Your kids know when you’re being a brat. Do you?
Kenny has a slew of t-shirts with funny quips on them. I buy these for him when I’m out and about because he’s a typical boy in the sense that he loathes shopping, thinks Crocs are an all-occasion shoe, and could live in tees and carpenter shorts year round (we live in East Texas, so yea…this is a possibility).
I also purchased this shirt because it screamed at me, “I dare you to buy me and be forced to face your biggest daily challenge day after day.”
Shirts don’t talk to you?
If you were not aware, I’m an only child. I had years and years to perfect selfishness and to nurture control issues. No one came and took things from my room. I never had to share a bathroom. I didn’t have to battle for my parents’ attention. And Christmas was AMAAAAAAZING. Also? I was a brat.
Now, you wouldn’t have known I was a brat when you first met me. Oh no, no, no, I could sell it! I was fun, energetic, and always the life of the party! But, much like a jack-in-the-box, you didn’t really know what you were getting into until you stuck around a while, and then, “POP! GOES THE WEASEL!”
Though I didn’t realize it in until my best friend in 6th grade told me, I expected the universe to revolve around me. It has been one of my life’s greatest learning curves.
My parents occasionally remind me of how I “shared” the backseat with a friend who joined my family on a trip to visit my grandparents. As an only child, I was used to having the full, luxurious length of the backseat all to myself. I would situate my pillow “just so” and stretch across the bench seat with my Walkman and box of favorite cassettes at the ready. Donning headphones on my ears and propping my feet up on the door, I was in my own world.
So, while I was thrilled to have a friend join me at my grandparents’ house, I forgot that meant I would have to share the backseat – MY backseat. I did pretty well on the way to my grandparents’ home, but failed miserably on the return.
It went something like this, “You sit there against the door, and I will lie across the seat and put my head in your lap.” She did it, but I’m pretty certain she didn’t want to. Also? She didn’t particularly like me much after the 1 hour and 45 minute drive home. Usually I would have really cared about whether or not she liked me, but she was in my space, and I cared about that more.
As a homeschooling parent I am with my kids all day, so there is ample time for my inner controlling brat to reveal itself to my children. The thing is I recognize that controlling parents are no different from playground bullies, but for the fact that society gives us much more leeway to push around our kids.
Harnessing my tongue is part of my anti-brat campaign. For instance, when Emelie was going through her Punky Brewster phase, I learned not to say “You can’t wear that, you look like a circus act.” Instead, I honestly asked her if she realized she did not match. When she stated that yes, she recognized that, I smiled and said, “Okay, let’s go.”
And of course, last week when Kenny needed twice the amount of time to do his schoolwork due to his incredibly shrinking pencil, I had to step back, let go of control, and let him stretch out the day before my very eyes for the sake of his own experiment.
I don’t need to control their clothes or their time. I just tend to want to because it directly affects me when I don’t. But when I step back I can see that my better way is simply that – my better way. It works for me. They have their own lives, and they need to be free to explore what works for them. After all, I pride myself on the fact that I’m raising rationally thinking beings, so why not take advantage of it?
Homeschooling and controlling should never be synonymous. Successful homeschoolers guide their children by feeding their strengths and recognizing their weaknesses. If you are not aware of what exactly makes your child tick, try learning about your child’s personality type, as well as your own. By knowing and understanding them better, we can guide them instead of controlling them. Controlling is not guiding; instead, it is manipulating or forcing kids into a box of one’s liking.
And honestly? I do not need to release three more me’s into this world.