A few weeks ago, I reached the end of my parenting rope. My children had been defiant, bickering, hitting, pushing, tattling, crying, yelling, and accusing incessantly for what surely must have been months. Absolutely no consequences made any difference, and there was defiance and backtalk when a consequence was laid out.
I had reached my tipping point. I had tried talking calmly, yelling in kind, timeout, grounding, forcing them to hug it out, and threats of spanking (not proud of that).
Finally, my crier with the shortest fuse started beating on one of his brothers for who knows what, probably looking at him, and so he got sent to his room for the rest of the day.
Let the theatrics begin.
The tears. The threats. The accusations. The justifications. They went on for hours. HOURS!
Finally he came whimpering into my room at 9:15 looking to explain himself and be comforted, but reengaged in the all-to-familiar water-works when he was told to go back to his room.
“FINE! I GUESS YOU DON’T CARE IF I DIE, THEN!” were, I think, the exact words that vibrated the walls.
I lost it. I marched into his room and give him a spanking I hoped he wouldn’t soon forget!
I went back to my room and laid in my bed and listened to him cry himself to sleep, praying that he wouldn’t remember.
Then, ironically, I cried inconsolably. I prayed for forgiveness, strength to get through this phase with the kids, and for forgiveness again. And again, and again, and again.
The next morning I got up to face it all again. I said a quick, “Please help me get through this morning,” as I got out of bed and went downstairs.
I think that was the only reason that the next part didn’t end up with a neighbor calling CPS.
The same boy who got the spanking the night before decided he didn’t want to go to school and stood in the middle of the front yard crying and not budging.
I went out the door, furious, and had one tiny moment of clarity.
“It’s OK,” it said. “Just tell him he has to stay outside.”
Recognizing what for it was, an answer to my plea for help, I went out and gave him his options. Go to school or sit on the front porch. He chose the porch.
I checked on him a couple of times throughout the day. It was cold and he had eaten his lunch by 9:30, but there was blanket on the porch, and he had at least eaten. He was not interested in going to school and stayed out there the until I picked up the other boys.
I have to admit that I was nervous he would repeat the same behavior the next day, but I was in the clear.
And here’s the take away, because what good is a lesson if I don’t learn from it.
I need to ask for help more often. Whenever I ask for it, I get it. Like with the hitting thing. Another moment of clarity since nothing else was working. They have to go pick up dog poop every time they hit. It has worked miraculously! Why didn’t I think of that sooner?
So, occasionally I need to fail as a parent so I remember I can’t do it on my own. I don’t have the troubleshooting guide to these people, but Heavenly Father does, and He’s willing and happy to help.