Some days with B. are great, some days are difficult and some are extreme, crazy, loud and chaotic. I have never felt comfortable going through those extreme days. I tried to understand why B. does what he does, explain him what his actions do to other people, his surrounding.
Respect vs disrespect
I used to think I was taking a respectful approach to parenting until I realized I did not. That approach was respectful to B. but not to myself. I used to feel like a humiliated doormat, a failure, a wreck. And if the approach is not respectful to everyone, it is not respectful at all.
I unintentionally allowed B. to treat me disrespectfully by not clearly stating my personal boundaries and firmly sticking to family rules. M. even let B. do him what I considered too much. He allowed B. to hit him just because it did not hurt and because he is too small to understand. I kept asking M. why B. does not hit me. And I am sure it is because he knew it was my firm boundary that I will not allow him to hit me. We did it totally wrong. I knew it but I did not see the way out. So I kept looking for help in articles, videos, lectures, books for years…
Quest for solution
I have not read all the books in the photograph above yet. I am gradually working my way through them. There are so many more resources I studied from. Each of them explains approaches on real-life situations but I did not find any that would be similar to ours. So I just randomly tried sets of recommendations and they did not work in a long-term. That is why I looked for more, tried, bought more books… Until I found something familiar.
That book used examples of children’s behavior that very much resembled B.’s behavior. It was just a preview in one of online bookstores but I immediately knew that we need to have this book. Even M. read the preview and said it’s exactly like B. When the book arrived we started to read it together.
I realized I did not communicate my expectations and rules so B. could understand them. I was not firm enough. I think I did the respecting part well most of the time. I also have tried to understand why he does things – is he tired, scared, does he need more closeness, is he too young to understand…? The list could be endless. But never would I think, none of the resources I studied have suggested it, that he could lack clear and firm boundaries.
Now it seems unbelievable I did not consider this option, as I know I have problems with creating my boundaries but I thought it is just problem with other people, not the closest ones. But again, I was proved wrong. I am a person who tries to obey, fulfill wishes as soon as they are mentioned. B. is a researcher who test whether rules are just uttered or there are actions, consequences behind them. For me this is really hard to understand – not to cooperate and to try how far I can go and what other people can bear.
Looking back, I remember that this journey of boundaries gradually began some time ago. One of the steps I took was writing this post. Another step was watching a video about saying “no” to children. So I take more steps on this journey and hopefully it will lead to more balanced family life.