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Hope for My Parenting Future

August 7, 2012

Lately I feel like I’ve really been struggling with my parenting efforts. Maybe Sophie is going through a stage. Maybe I’m going through a stage. Whatever it is, I feel as if things are not the way they should be between us, and every day is a struggle in some way or another.

However, so I don’t just come off as a whiney and tired mom (because I am right now), I want to relate this parenting struggle post to something else. And that is the theme of hope.

You’re probably asking, “What the heck is she talking about?”

During the midst of these struggles, I was invited by Lesley at Merlin’s Garden to take place in a blogging exercise entitled Hope 2012: A Blog Relay. The idea was initiated by blogger Melanie Crutchfield. Each participant writes a post about some aspect of hope. Since I am dealing with Sophie issues, I thought I’d try to focus on the hope that comes from the struggle.

Lets start with the clothing battles. Waking up for camp this summer has been quite a challenge. Particularly when it’s come to getting dressed in the morning. Every day was the same thing: Sophie wakes up and doesn’t know what to wear. This shirt itches, she’d say. Or this dress feels a little strange, she’d mutter. The next thing I know, we are down to five minutes before departure. At that point, I am extremely frustrated because she was not dressed and we’re late to school. Before you go suggesting it, we tried laying out the outfit the night before. Nine times out of ten, said outfit was not okay in the morning.

This recently transferred over to shoes and socks last week when she spent 20 minutes (I am not exagerating – I timed it) starring at the shoe basket because she didn’t know what shoes to wear. I lost it. It was not pleasant. This is not the mother I want to be in the morning (or at all really).

Where is the hope, you ask?

Well, one night after I was dreading another morning like those described above, Sophie asked if she can wear her next-day clothes to bed.

“Why?” I asked. 

She looked at me and calmly said, “Well if I have my clothes on when I get up in the morning, I’ll already be dressed for camp. And it will take less time to get ready.”

The kid made a compelling argument, so how could I refuse the request? And really, is wearing clothes vs. pajamas something I really care to fight over right now? Ever since then, getting dressed in the morning is a non-issue.

I have hope because we are still working on the shoe issue.

The other area that I’m really struggling with is Sophie’s new-found (but not always) disrespect toward me. I sometimes feel like crying that my own daughter is being so rude. I have tried talking to her about how her words and actions hurt my feelings. But that didn’t resonate. Last week I told her in a very loud voice that this behavior is unacceptable and had to stop. This tactic worked for a while and Sophie even found herself catching herself and rephrasing things when she was on the brink of being rude.

We had a set-back at Target this past weekend that resulted in me telling her the television was off limits for the rest of the day. I did not yell; I calmly explained that the behavior needed to stop and there is now a consequence for it. This one did resonate with Sophie. And while I hate to use punishment in that fashion, I may need to use resort to this strategy if that’s what will curb the behavior.

Again, where’s the hope in this situation? Well, to be quite honest, I’m not exactly sure. I’m still struggling and I’m sure that I’m to blame in some way for this mess.

But knowing me and Sophie – and how close we really are – I have hope that things will improve and return to normal soon.

People often use the word hope along with two other powerful words – faith and love. As I think about my current parenting struggles, I remind myself that I love Sophie beyond words. I have faith that both Sophie’s and my intentions are truly good, and we will get past this awkwardness. And I have hope that we will become an even stronger mother and daughter because of the struggles.

I now pass the Hope 2012: A Blog Relay torch onto you. What does hope mean to you?

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Deborah Wiley permalink
    August 7, 2012 1:36 am

    Leah, this is a beautiful and honest telling of your relationship with your daughter. I think you are both doing a fine job at discovering how to live with each other. Be kind to yourself in this role, remember, there is no right or wrong way. You are both learning from each other. I love how Sophie decided on her own to wear her next day clothes to bed so she wouldn’t have the burden of having to decide her wardrobe the next morning. Brilliant! And you allowed her to be who she is in this. I feel your love. In this beautiful telling, you have surrendered to your own knowing, understanding that your deep love for each other is your strength. With love, Deborah

    • August 13, 2012 11:20 pm

      Thank you, Deborah. Your comment made my morning when I read it. I felt a renewed sense of hope. Thanks!

  2. August 7, 2012 4:02 am

    Love the clothes idea. Maybe add the shoes and socks too. She’ll get tired of it eventually.
    I’m sorry to hear about the rudeness- I have struggled with that for years. Finally at 21– Lydia is much better — hate to tell you that middle school/high school might not be a picnic. I think the immediate consequences are good ideas. Good luck!

    • August 13, 2012 11:21 pm

      Actually, Sophie did opt for wearing her shoes and socks last week. It worked brilliantly!

  3. August 7, 2012 7:30 am

    It’s nice to hear that another mother of a daughter has the same struggles that I have. I use punishment a lot for the behaviors I hope to curb long before the teenage years. I always thought having a baby was hard, but babies don’t talk back or have opinions. These school years are trying in a whole new “special” way. Hang in there!

    • August 13, 2012 11:21 pm

      And I’m glad to hear you have struggled with similar issues with your daughter. Definitely makes me feel less alone.

  4. Lorena permalink
    August 7, 2012 9:00 am

    It’s interesting to read about your experience, Leah. Lou is only 14 months old, but he’s becoming more independent everyday, and we’re starting to discipline him and trying to figure out what works best for him and his personality. I wonder how it will be when he’s Sophie’s age…

    On another note, as a daughter who is now a mother, I regret a lot of my behavior towards my mom when I was younger. I was a dutiful child, but rebelled A LOT as a teenager. I’ve since apologized to my mom (yes, I was that bad), and we are much closer now. So, just remember, “hope springs eternal.” Good luck!

    • August 13, 2012 11:23 pm

      Thanks, Lorena. I think there’s something about a mother-daughter relationship that is always tense and wonderful. Lout is a lucky little boy to have you for a mom.

  5. August 7, 2012 11:22 am

    So good to hear that there is someone else out there witnessing a transformation in their little girl. Its all part of growing up I am sure and I find myself looking at my daughter and remembering feeling frustrated at her age and thinking that it was never my fault, it was always life’s unfairness. So I bear that in mind and think to myself, now how would I have wanted my mother to respond to this if it was me, even when the behaviour is really quite extraordinary. 🙂

    Bonne courage Leah!

    • August 13, 2012 11:24 pm

      Thanks for your kind and encouraging words, Claire. I always appreciate hearing from others who have gone through these situations.

  6. August 7, 2012 11:56 am

    I know girls are challenging – I myself have boys, but all my girlfriends have daughters and boy, do they struggle. What I’d like to hear is how Sophie’s dad feeling about her rudeness toward you. Maybe Brian should talk to her.

    • August 13, 2012 11:24 pm

      Oh Bryan is not happy with the rudeness either. He will lay into her if he catches her being rude. So I know he’s got my back. She is never as rude to him though.

  7. August 7, 2012 1:30 pm

    Oh, boy…I don’t even know what I’ll do with myself when my daughter reaches this phase. But it really sounds like you’re handling it gracefully, which is hopeful not only for your relationship with her, but also for our collected future, since parents are building out futures with their children. I think they key to most parenting issues is acting out of love and respect for your child—something you seem to be doing quite well. Thank you for sharing the hope in your family!

    • August 13, 2012 11:25 pm

      Thanks for your nice words, Melanie. I do believe that how I interact with Sophie now will determine our future. That’s why I want to be firm, yet show love at the same time. Lets how it works!

  8. August 7, 2012 4:28 pm

    Leah, this is such an honest post. I had to smile reading it, not because I was amused by your trials, but because I could so relate. My daughter used to make me want to tear my hair out, sometimes. (I know, that’s a cliché, and I’m a writer, so I should say something more clever, but it’s just so apt.) Parenting is the hardest thing ever. It’s feeling our way in the dark most of the way, and the stakes feel so high (because, hey, aren’t they?), but you will survive it. And so will she.

    I think Sophie’s idea to sleep in her clothes is actually the kind of work around that a very bright, creative person comes up with. She thinks outside the box of common expectation – which is a sign of intelligence.

    Speaking from my own experience with my two kids, kids (and parents) go through phases, ups and downs, good times and not so good times. It all passes, and only the love remains. So, just keep being you and loving her. Whether it seems like it or not right now, you’re doing great.

    • August 13, 2012 11:26 pm

      Thank you, Cynthia! I appreciate your encouraging words. And I’m glad the sleeping in clothes has paid off. I do think my respecting her idea helps her feel listened to as well.

  9. August 8, 2012 11:04 am

    Leah, have two girls and relate to this SO much. Thanks for sharing.

    • August 13, 2012 11:26 pm

      Thanks, Nina! It’s nice to know we’re not alone in this.

  10. August 8, 2012 12:35 pm

    Actions have consequences. Try to make the punishment fit the crime, and your daughter will learn what she needs to know to prepare her for life. It’s not being mean, it’s being wise and parental, which is your role. 🙂 You will be glad one day, and she will NOT stop loving you. And don’t feel guilty or that it’s your fault! She’s struggling to understand her own feelings as she is growing up, which is a normal thing. ((hugs))

    • August 13, 2012 11:27 pm

      Thank you, Lynn, for your very nice comments. I do fear she won’t love me, so I appreciate you reminding me not to worry about that.

  11. August 9, 2012 12:08 am

    It sounds like your doing a good job. Keep on keeping on and hang in there, look at yourself and how you are now as an adult and that should give you the faith and hope that Sophie will grow up to be a wonderful lady like you.

    The one hope that helped me through times like this when my child was young was knowing that no matter what he was doing that was testing the rules, I knew with time “This too shall pass”

    • August 13, 2012 11:28 pm

      Thanks, E.C. I appreciate your nice words and also keep the “This too shall pass” phrase on my mind.

  12. August 9, 2012 2:19 pm

    Leah, I can relate. Some days are just one big parenting facepalm for me, and others are glowing models of familial bliss. A friend once told me that kids go through phases of being with it and being out of it (she used fancier words). And sometimes two kids are out of it, sometimes just one, and sometimes we’re all great (I’m not counting the baby in the equation ’cause she’s too little to create much of a wave). And then there’s me, am I rested, am I fed, am I moody?

    So many factors.

    One thing that I did feel that helped, despite all those potential complications, is when I’m taking a parenting class. When I’m actively engaged in trying to improve (or at least be aware of) my parenting choices, I feel much more hopeful about my abilities to parent.

    It sounds like you’re doing great. And we are certainly all entitled to be whiny and tired, because parenting is really hard. I’m giving you a pat on the back right now.

    • August 13, 2012 11:28 pm

      Thanks, Rivki. It’s so reassuring to know we’re all going through these struggles. I appreciate the pat on the back.

  13. August 13, 2012 11:07 am

    Thanks for sharing your struggles with Sophie as well as the positive things. This tells me you are a ‘real’ parent with a ‘real’ child! Struggles are all part of a child growing up and becoming the person they were destined to be. Well done for keeping things in perspective and seeing the hope in your present situation.

    • August 13, 2012 11:29 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth. One thing I’ve always wanted to be with Sophie is real. I am glad you noticed that in the post and with our relationship. It’s not perfect, and that’s okay. Thanks for your encouraging words!


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