Create closeness and trust instead of distance and hostility by making sure the message of love gets through.
“ I love you and the answer is, no”
“You are more important to me than your grades. What do your grades mean to you?”
“I love you and have faith that we can find a respectful solution.”
This has been a very difficult concept for me recently. Ever since my son became a teenager we have lost a lot of our connection. It's kind of a "Catch 22" because I realize he acts out because he doesn't feel a connection, but then creating a connection is difficult because he is so annoying.
I do think that using different language could be helpful. Even though I am annoyed, I could say something like "Gibson...I love you, and right now I need you to let me help Emma with her school project without interruptions." Or "Gibson...I love you, and I need you to please stop talking to me in that sarcastic tone."
This may require that I develop the patience of Ghandi, but I am willing to give it a try.
How'd you do with this card last week? What are you working on this week?
I did terrible with this tool card. My son has firmly positioned himself in the opposite corner of the ring and is committed to confronting me and contradicting me at every turn. If I was going to analyze the situation, I would say he is in a revenge cycle and just wants to get back at me. Do you remember the hamper in the bathroom which seemed like a simple way to solve the problem of clothes all over the bathroom floor? Well this weekend I noticed 3 days worth of clothes on the floor and asked him why he isn't putting his clothes in the hamper. His reply was "I do when the pile on the floor gets too big." But he only said that because he hates to admit that he could be passively aggressively trying to get back at me, because the fact is he NEVER uses the hamper in his bathroom. This weekend we got together with friends to carve pumpkins and he was trying to confront me and contradict my every move. We ended up having a heated discussion on the way home (Mostly because I was so heated) and I told him that next time I would just leave him at home.
So that is a long-winded way of saying that I failed miserably!
I feel for you about the hamper. Does anyone else use that bathroom or is it just his? I have a similar situation with my daughter but it's her whole room! I decided to disengage from the power struggle (or the fact that having a tidy room just isn't important to her) but with the conditions that there can't be wet towels on the carpeted floor or dishes (to which she agreed). I try to concentrate more on how our room looks because that's something I can control (or should be able to!).Hers is mostly a mess consistently, but the other day she tidied it without me asking.
The thing I like about this card though is that it focuses on the relationship as well as the behaviour.
Don't be so hard on yourself, Brad. I think being argumentative is part of the age and the whole individuation process.
They say adolescence is hard on kids; it's almost harder on parents. I remember it well, and still have little flashes of it, especially with my 22-year-old daughter. I used to have a note on my fridge, and maybe you could use one, too. It said, "It's not about you."
And it's not (except when you know in your heart that it is). Try not to do anything when your lid is flipped (good modeling for Gibson). And letting him have the last word doesn't mean he won; it means you've chosen not to fight any more. You can do it! (P.S. I'm a CPDT, if that matters.)
What's the next card?
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