Sunday, August 05, 2012

There should be a chip for that...

Alcoholics get a sobriety chip periodically to celebrate their sobriety.  I think I need some sort of chip to celebrate my successes over my personal demons as well...

Let's play a little game of 2 truths and a lie.

1. I have never considered myself a yeller or angry person...until I had more than one child.

2. When I had Walter, it was like some sick switch was yanked even though he was a good baby. The transition to 2 was soooo hard, and Dean, not quite 2 years old, had just as hard of a time as I had with the change. It was just so hard not being able to give each child my full attention when they needed it. I got flustered easily and I started getting angry a lot.

3. I have never spanked my children.

This week has been one of my best as a mother of multiple children, and I'll tell you why.

It has been a real struggle for me the last 3 years to keep my annoyances to a minimum, to keep from yelling when reason doesn't work, and to refrain from spanking. Before I had children I swore I would never spank. I read so many things in child development classes that talked about how destructive spanking was. And yet, I got to a point where I felt like I'd tried everything. Rewards. Talking to them. Reasoning. And then when I felt like I was painted into a corner and had tried every other reasonable measure, I ended up spanking and/or yelling. I definitely didn't spank on a weekly basis, but I don't think I've been "yell free" since just before I had Walter 3 years ago. I'm not constantly yelling, and there are lots and lots of hugs and kisses and praise, but it has been a real source of grief and guilt and I couldn't figure out how to change. Lasting change.

Anyway, when I was at our reunion I was talking to my sister and sister-in-law about the role that parenting books played in their mothering. I told them that I used to read them and ended up just feeling worse about myself and my parenting. When I tried implementing their parenting strategies, what was so great in theory just didn't seem to pan out in reality. I honestly haven't read a parenting book in over 2 years. While talking to my sisters, I felt like, yeah, I needed to start reading again. But this time I wanted to do things differently. With the quote from Boyd K Packer in mind, " True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the Gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.", I decided to try to learn to be more Christlike in my parenting rather than try and learn new strategies for dealing with spirited children or whatnot. I bought 5 books on Amazon about Christlike parenting or incorporating Christian principles into parenting, and let me tell you, the first book alone has helped me change my life. It's called Christlike Parenting by Dr. Glenn Lathem.  He's LDS, but he writes to a general Christian audience only using biblical references.

I'm not even half way through the book and I have already gone a full week without yelling in anger once. I am convinced that President Packer's statement is true. I have always read it and thought I needed to teach my children doctrine to help them shape up their behavior since I KNOW the doctrine. While I haven't learned anything earth shattering or that I didn't already know,  it did really help me shift my perspective and has allowed me to really believe and embrace the reality that Christ's atonement could help me become a better person and mother and help in overcoming my personal demons.  I just had to be willing to give it up. It seems strange that I might not want to give up something so horrible, but I think subconsciously I wanted to keep yelling as an option because sometimes nothing else seemed to work. Horrible, I know.

Anyway, it's been liberating, and for the first time in a long time I truly believe Christ can heal and change and help ME. It's not just a theory. It's not just a generalization. Christ can heal me. "let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." Hebrews 12:1-2


Stephanie said...

Thank you for this post. I'll have to check out that book. Last month I decided to work on some parenting goals, the main one being, "teach, don't yell." It is a real struggle for me, and I've also been reading some books about habits and how to change your behavior, but I know you're right. The best way to change is through the doctrine of Christ. Congrats on your success, and thanks for your inspiring example!

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Steph, he's actually a behavioral therapist, so there is a lot in the book about changing your behavior. BUT I think the most helpful stuff is linking the doctrine to the behaviors.