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Random thoughts from a woman in love

Tag Archives: boundaries

So after a few hours of “break time” from the video game/parenting argument, I told Steve that I would appreciate it if he would try a different approach with the kidlet because of concerns that his relationship with Jamie is headed in the wrong direction.  His approach to the problem would solve nothing and only lead to pouting and more resentment.

Steve started to get all huffy-puffy defensive about the subject and tried to put his foot down, but one question from me stopped him in his tracks. I asked, “Do you agree I did a good job of raising my son?”  Ooooh!  Left jab to the solar plexus! I knew the answer he would give – “Yes.”

He made excuses, “But Jamie is spoiled.  He doesn’t respect me and he lies.”  I bobbed out-of-the-way of that one and took a right jab at him. “Yep, you’re right. He learned that behavior from a lazy mother who won’t discipline him and from a part-time father who parents by yelling all the time.  We are here to teach him better behavior. ”

After 10 more minutes of jabs and counter jabs, Steve finally told me, with tears in his eyes, “I don’t know what to do.  He hates me.” I did what no boxer in her right mind would do – I dropped my guard, hugged him tight and asked him to trust me.  I proceeded to lay out the plan, and he agreed to try it.  Round Two was over and I had won!

Jamie’s mother, God bless her, dropped of Jamie’s stuff the next morning.  Included in the “stuff” was the dreaded X-box, despite the fact we asked her to not bring it.  Ok – so we have some issues THERE, but we’ll address those another time.

When Jamie arrived later in the day, Steve very calmly explained to Jamie why he didn’t like the video games.  He then told Jamie that we have a new rule in the house, effective immediately:  Jamie would only be allowed to play video games for one hour each day, after homework and chores.  The game controller would be locked away when not in use.  Jamie angrily demanded that he be taken home because the rule was “stupid” and “not fair”.  We explained there would be no negotiating this rule and he would not be taken home.  He had a choice – one hour of games each day or none.  Calling his father or me names or throwing a temper tantrum would only result in no video games for the day; trying to negotiate a longer play time would result in no video play time for the weekend.  He quit his arguing and stomped off to his room to pout.

Dinner was a very, very quiet event.  After dinner, Steve handed Jamie the game controller, and told Jamie he would come get it back in one hour.  Steve also reminded him of the consequences of trying to negotiate a longer play time.  I was so proud of Steve – he did not raise his voice and remained very neutral as he restated the rules.  Woohoo!  As Jamie shut his bedroom door, Steve turned to me and said, “That felt good.  He seemed to listen to me.”  Yes, he did.

After the longest hour on record, Steve went upstairs, opened Jamie’s door and asked for the game controller.  Jamie sighed and rolled his eyes, told his online friends he had to go, and handed over the controller.  Oh my God! There was no argument (there was attitude, as we expected).  Steve thanked Jamie.

After he put away the controller, Steve invited Jamie to come downstairs to play Monopoly or Scrabble with us.  “Oh man! You are so going to be toast, dad!” Jamie yelled as he raced downstairs to get the Monopoly game board. We had a happy, laughter-filled competitive game of Speed-Monopoly, and Steve was “toast” at the end of the game.

As Jamie performed his victory dance around the kitchen, I had to smile and dance a little in my head.  Both the father and son had learned a lesson that day.  Thankfully, the rest of the weekend went the same way.  No arguments, no yelling and lots more fun than we had together in a long time.  Steve controlled his temper and Jamie responded so perfectly, it was like he was a new kid.  Boundaries do work, folks – for the parent AND the child.  I’m sure things won’t always go so smoothly, but we’ll keep working on those boxing…ummm…parenting skills and see how things go.  I think I won this match.

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Oh boy.  Our household has finally experienced a first – an argument between Steve and me.  After over a year of bliss, we are arguing about parenting, of all things.  The love of my life is the father of a 13 year old boy who now spends 4 days with us on every other weekend.

The aforementioned 13 year old boy is addicted to video games. Yes, addicted, and I believe it’s an addiction that can be managed through…parenting.  Gasp! What?  Parent the child? Heaven forbid! (I know, I know – my sarcasm is showing.)  Steve prefers the “enforcer” approach: demand at a deafening decibel that the video game system never make its way back into our home. It remains at the mother’s home. No ifs, ands or buts!  Disobedience would result in no more bi-weekly visitations. That got my Irish up.  Threatening a child with withholding of affection or security is wrong on so many levels. *sigh*

Remember when parenting meant setting boundaries to teach children how to manage themselves? I do.  My parents set very clear boundaries.  Respecting boundaries resulted in increased privileges and expanded boundaries.  Infractions resulted in swift, appropriate and as-promised punishment.

I once had my bicycle taken from me for a whole month one summer because I got caught riding it in the street, not once but TWICE!  I was 7.   My red Schwinn with white streamers on the handles sat locked up in the garage where I would gaze at it longingly every day for 30 very, very long days.  I loved that bike.  I learned a lesson from that transgression, and won’t do it again (ok – I’m 47 now and am allowed to ride my bike in the street, but I don’t ride against traffic…) Actions result in consequences – this is a lesson every child needs to be taught.

I learned a lot from my wonderful parental units.  For such young parents, they were so amazing.  They raised 4 daughters with love and patience, and, on the very rare occasion, a smack on the behind.  Steve’s parents were not so great (the stories I have heard from him and his siblings would curl your hair).  Actions from anger were the norm.  Fear was the parenting tool of choice.  Unfortunately, Steve is doing that “repeating history” thing.  It’s time he learned a different approach.

Normally, I will step out of the ring when he is parenting HIS son, but this time I am off the ropes, have my gloves on and am bobbing and weaving (pops taught us all how to box, can you tell?)  I am in this one until the ref calls Steve out on a TKO.  Now I just need to figure out how to teach parenting skills to a man who 1) feels like a failure as a parent and feels it’s too late to fix things; and 2) is more stubborn than a Scotsman.  It’s not too late.  This should be an interesting weekend.  Excuse me – gotta go.  I just heard the bell for ROUND ONE…

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