Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day 158: Trigger Happy

With every problem in life one can choose to manage symptoms or address the cause. And physical or emotional, I prefer to do the latter.

My current struggle to look past the surface of Jackson's behavior could probably be managed if I learned and practiced a few tools, and certainly that will have its place as I work through this. But I don't want to be satisfied with that; I don't want to keep pruning weeds and leaving the roots to continue growing.

So what is the cause?

It's the script I carry from childhood. Quite frankly his behavior is a trigger for the authoritarian values I absorbed as a child, but have consciously chosen to reject as an adult. And so the knee-jerk reaction when these abandoned, yet not escaped beliefs are triggered is to focus on behavior modification through punitive discipline.

When he doesn't do as told, when told, he's "defiant." When he makes a choice that isn't in line with my desires, he's "disrespectful." When he doesn't fall in line, I'm not "in control." When he uses stall tactics he's "manipulative." When I "allow" him the simple freedoms he deserves he's "walking all over me" and I'm "permissive." Because as a parent my role is to be powerful, respected (read: obeyed), and in control.

In only a few weeks of really butting heads with this issue, I've seen a sad decline in my relationship with him. He's not as open with me, he's not desiring cooperation and respect as he used to because so little is coming his way. He's feeling the adversarial context I've been setting us in, and he's reacting.

It's devastating to watch these things happen and to feel so incapable of changing the pattern we're in. But I am capable of change and we are going to find our way back to center and back to the harmony we have experienced before. If I choose connection over correction, responsiveness over reactivity, and cooperation over control.

Outing those beliefs and that running script is step one, so when I feel the anger rising and the need for control rearing its ugly head I'm going to look to the source - and remind myself that it's never my children and always within me.


  1. I just want you to know that you're in my head all the time as I tell myself that I set the tone for what happens in my house by how I choose to present things to my children and how I react to them.

    Not that everything around here goes smoothly all the time, of course, but one of the problems that many parents have is that they pile it on and they don't just forget about little incidents. The children are already over it and when they're little, we need to get over it too. I struggle with that a lot but having you in my head makes it easier. So thank you.

  2. Molly, you seriously made my week. It's such a privilege to be able to share in this journey with other like-minded mamas, so thank you, thank you, thank you for the encouragement!