Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Better Mom

Michael and I watched 'America's Super Nanny' the other night. The episode featured a family of six: preacher dad, stay at home mom, and four kids, one of which was a very strong willed child with Downs Syndrome. Mom was utterly exhausted from trying to manage these kids and the house pretty much alone as the father was gone all day at work then came home and shut himself in the bedroom for another chunk of the night-not paying one bit of attention to the kids or mom...but he did come out for dinner. Oh gee--so glad you could join us!!

My heart broke for this mom who was beyond defeated and just completely overwhelmed. The kids all felt ignored and neglected and Dad was absolutely oblivious to his own disconnectedness. Michael immediately picked up on the lack of discipline in the house and pointed out to me that no one was yelling at the kids. Um, yeah, they're not doing anything to guide these kids...But to him, not being yelled at meant this was a better mom! This exhausted, emotionally/psychologically checked out mom was a better mom than me...because she didn't yell. Kids could do whatever with no repercussions...

Okay, I don't like yelling at Michael. But he is SOOOOOO stubborn and never wrong and never to blame--I confess I can lose my patience and my mind and tend to yell a good bit more than is at all helpful or necessary. Bill is in the same boat, perhaps even quicker to lose his temper because he's not as immune to the daily banging your head on the wall trying to get this kid to cooperate...And Michael apparently perceives this yelling not as a way to try to get through to him, but more that we don't love him because we're not patient with him--what???? Not patient??!! After asking him five or six times to get dressed for school as he sits in his jammies on the couch watching Regular Show reruns and playing his PSP and he's not budged one inch....not patient???

The saddest part of the show came when Super Nanny pointed out to the parents that they had zero expectations for their son with Downs. They let him get away with bad behavior and not finishing his homework because they didn't expect anything better from him. Nanny got that turned around, gave Mom and Dad a new perspective and a helpful set of tools to work with their boy to encourage and guide him to do better. It was like a different family by the end of the show...

I know we do have high expectations of Michael. He's brilliantly smart and talented in so many ways. And, okay, yelling isn't the way to get anyone to do anything...We need to work on that. I do need to be a better mom--not an utterly defeated mom who lets him get away with everything...but one who can communicate better and encourage him to be better as well. Okay, where's my Super Nanny to fix our family??

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