Saturday, November 24, 2007

"Oh, NOW I know something I'm really thankful for."
I'm on call with the local police department this weekend. If there are victims of crimes in this city, they get a "free counselor/crisis intervention."

This morning I was "it" after a mother (living in a small, neighboring town) of Central American background was assaulted by her teen aged son and daughter. She'd gotten lost on the way to a business seminar and the "children" were increasingly agitated that they were lost and/or weren't going to get to the mall as quickly as anticipated.

She pulled off the main road into a commercial parking lot where witnesses were concerned enough for her welfare that they called the police. One officer said it took him and two other officers to subdue the son. Another told me that the daughter "had a mouth that would make a sailor blush." Witnesses reported that punches thrown and hair pulled.
When I arrived, she was tearful and said repeatedly, "All I wanted for my children is for them to be happy."

Which is why they now have no frustration tolerance, respect, self-control, nor freedom, at least for the next night or two (since they've been booked into the County juvenile facility.)

When I was first in the therapy business, my own kids sometimes wondered if they needed to act up in order to get the care and attention I obviously gave to my adolescent clients. Fortunately, we got that mis-understanding straightened out, and they realized that I don't intend to get in the way of them finding their own happiness, but that they have responsibilities, limits and self-determination which will allow them to get what they want.

I'm grateful I had help, support and mentors when my children were small.

I'm grateful I had friends and a therapist who taught me to be an adult rather than a doormat, a parent rather than a friend, a guide rather than disciplinarian, curious rather than dictatorial, and to take a deep breath when my own adrenaline and fear buttons got pushed.

I'm grateful my children quickly learned to believe me and take me seriously.

I'm grateful they found the courage and initiative to think things through, make smart choices, celebrate successes and repair disappointments.

I'm grateful my children's father had strengths, values and character traits that complemented mine even though we did not live together for most of the childrens'"childhoods."

I'm grateful that others: parents and children, can learn what I learned-- even if it seems too late.

Teach your children that "people and things aren't for hurting."
Teach yourself to breathe deep and reassess what is and isn't an emergency for you OR for your children. (Being sworn at is not an emergency. Not being allowed to use the phone is not an emergency. Being told to do chores before playing is not an emergency.
-- I love Erma Bombeck's definition: It's only an emergency if someone is bleeding or on fire.)
Teach your children that there are consequences (big time!) for arguing with police officers, no matter how frightened they are.
Teach your children to find and focus on what they are grateful for.


Holly said...

I often wonder if I would have what it takes to raise children in this time and society. I feel that I can say with some confidence that I have successfully raised my children, but my parenting skills seem to have little resemblance to what I see around me now. Just the phrase "teach your children" is an alien concept these days.

Tony LaRocca said...

Wow! That's some story! There's times when my (usually sweet) 9-year-old son tries to get away with something, and I have to remind myself that "if this is as bad as it gets, I got it made!"

juj said...

SO beautifully said. Thank you for posting this thoughtful, important, intelligent post. (and yeah for mentioning Erma - always reminds me of my own mom, makes me smile..)