Yesterday, I received a gorgeous blogger drop from Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Because neither Walter or I eat chocolate, my girls knew they were in for a treat. I’d promised them that if they ate their supper, they could have a piece of chocolate before bath time.
Of course, my go to parenting technique of bribery and corruption is not fail proof and my girls got into a huge fight over dinner which resulted in Ava dumping her juice into Hannah’s bowl of supper. Naturally the reward was revoked and I informed them there would be no chocolate after supper.
What happened next is what every mother dreads! And what every adopted mother fears!
Ava shouted at me that she hates me and I’m not her mother anyway!
It hurt you guys. It was like a knife straight through my heart.
She was sent to her room and told not to come out until she’d apologized to me, this from her father. After 5 minutes in her room, she was more than happy to give me an apology. I told her she’d hurt my heart and that you can’t go around saying things like that to people. Of course, you can go around saying those things but not when you’re my sweet, kind-hearted Ava-Grace! She started apologizing profusely and saying she hadn’t meant it, but still, the knife in my heart stung.
Afterwards I went and read up on what is the best way to handle this situation, because I know it’s not uncommon for kids to say stuff like this and not mean it, but it doesn’t mean it hurts any less and I wanted to be better prepared for it should it happen again.
I mean, we’re parenting in a different era to our own parents. I would never have dared say something like that to my mother, because I knew, a snot klap would land before the sentence was even out my mouth!
Here’s what the experts say:
1. Remain Calm – to be honest, I did’t feel like I was going to lose my cool, I was so shocked and hurt when the words left her mouth that there was no time to even lose my temper.
Apparently remaining calm is also a great lesson in teaching my child self control, by exercising self control. This could also help her with her own anger and impulse control in the future.
2. Acknowledge that the words hurt – accept the hurt but try not to take it personally (this is easier said than done when I think about how I live my entire life for my kids) and don’t let the hurt determine your behavior in the moment.
3. Avoid the urge to hurt back – this is an easy step for me, I love my children too much and it’s not in my nature to have a tit for tat response to anyone. While it is human nature to become defensive, remember, this is your child and they don’t really mean what they’ve said.
4. Don’t scream and shout – this response is about as effective as saying something hurtful back. It’s completely ineffective and I’ve learned this time and time again.
As hard as it was, for me, I had to show Ava, through my words and actions immediately after the event. that I still loved her, unconditionally, because I do and that nothing she said could change that. That lashing out and verbalizing her anger, no matter how misdirected, or her sense of loss of control over a situation would not solve it or change it.
This last paragraph is especially true for me, because my children are adopted and there is already that primal wound in place, I feel an added responsibility to always ensure that they know they are unconditionally and irrevocably loved and that there is NO CHANCE of abandonment, conscious or otherwise.
Lastly, every resource I read on this topic (and there are tons of them) say you should not take it personally. That is a difficult thing to do when such a large part of parenting is sacrificial love for our children. And I’m trying, I’m really trying to not take it personally because in my heart I know she loves me, I know she didn’t mean it, I know it was said in anger, but still……