A no-no here and a yes-yes there

August 26, 2009 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

Little ones seem to be more effective than big ones. Though I get impatient and want all the changes to happen over night, it takes time. I’ve tried the lectures and arguments with my daughter, but they are rather ineffective. Not that I expected them to work, but I was not quite sure what I was doing.

Mistakes and less than optimal behavior patterns take a while to establish themselves, so it will take a while to change them. On the basic level, I told my daughter that if she wants to be treated as a young adult, she has to act like one. When she doesn’t, she can’t expect otherwise. Little by little, I’m gaining credibility. I repeat that statement fairly frequently, especially when she asks a favor, and then say no.

Nor am I any longer taking promises for future behavior. If she doesn’t have time to hang up the laundry, then I don’t have time to drive her to her friend’s — even if that means changing trains and waiting half an hour. It’s not my problem.

So it’s just little things, but I am convinced that they will add up. She may not even notice the difference, but she doesn’t need to. As long as things change, I’m satisfied.

Today was a good example. She had to clean her room and take the old bed apart, because her father was coming today to bring the new bed they bought last week. It’s a loft bed, so she has more floor space. It took a while for her to wake up, and she suggested that I get started. When she was younger, I made the mistake of doing things myself because I could do it faster, more efficiently, and often didn’t have the time or patience to wait. Today I can wait. I calmly reminded her that it is her room, and if she doesn’t get it cleaned up, we’ll just stick the bed in another room and leave it there until she’s ready. That got her moving.

Unfortunately she also picked up the habit of yelling at me when I “annoy” her, as a way to shut me up. That she observed in her father. It was his way of keeping me in my place — just get loud. It is also unfortunate that I grew up with the idea that one should not make waves. But what would the ocean be without waves? So I calmly tell her that I don’t like it when she yells at me, or I suggest we continue the discussion when she has calmed down. If it’s about something she wants, she does manage to go down a few decibels.

It is a challenge, but we will get there. The ups and downs are part of the process. She is a good teacher. I am very good-natured and tend to trust that other people mean well. Now I recognize the need to take better care of myself. In the process, I trust that my daughter — and others — will benefit as well.

Does anybody out there have experience with this? Particularly with teenagers. I’d appreciate input!

Entry filed under: children, mothers and daughters. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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