187 days of not yelling, 178 days of loving more to go!
While I love you, and oh do I love you, the truth is you often hide something really deep that I need to look at. My post the other night about how to get my kids to listen to me was a perfect example. In the middle of writing that sarcastic rant about the challenges of getting my kids to listen to me (read here), I had a deep thought, a few questions really. And these questions kept pestering me to think about them these last few days so tonight, I had to give it a go. I had to go deep and not hide under you. See you soon though I am sure…
The Orange Rhino
In all my questioning of how to get my boys to listen to me better, in all my reading of how to get my boys listening to me better, never once did I read, or stop and think…
Do I ask my boys to listen too much? Or in other words,
Do I ask my boys to do too much?
Do I ask so much that they are tired of having to listen to me request them to do things?
Do I ask so much of my boys that when I speak all they hear is “blah blah blah, blah blah?”
Because I have to admit. I ask my boys to do a lot. Not just expectations, but actions, behaviors. In fact, I don’t think I stop asking them to do things all day. Don’t play guns. Don’t say mean words. Don’t hit. Don’t push. Don’t spit. Stop when someone says stop. Clear you plate at meal time. Stay at the table at meal time. Try to make your bed. Try to clean your room. Please put your shoes away. Please don’t leave toys on the stairs. Please don’t slam doors. Please use your inside voice. Please come here for a second. Please put your toys down it’s time to leave. Can you help me with this? Can you help me with that?
Oh. My. God.
I am tired just writing out all the things I ask them to do. I get tired just thinking of all the times I ask them to stop what they are doing in order to listen to me so that they can do what I WANT. WHEN I WANT IT. HOW I WANT IT.
Shoot, I would get tired of having to listen to me talk all day. Wait, I DO get tired of listening to myself talk. I DO get tired of giving “directions” all day long. I know my job as a parent is to teach my sons, to guide them how to become good sons, good brothers, good friends, good neighbors, good people all around and with that does unfortunately come a lot of requests on my part and a lot of listening on their part.
And I know that many of the things I ask do need to be heard, do need to be listened to, do need to get done.
Maybe, just maybe, my sons have a hard time “listening” because I truly ask too much, because I bombard them all day long with requests, instructions and expectations about how to act? Maybe my sons have a hard time “listening” because they are simply OVERLOADED with information from me and opt to tune me out because they both need and want a break?
I mean gosh, there is a list of 10 actions, JUST 10, that I could do (supposedly) in order to have children that listen better (read here). Just 10 things and I feel too bothered to be bothered to do all 10, to remember all 10. And I am an adult!
For my boys, the list of things I ask them to do is a heck of a lot more than 10. It’s more like a 50. And I bet if I actually tracked it, it would be more like 100.
I know how 10 items makes me feel.
I can only imagine how 100+ items makes my kids feel. And they are kids. KIDS!
So truly, I have to stop and think, am I ASKING MY KIDS TO DO TOO MUCH? Too much so that when I do speak, they tune me out because they are tired of listening and having to respond…again for the umpteenth time that day?
As I think about it I think the answer is NO. Wait, YES.
NO a lot of what I ask is necessary and part of becoming a responsible, nice, respectful, loving, good person, being asked to do things, lots of things, it’s part of the territory of being a kid. But at the same time….
YES they are just kids and listening is hard work for them…um, it’s hard work for me as a quasi-adult! I could afford to not get so miffed when they don’t listen. I could afford to take it less personally, to be more empathetic and to remember how much I ask of them AND how much they already do! I could afford to lighten up a bit, to stay focused on the big items I want them to listen to and respond to but perhaps stop nagging about the small items.
I could afford to, no I WILL, try to stop and ask myself more often, is my request necessary? Can I chill out? Can I let my kids be kids? And maybe, just maybe, if I chill out and ask less of my kids, they will listen better when I do ask. It’s a fine line, asking too much of my kids and asking too little, but it’s a line I need to explore because I have a hunch that I am too much on the too much side.