Monday, December 15, 2014

When Everything Went Wrong

Oh, welcome brave new world! Where women think for themselves and children no longer are seen and not heard!

Baby boomers (along with previous generations) longingly reminisce the good old days where their "lessers" sat in mute silence and did what they were told without question. Those days are done. Gone. Dead! To wish otherwise is a death sentence to the uprising generation.

It was yesterday afternoon my family happily visited my in-laws. Don't touch! Don't fight. Talk in a low voice. Don't be obnoxious. Chase, chase, chase. Well, while visiting the grandparents is a nice once-in-a-while event for us, it can be stressful. Especially when you have kids like mine.

I am raising my kids to be thinkers. To fight for their beliefs. To be unafraid to speak their minds. To love and obey their Heavenly Father. To know and love delayed gratification. To succeed in life. To act honorably and honestly. Every one of them has a headstrong leader within wanting to shine! And this creates many a conflict in the Mueller household. While this happens, I teach them the importance of teamwork and charity.

So, back to the death sentence of the uprising generation. There's no doubt. Look around you. Things are fast paced. In every way. Sex. Communication. Drugs. Jobs. Home life. Everything. If we raised our kids to run and hide when company arrives, what kind of adults will they become?

Our nice evening led to an explosive argument between the generations at the grandparents. You see, we have a soon-to-be 2 year old active little boy, and I stress ACTIVE. Grandparents had a beautiful china Nativity Scene on a table in the middle of their living room. I had politely asked if we could please remove this set so that Babykins would not hurt it. Grandma hesitated. She consented. I felt her hesitance. Boy, did I. So, I hired myself some teenagers to help me take it to another room. Grandpa saw us and said in so many words, "What are you doing? No. You put it back and just teach your little boy to not touch."

Taken aback, I said to my kids as I grabbed up my portion for its return, "Okay, kids, you heard him, let's put it back because we're going to do our super best to keep Babykins to keep from touching it."

Grandma heard that. And that's when it all exploded. Grandpa says that in his days, children did NOT touch. They obeyed. He pointed fault in the way we're raising our children. Doesn't he know the pressures they're facing? I am not going to go down quietly into the night and let my kids flail and fail and sink and fall. They will know who they are. They will NOT sit to be looked at, to be shut away, to bow their heads and say meekly, "yes, sir" because those days of quiet subservience is over.

I remember as a child, being afraid of adults. It wasn't until high school that I realized that teachers were human. Silly as that sounds, it was true. My dad taught me through example to be scared of adults. To shut up when he entered. To hide when he was angry.

I've had to reinvent my parenting skills because the example I have is not a happy or good one. While I had a broken childhood, I do not raise my children lightly. I think about their emotional well-being, their happiness and comfort. Their self-confidence, their desires, their needs. Everything comes with a price and that is the honor system. To honor is to live wisely.They are the world to me. I love them and want to stay a part of their lives as they search out for their own for when the time comes. What parent wants their children to never come back? What parent wants to badger their children with tradition that hurt them as children themselves to begin with?

I call this the the Generational Miscommunication Gap Crisis.

There is a fine line to raising children and I can say with a clear conscious that I am not raising hoodlums.

Thoughts?

23 comments:

  1. Anyone who puts temptation within reach of a two-year-old is asking for it. That's what kids do.
    I think respect can be taught without outright fear.

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    1. I agree with you. Grandma's place is not a place my kids feel at home because everything is a hands off policy and our visits usually last more than 2 hours because of the distance it takes for us to get there. We need to figure something out that works well.

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  2. We have a policy, dont put anything in reach of little children that is to previous to run the risk of breakage when the grandkids come. I have a life-sized porcelain baby Jesus that I keep in the center of the table and I have moved it when the kids come however I can see that it is a good idea to try to teach the kids not to touch things we have a ceramic house Christmas village that we keep under the Christmas tree and we have a little train that goes around it we let the kids play with the train but they have all learned not to touch the village even when they were rambunctious 2 year olds it can be done.I have even let the little children two year olds included with my help hold the baby Jesus and it become something very special to them and they know that they need to be very careful with it so far no one's broken it yet if it happens there's always glue

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    1. I like the compromise you have going there!

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  3. I am sorry that your visit went so badly. I was the generation raised kinda that way and haven't done too badly.

    May we all reach a happy medium.

    Merry Christmas.

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  4. No one person knows how to raise all children, because each family is different. It's the parents who know the children best, and should be allowed space to raise and instruct them as they see fit. It's not for relatives to butt in with the insistence that "the way were raised" be followed by others. It's utterly disrespectful.

    And yes, the days of children sitting meekly in the corner, "seen and not heard" are over. Teaching children to be better than the world they're coming into is a difficult task, one that means old methods must be challenged.

    Speaking as someone who faced difficult issues with a particular relative this year, I sympathise.

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    1. Ooh, I love your words. Well said, Paul! Thank you.

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  5. Elizabeth, it sounds like you are doing it exactly right to me. I know the generation older than us thinks they did it right, but people who blindly follow rules can be led astray (think Nazis). People who think for themselves with a true compassionate view of right and wrong will do what is right even when the lemmings are leaping.

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    1. So sad, really. It's only my desire to raise well-adjusted adults so when they bring their kids over to my house, things don't explode!

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  6. I'm sorry Elizabeth. Children need to be told no and to respect property. The whole world is not a playground and you will do your children a service to teach them that word even if it's difficult for you. If grandma and grandpa say no, than that rules applies to everyone in their house, including your children.
    I am also a grandparent with items that I would prefer not get broken. I do know that when my grand kids were young how hard it is for them to not touch pretty things so I try to put them up. But I can't think of everything. And what happens at a dept store? Do you just let your kids play with everything they see?
    Kids are capable of learning the word "no" and it will strengthen their character to hear it. Its not old fashioned, it's a valuable teaching and every generation, not just ours, needs to learn that word.

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    1. You are right. I do believe that children need to learn that entitlement is not something wise, as in, they are entitled to turning every place into a jungle gym. :) While we are at a department store, we walk carefully between the aisles. My kids know not to touch or horseplay--heavens, yes! We hold our two year old's hand, too (or on our hip)!

      I did tell my in laws that the last time we were there, I spent my ENTIRE time chasing my little one around, keeping him from getting into things. It was unpleasant for me. Everyone else had a good old time and I was frazzled. We have to travel a distance to get there and our visit does *not* last less than 2 hours at a time. It's usually 3 or 4--sometimes longer. They have no running space, no real toys suitable for his age there.

      Something needs to be done and I am exhausted at compromising 99% of the time. I believe if they truly want to keep their museum appearance, we need to keep our visit time down to one hour tops because that's all my 2 year old can really handle. <3

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    2. I certainly understand the discomfort of going that great a distance and then dealing with little ones and valuables. Riding in the car alone is hard on kids and all that energy gets bottled up. I think a good dialogue at a less stressful time, perhaps on the phone or letter, might clear things up for your next visit. It sounds like Grandma understood, but guys as a rule have their ways and it can be frustrating, but it is their house. Maybe Grandma can foresee a disturbance next time so there isn't a confrontation.

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    3. Also, do you bring toys for them? I used to get a little something special for the kids that they weren't familiar with so that they would be interested and have something to do when we were visiting. Perhaps get some toys for grandma's house that they can only play with at grandma's.

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    4. This may start a battle, but so be it. Yes, children can (and should) be taught not to touch, that the whole world is not a jungle gym. However, if you place a two year old in front of a cake, strap them down and say "Don't touch," then walk away, how long do you think that cake will last? If Grandma wants her nice things to be left alone, she needs to participate in the teaching. If Grandpa is going to make a fuss over a child's natural inclination to explore by touching, he needs to participate in the teaching. Oh, but he comes from a generation where Dad's didn't teach, right? Where Dads were the breadwinner and children were expected to obey or else.

      Part of the problem is new environments. The child has been to a department store before, probably on a regular basis. There's been time and opportunity to teach. It sounds like G & G's house is a rare occurrence, and without that regular opportunity to teach the rules don't sink in. This situation is not a matter of "I can't think of everything," but of grandparents who can't be bothered to remember what their own children were like at that age. The situation was pointed out to them (cancelling "I can't think of everything" quite nicely) and their response was that children should not be allowed to act like children. Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but these are not Grandparents. These are nice-things-caretakers who happen to have grandchildren.

      Maybe what you could do is get something that looks like the more fragile items (from a thrift store, perhaps) and teach him at home that they're not to be touched. It's a compromise, yes, but it might help the next time.

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    5. Dianne, I appreciate you dropping by and discussing with me your thoughts! We've been there a few times and she was such a sweetheart. She had proofed her house as best as she could and even bought a cute toy for Babykins. Because it was Christmas Eve and because of the plans she had for us, our visit lasted a good handful of hours!

      The kids behaved amazingly well, including the littlest one. I do bring a little backpack filled with toys, but Babykins is NOT Interested in toys very much. I think I just need to find the right kinds, but that is a brilliant idea. :)

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    6. Lauren, you're right on all counts. Really. We do try to make it down there, but it isn't too often, either. Babykins was dazzled with our Christmas tree, but after teaching him to leave it alone (haha, talk about battles but he never threw a tantrum over it), he eventually got bored and left it alone.

      We should get some nice things from a thrift store and teach him the "Off touchies" policy with those, but I'd need to teach all the kids to be his keeper, too, so that it doesn't completely fall upon me!

      Thank you! :)

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  7. If you'd like to teach a child not to touch things, you might not want to start with something that the child can destroy. No one learns anything perfectly on the first try.

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    1. I love this sentiment, thank you! I'll look for something here that isn't fragile and get my kids to teach Babykins, too! :)

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  8. My only thought that raising children is difficult. Well, that and breaching the gap between generations. All you can do is your best.

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  9. Family conflict can be some of the worst kind. I know how that can go. My kids are all adults now and for the most part have turned out okay. Parenting is always an experiment and we can only hope for the best results.

    Hope your holidays went well and you are looking toward a successful year to come.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Thank you, Lee! Parenting is very much like being a doctor in the medical field: it's all a practice! Every person is different and we need to be resilient to varying needs and emotions and *everything* on *every* level imaginable!

      I hope your holidays have gone well, too! It's always nice to have the kids away from school, nicely tucked under one roof!

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