I will meet you there / by Susie Lubell

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there. - Rumi

Over the summer when I was desperate for more useful parenting tips I did a search on Positive Discipline training in my area and found a woman named Linda who does parent training workshops in this method. With very little understanding about the theories behind the methods, I had tried a few Positive Discipline tricks in the Spring to resounding success, but my tricks had run their course. The kids were on to me and I needed more ammo. We signed up for the course and recently completed it. 

The painting, my first watercolor in months, is for Linda. For showing us that beyond our daily struggles, the wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a place where we can meet as a family.

*warning - here is where I tell stories about using Positive Discipline in our home. You are free to jump ship.

Things are much better now. Many of the power struggles are gone. I slip back into my old ways. Sometimes daily. But the kids are responding well and the conflict in our house has lessened. As has my own anxiety about permanently damaging them. This stuff is not easy. And in the beginning it feels  mostly counter intuitive and also like everything you've done the last six years has sucked.

 A few things that are working:
  1. Family meetings
    We just started having family meetings on Sundays. We start out with family yoga led by my son who takes a yoga class on Thursdays at the JCC. Then we talk about something great that happened this week. Then we can talk about something that's bothering us. Everyone is calm. We establish any new rules and revisit rules previously established. It's important to do this at the family meeting instead of in the heat of rule breaking or misbehaving. No one can listen or understand when he or she in limbic mode. In those moments we just try to diffuse and move on.

  2. Allowance
    We started giving the kids a dollar a week. And we stopped buying them stupid crap. Now they can spend their own money to buy their own stupid crap. But if they'd rather save their money, then we match it.  And the allowance is not compensation for doing their chores. They have chores, like bringing their plates in from the table, but they know they have this job because they are part of our family and that we all have responsibilities. If they don't do their jobs, they still get paid, but we mention it at the family meeting. So far, they do their jobs and they feel they belong. 
A few weeks ago my son had a complete freak out because I wouldn't buy him something or take him some where after school. I don't even remember. When he got home he continued to shriek about it while wearing his favorite pink plastic high heels. He ended up stamping his feet so hard that he broke both shoes. And then I had to put him in a straight jacket because he started to foam at the mouth and his head was spinning 360 degrees. After close to an hour he stopped crying and begged for new shoes. In this frustrating moment I reverted to my old ways and told him there was no way he would ever get new shoes because he didn't deserve them since this is the way he treats his belongings. Then the next day he begged for the shoes again and I said if he behaved well for the next two weeks I might buy them.  Genius. Now we're in a power struggle that he can never win with a nebulous target we have no way of measuring. Outstanding. His only choice would be to one up me by being an even bigger pest. Three cheers!

I finally figured out what needed to be done. I told him that since he has his own money now he is welcome to buy himself a new pair of heels. His little bank only opens for withdrawal when he hits $10 so he had three weeks to wait but that I would continue to give him his $1 each week and that he could take his $5 to buy the heels and save the other $5. At first he wasn't thrilled about that idea. But once it sank in that he could buy his own things with his own money, he started to feel in control. And, like me, the boy really just wants control. He has one week left before the payout so he's getting excited. And he hasn't had a major come apart in going on three weeks.

Lots of resources on Positive Discipline on Linda's website and the Positive Discipline website. I haven't read any of the books but it's on my list right after I finish that third one in the Swedish murder media sex trade books.