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Can I stop myself turning into my abusive mother?

(14 Posts)
bigredtractor Sat 07-Nov-15 20:41:26

I'm at a bit of a low ebb tonight, worried that I'm turning into my shouting, angry, abusive mother and I'm desperate not to.

I have a 5yo DS and a baby DD - it feels like I'm on his back (DS) a lot and I don't know how to change. Its the same triggers - bad manners at the table, interrupting or not listening (or doing as he's been asked). I just feel the anger / frustration rise in me and end up shouting or threatening him to get him to comply. I wish I knew a better way.

My DM passed away 7 years ago, the year before DS was born and deep down I think I'm missing her terribly and that's part of the problem. She wasn't a monster but shouted, threatened and sometimes hit us (I've NEVER gone that far). She regularly gave us the silent treatment too, when we were older. But I feel enormous sympathy for her because I know she suffered PND -completely ignored in the 80s - and that her mum (my grandma) was just as bad to her - worse in fact since she used to hit her regularly.

Shouty parenting is all I knew - and I'm desperate to break the cycle. My DS needs to learn how to sit at a table, develop good manners, not interrupt and respond to a question / instruction without me needing to repeat it 27 times then lose me rag (e.g. going to brush his teeth, or being asked to put something away). I hate the thought that I'm crushing his little spirit by being on at him so much and don't want him to feel the anxiety I felt around my DM, not knowing whether she was going to explode or not. But I still need to be an effective parent and don't want a house where I'm ignored when he's 8 or 9 and its much harder to change.

Thanks so much if you've got to the end of this!

Asteria36 Sat 07-Nov-15 20:49:15

The fact that you have an awareness means half the battle is already won. If you can, try and get some sort of dialectic therapy so that you can work on triggers and your responses to them. Meditation can be really helpful when managing outbursts.
Be kind to yourself though, beating yourself up over every incident when you have raised your voice will not help. Try and take yourself away if you feel the urge to shout, decompress for a few moments (count to 10, sing to yourself, whatever works!) and then return to talk the situation through with your DS. As you probably already know, shouting eventually just becomes the norm to children and it no longer works as an effective way of disciplining. The occasional raised voice is far more effective than constant raised voices. With smaller children engaging eye contact and discussing problems at their level can be far more effective.
Good luck - parenting is tough and none of us are perfect at it!

BertieBotts Sat 07-Nov-15 20:56:09

Don't worry smile You're definitely not alone and LOTS of parents feel like this! Children push buttons in us that we just didn't know that we even had - I remember thinking I was a really patient person until I had DS confused

One question - do you think your natural tendencies tend towards authoritative/strict, or permissive? Is it that you're trying to establish order but don't have many tools in your box other than shouting and threatening, or is it that you're trying really hard to be "nice" and trying everything but nothing is working and eventually you end up shouting and threatening because you feel out of control?

If you're not sure I'd say the first is likely if you often feel as though shouting is becoming more of a first resort than you mean it to and that you're being negative all the time, and the second is likely if you find that you swing wildly in a cycle of nice, nice, lovely, nice, kind, EXPLODE.

I ask because the way to stop/improve is different. I kept following all the advice for the first when I was the second, and it didn't work. And likewise if you're the first but follow advice for the second, it also won't work.

The first means you might want to look up some resources on gentle parenting or non-coercive parenting, to build a whole new set of tools which perhaps your mum might have found useful, as well. (We can only do the best with the information we have at the time.) There is a great book often recommended on MN called How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, which is definitely good, and also a website called Aha Parenting.

The second problem tends to occur when you have issues with boundaries, setting and upholding. This can happen as a backlash from a childhood which was too strict, but it can also just be a personality thing. So the way that you deal with that is to stop reading all of the gentle parenting websites, because those are advice for people who already know how to set boundaries, and instead learn about boundary setting, and in particular where to set a limit so that you're still totally in control when they cross it, and you don't feel panicky, rather than setting it right at the limit of what is acceptable so that as soon as they cross it there's already a problem. Something like 1, 2, 3, Magic is more useful here, though I'm not a huge fan of the book, it's good at teaching how to set boundaries.

For both issues I also really like a book called When Your Kids Push Your Buttons. smile

Lightbulbon Sat 07-Nov-15 21:05:00

I think you need to lower your expectations of it 5yo.

He will be going through a big upheaval having been an only for so long then getting ursurped. Give the wee guy a break!

It's not the end of the world if he doesn't have perfect table manners etc.

What you will both remember in 30 years is the quality of your relationship not whether he was following all the rules at the table every day.

bigredtractor Sat 07-Nov-15 21:05:30

Thank you both for some useful ideas. I actually bought the 'How to talk...' book and it really resonated with me - except that I felt most of the techniques were for older children.

Bertie I'd definitely say I'm strict / authoritarian by nature. I'm fairly risk averse (now -I never used to be) and really don't want the DC to grow up anxious.

Tomorrow is another day to try and be better - I just went and gave him a little kiss (he's fast asleep! ) and told him I'm sorry blush

BrightonMum36 Sat 07-Nov-15 21:13:44

I completely understand and feel the same way as my mum was the same and I'm determined to be different from her!
I used to be quite shouty with my daughter and tell her to do things. Then I completely changed tac and now do this. This is going to sound a bit weird but stay with me:
I rarely tell her to do anything.
Instead, I always give her two choices, and explain the consequences of both, and let her choose what she wants to happen. One choice is a boring or unappealing consequence, and one is a fun or a reasonable consequence depending on the circumstance.
Example: "Emma if you decide to get down from the table now you will have no ice cream for desert, and you will have no stories later. (or tv or games or whatever you think they will really miss) Or if you stay sitting at the table you will get icecream for desert and an extra story later! What do you want to happen? You choose!
Say all of this quickly and authoritatively, and then for gods sake, follow through on your consequence if he chooses the boring option. (The first few times he will) When it comes to the negative consequence and he's complaining about no stories or tv or whatever, say "I know I'm sad too but it was your choice! Next time you can choose the icecream option!"
It takes a while, but stay strong and be consistent. When he does choose the second choice eventually, use LOADS AND LOADS of praise. "Wow great choice! Now we can have icecream and stories! Wow what a clever boy for choosing that!! Well done!" Go nuts, they love it and feel responsible and proud.
Eventually they make the second choice option every time as they KNOW the first option will always end up in a crap consequence.
Trust me, it works. And you don't ever have to shout again..

BrightonMum36 Sat 07-Nov-15 21:21:34

Ps forgot to say apparently a reason it works is that you're giving them boundaries (which they like) and you're making them feel like they are in control and they know what's going to happen.
Shouting at them makes them feel like no one is in control, scares and confuses them so they continue to act up to try and gain control again. Makes sense to me..

meiisme Sat 07-Nov-15 21:25:05

Brightonmum, thanks for that great idea; it sounds like it would fit my wanting-to-be-in-charge-all-the-time 5yo perfectly. Did you come up with it yourself or is it from some parenting book? I could do with more techniques like that.

bigredtractor Sat 07-Nov-15 21:36:55

Thank you BrightonMum that's a good suggestion to try... I can see that working cause he LOVES some after dinner TV!

To be fair, he does already have boundaries and consequences - I just don't like the screeching fishwife I become implementing them!

MrsMolesworth Sat 07-Nov-15 21:45:07

You will break the cycle because you're aware of it and want to change.

If you like the How To Talk book but think it's for older children, get Positive Discipline the pre-school years (it's American so goes up to age 5.)I got it when DTs were five and even though it was only valid for that year I used it so much it fell apart and to this day I use the techniques in it. It turned me into a much nicer, happier and much more successful parent overnight. It's similar to How To Talk but more thorough while being very easy to follow. I think it's genius. It saved our family from endless battles. And it works for everyone - you feel in control and your child feels safe, happy and listened to.

link{\here's a link}

MrsMolesworth Sat 07-Nov-15 21:47:09

Basically - it teaches what Brightonmum is describing - that's exactly how I talked to my DC after reading it and it works like magic. It transformed us overnight.

BrightonMum36 Sat 07-Nov-15 21:59:38

I didn't read it in a book no it was a combination of things I've picked up along the way. Someone told me kids love choices, consequences and boundaries so I put it all together and came up with that.
Also, don't forget you're wiring their brains for how the world works and will treat them for the rest of their life. Every human being has two choices in every situation, choose to do something positive and you will get a good outcome, choose to do something negative and you will get a crap outcome. (If you choose not to get out of bed and not go to work, you'll soon be fired, if you choose to get out of bed and go to work you will get money to do fun things - etc etc)
That's how it will always be so get em started now so they will be secure, confident and happy adults.
I reckon anyway!!

BertieBotts Sat 07-Nov-15 22:21:12

I definitely found that HTT started becoming properly useful at 5/6 years so maybe it's a good time to re-read smile

Here are some more specific links as you've said you're more interested in expanding tools rather than boundary setting:

10 alternatives to consequences (In this case it's about how not to use them at all but they all also work as things to try before you get to them as a last resort). Some are teeth itchingly cheesy but most are useful.

Positive parenting game plan for 5-9 years (I don't agree with everything but some nice things to pick and choose)

Advice on the "Fournado" - ours certainly lasted through five as well.

Orange Rhino - a website started by a mum who wanted to shout less and runs a "challenge" and loads of tips on avoiding shouting.

bigredtractor Sat 07-Nov-15 22:27:41

Thank you flowers

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