Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spare the Rod...

Well, for some reason stranger than the fact that I live with two tweens, children and child rearing have randomly been on my mind. As a post-college 20-something, my friends and classmates are beginning to marry and have kids. I can't sign on to facebook without seeing someone's status about how much they love being a mom. And that just plum weirds me out.

As a matter of fact, in my quest to meet people and make friends, I had recently begun speaking to the village idiot a guy who has expressed a strong interest in getting to know me (even though I stated that we wouldn't date in a million years I wasn't interested in romance at this point in time. See, I've got tact. More specifically, this guy asked me, in our first series of conversations, if I wanted children. I replied as earnestly as I typically do as such a query: "I don't see myself as a mom at this point in my life. [That is] One of those bridges me and my potential mate should cross together when we get there." He, himself, has four children (by the same person, from a previous marriage) and expressed that he wanted more. When I asked why he would want more, he said that he didn't know...*confused face*

I also have a good friend who I've discussed children with on many occasions. He's incredibly intelligent (and has several children himself, including a son that is older than I), and he believes like most wackos in certain aspects of eugenics. And while I'm not entirely certain that I'd be willing to buy into all of nature having control over the type of people your children will become, I can agree that I'm less than willing to donate my genetic material to someone I see unfit (..but isn't that what the courtship is about -- determining whether or not a person would be a good person to build a life with?).

At any rate, I had a very serious and sincere conversation with my Sula about child-rearing and the fact of the matter is -- the thought terrifies me. I'm admittedly very unnecessarily analytical most times, and I think that having children is something that people should be analytical about. And while she assured me that I wouldn't be a bad mom at all, I get terrified wondering if I will. Or, even, if I'll get bored or "over it" after a week's time and not know what to do after that. When I was younger, I was sure I wanted a gigantic family with a dozen kids. I even knew that I wanted to have a medication- (and possibly hospital)-free birth, which might sound strange but chalk it up to being too far into my natural-lifestyle and TLC/Discovery baby shows. And while they aren't infants, living with pre-teens has become rough a little difficult for me.

At the suggestion of one commenter I began reading "For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence" by Alice Miller. So far, I am very interested in the concepts presented. I'm sure I've mentioned not being a fan of spanking children a time or two before; I've also pointed out that my being a non-parent makes me easy to say such a thing. Yet, while I've not experienced being a parent (yet?), I have been a child who has spanked and I've seen the different effects and outcomes that it has had on me and my two siblings. I'm quite sure that I'm getting too personal in sharing, and that's because I'm raw(!), but I think that spanking did more negative in my life than positive. My boofriend will argue this point since he works with and "knows" kids in a different (and far deeper) capacity than I do, and I'm cool with other opinions. I just don't think I'd spank.

Yet, back to my life in the present, I've found that my tween cousins are having a difficult time respecting me as an adult. I would like to believe that this is because they knew me when I was youngerthananadult(as I'm not that much older). At first they were cool with it, as I'm like the cool older sister they never had. Yet lately, since I've been here a couple of months and the newness has worn off, they've turned into Satan's offspring developed different attitudes.

I try to correct them when they say wrong. They don't care. I ask them what they learn in school, they reply "nothing". They aren't excited that I live in their home, and as a girl who grew up with many surrogate siblings (because my parents thought they were the foster home), I can sympathize. Yet, when they get mouthy and disrespectful, their parents encourage me to beat them. The oldest has a horrendous attitude problem, and I can't lie, I popped her once, and thought, "why am I doing this?" I couldn't do it. And while I want to believe that they are only children; though knowing the difference between right and wrong, they will behave as children. Adolescence is a difficult time. I mean, the oldest just had her first menstrual cycle and I remember the changes. I can imagine how difficult this time in their lives must be for them; but again, they know the difference between right and wrong and while they might misbehave often and cut-up to the point where I have to remind myself of their ages and fight the frustration within, they don't mouth off to other adults like they do me.

And it is because the other adults (parents and other relatives) beat them. And I just can't. And I have no clue how to gain their respect (and, hopefully again, their admiration).

And I'm pulling out my hair in frustration. How can I get them to look at me as a person, and not someone they can mistreat, without having to physically discipline them? I feel as though it is my responsibility (and every other person's) to be a positive influence in other people's lives -- especially children's. How can I keep them positive, motivated, encouraged, and respectful individuals? And having been raised and "beaten" (the Black term for spanked), am I too late to gain their respect without corporal punishment?

Be Righteous.

1 comment:

  1. Very good post. I enjoyed this. I was spanked as a child and no being in my 30's, I don't resent my mother for it. Although I did as a child *Kanye shrug*
    I have 2 kids of my own and have spanked them. I can count on both hands my recollection of getting spanked and to the degree of the spanking. Each one of mine have been spanked and from a parental perspective, I feel it was warranted. What I do more often than not is speak to mine kids ALOT after the fact and consistently. I reflect back without force feeding to them of what caused that punishment and they relate, understand and agree it was warranted. I'll be honest and say, I do feel bad and now that they're getting older, I do more talking in a matter-of-factly tone with them, eye to eye, toe to toe. I feel where I gain their trust is I don't just come off as 'do as I say, not as I do' but I call out their thoughts they may be going through their head as what would go through my head when my mother would preach, lecture, nag, or whatever word I would use at that time. When I do this with my 2, it's like a light bulb goes off on top of their heads. "Wait, mom does know what she's talking about?"

    Parents back in the day raised you as I'm your parent, not your friend. This is something I believe to this day, but I guess this day and age, a parents best bet would be to relate on some level. In my humble opinion.