OK, it’s time to cut to the chase about why I’m writing a blog journaling my children’s fifth grade school year and my attempts to be a happy, healthy, effective parent along the way. The ugly truth: Last year did not go well.
A lot of the unpleasantness centered around homework. My son hates homework. Both kids hate having their work checked or — God forbid! — corrected. Weekday evenings were frequently rife with sullenness, frustration, broken pencils and tantrums. I started to dread coming home from work in the evening, wondering if it would be a “good homework night” or a “bad homework night”. But that’s not all. The kids were often rude and disrespectful to me, complained about doing chores or picking up their own toys and belongings, and fell apart when they did not get their way. To top it off, they were constantly competing and fighting with each other. I was left feeling like a terrible, ineffective parent, wracking my brain for strategies to make things better.
When did all this begin? Was it when I was overwhelmed by my infant twins as a new parent and spent the first several years of their lives in triage mode? Or was it when the school years began and the challenges and expectations for my children became more demanding? Does the root of their behavior lie in their temperaments? Or have we, their parents, created these behaviors through our responses and parenting techniques? Does my own anxiety and dread of ensuing unpleasantness become a self-fulfilling prophecy and/ or a reinforcer of the negative behavior? Are they especially competitive because they are twins? The answer to all of these questions is probably “YES”. But, where does that get me? Time to move on!
So, why a blog? Why would airing my parenting troubles for the world possibly be a good thing? There are a few reasons why this idea appealed to me. First, I like to process. For me, “external processing” — of challenges, problems, unpleasant events, things I’m worried about — is almost always a good thing, resulting in new perspectives and ideas and a more relaxed, positive attitude. While it is not as fun and heart-warming as taking a walk and talking with a good friend, a blog is another avenue for processing. Second is the concept of maintaining perspective, some degree of objectivity and, hopefully, at least a modicum of humor as I document and reflect on my parenting journey. I mean, if I can blog about it, how bad can it be?! Finally, I like to write, and the blog is a useful exercise in writing for an audience — at least a theoretical one!
If any of this sounds like you, and you are not currently writing a blog, you might want to try it. If you are already writing a blog, what purposes does it serve for you?
Finally, to end on an up note, I will report that two weeks into the new school year, things are going well. There has been a little grumbling about homework (even though there hasn’t actually been very much yet) and one over-reaction to my attempt to “help”, but I also see subtle signs of a more mature, less volatile attitude from the kids.
More about how I’m working to adjust my own attitude in upcoming posts!
Before homework… Who knew???