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the real me: a bit too real

July 9, 2010

One of my girlfriends says “. . .just being real” when she shares something frustrating or difficult.  When I hear it I often think, “oh honey. you don’t want me to be ‘real‘.”  My ‘real’ is a tad too honest.  It’s harsh.  Loud.  And frankly, there are few people (i can think of only 2) who understand the ‘real’ me and still love me anyway.  Sad?  Maybe.  True? Yep.   There are possibly more that could love the ‘real’ me.  But it is doubtful I would give them a chance.  Know why? ? ?

Here ya go:

Yesterday I was buying some snacks at a local ‘second-hand’ grocery store (the kind with the bright red price-tags, outdated foods, and smashed boxes) when I saw a woman walk in.   She had four children with her (guessing 9, 6, 4, and baby).  She looked high.  The two oldest said, “we’re going to the bathroom!”  She didn’t respond.  She just kept staring at the shelves of junk food.  The younger child said, “I need to go to the bathroom too.”  She told him to “Shut up!”  He started whining a little and said, “I need to go Mama.”  And her response was “If you don’t shut the hell up I’m going to beat your ass!”  He dropped his head and walked along beside her – holding onto the cart.  He was a good baby.  He was not complaining or begging or any of the behaviors that typically cause parents to go over the edge.  Inside I was secretly hoping he would pee on his mom’s foot.  I was just staring.  She was oblivious to me and the fact that her other children were still in the bathroom being goofy and noisy.   I realize that I don’t know the background story.  Maybe this was the 4th stop of the day and the little guy had to use the bathroom in the other 3 locations.  Maybe the last time they were in a public bathroom he peed all over the walls.  Or maybe she is scared for his safety.  I don’t know.  What I do know is, her parenting SUCKS!   I recognize sucky parenting a mile away.  I smell it coming.  I get paid to recognize it and it’s hard to turn it off.   Just because I’m at the grocery store or at a church get-together doesn’t mean I’m not doing everything I can to hold in my comments.  Sure, we all have thoughts that are more harmful than helpful.  But those thoughts pretty much decide my life and how I’m willing to spend my free time. 

Another example was this week during a parenting class that I’m teaching.  Two of the families in attendance were there because their children had been taken and placed in foster care.  As we talked about the styles of discipline our parents used with us, one dad shared that his mom would put him in his room when he misbehaved.  When I asked if that worked for her and for him, he said, “It’s okay with me.  I turned out alright.”  Later the same couple shared with me that their 3-year-old was removed from the home because they had been locking him in his room as a discipline strategy.  Know what!?!?  IT’S NOT WORKING FOR YOU AND YOU DIDN’T TURN OUT ALRIGHT!!!  

One of the biggest problems with parents who are struggling to discipline is only being able to see how they feel about the situation instead of how their child might be feeling.  I believe, from my experience, this comes from a series of wounds in the parent’s life.   For example: if your parents did not support you or the activities you chose then you are unlikely to support your own children.  Not because you’re not interested, but because you didn’t feel value and now you are trying to find value in staying at home (read: I have too much to do).  I’m speaking from personal & professional experience in that example.   Or, if your parents had no clue – you are more likely to have no clue.  None of this means you give up.  It means you heal yourself & then you work on your children.   Sometimes these can be done simultaneously.   It makes a difference. 

Common responses I hear (and my thoughts about them):

  • He’ll be fine.  I was spanked and I turned out okay. = This parent wants me to fix the kid – not the parenting.
  • I’m done.  I can’t do anything else.  = This parent is exhausted – rarely will progress be made.
  • She’s such a ____________. =  Once a parent has given a child a label, it is highly likely that child will be just what the parent expects.
  • Can you just tell me what to say to him?  =  It’s easier if I give parents the answers.  Also, unlikely they will follow through because it’s new, different, and feels weird.
  • How do I make him _______? = my answer is always “duct tape & rope”.  It’s silly to believe you could ever ‘make’ your child do anything.  You can teach them anything and have faith they will follow (highly likely if you are modeling it too) however little progress is made if you force. 
  • I need more ‘me’ time and she just drags me down.  = If you are taking care of yourself at the expense of you child, there will be bigger consequences than you can imagine.  I could go on and on here.  This is where drugs, medications, affairs, and hobbies begin pulling you away from what is real and true in your life.   Big damage likely.

Are many of these opinions?  Yes.  Have these opinions been formed after years of working with family after family and watching the effects of different types of parenting? YES!  

I’m not judging anyone.  There are studies and books that will prove what I have witnessed over and over.  I only took the time to put it into a brief format.   Maybe the mom at the grocery will read this.  Maybe today you are the mom at the grocery.  You know what the best news is?  You can change it! 

My favorite parenting belief:  I can only change one person, myself – how I react, what I focus on and what I model.  I can teach the behavior I expect to see, set limits in a loving, firm way, and model self-control. My children are watching me to see how to live a healthy adult life.  My interactions with them provide my children with the safety and connection they need to become a responsible human being. 

What does all this have to do with running?  It’s WHY I run!  It’s how I release what I see, hear and work with on a daily basis.  It is my medication & my therapy.  It is me.  And it is REAL.

Run on Friends!

PS – YIKES!

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2010 11:08 am

    Very insightful post. I hear so many of the same things. When I ask parents about how they were disciplined and what their current philosophies are on discipline I always get the “well, I was spanked and turned out okay.” But don’t you want to do it better? I’m not a perfect parent by any stretch, but I am always learning and trying and wanting to do better. If a make a mistake in my parenting, which I do all the time I talk about it with my kids and apologize if need be. It is a work in progress.

  2. July 9, 2010 1:13 pm

    That’s really sad that a parent would EVER speak to a child that way. How is a child supposed to learn how they are supposed to treat others when they are being spoken to so badly. Like you said, there may be reasons. But there are no excuses.

  3. July 9, 2010 5:00 pm

    I love your parenting posts (maybe because I am being lazy and not running…too dang hot down here)! I am glad someone pays you for this stuff…you’re gooooooood!!
    Love ya!

  4. Deb B permalink
    July 10, 2010 10:14 am

    “I turned out” is irrelevant. Is it working now? (Besides giving you aerobic exercise?) What percentage do you get what you hoped for? How long does that desired state/action last? Maybe people vary in sensitivities to pain, in tolerance for thinking ahead, in distractibility; maybe you’d like to try something different? Who’s the grown-up?
    Have you read “Parenting from the inside out”? You will SO love “Mindsight” [also by Daniel Siegal, on whom Kat and I have massive “brain” crushes 😉 ] – we’re doing a book study.
    There’ll be more on that in InDevelopmentKs.com, which you might want check out – did an entry on you!

  5. July 10, 2010 10:42 am

    I never hear parents talk about spanking anymore; it seems to have become an “unspoken truth”.

    I think one of the biggest problems our generation faces is that we, in general, are self-centred: it’s all about me. We have children because we want them but, then, we don’t know what to do with them, don’t take the time to find out what to do with them, and simply don’t spend time with them. Think about the number of families who really depend on schools and daycares to raise their kids. Think about the number of teachers and daycares that have to also teach parenting skills.

    Great post.

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