love is a battlefield

11 Nov

I know that I said I wouldn’t be writing embarrassing things about the kids, but this really isn’t about them, it’s about me, as a mom and us as parents. Also, you’re welcome in advance for all the Pat Benatar references.

You know how when you see other people’s kids misbehaving and being disrespectful you kinda of raise your eyebrows in judgement because you know that if they were YOUR kid, you’d get them in line? And that if only it was socially acceptable to pull Mom aside and impart your wisdom on her about how to gain control of an unruly kid? Well, today’s your lucky day! I am opening up the door and giving y’all free reign to lay it on me, hit me with your best shot (that’s 2 and I’m only one paragraph in!), let me have it. Deep breath…my daughter is a slob. And I really need advice.

Katherine’s room is in no uncertain terms, a mess of epic proportions. I wish I was exaggerating on this, but I’m not. She has trash all over her floor, clean clothes (that I’ve washed and folded meticulously) all over the floor, papers and books all over every flat surface, even in her bed. I ask nicely, I beg, I plead, I yell, I punish, I threaten, I do everything I can think of and she just doesn’t get it. She just WON’T clean it. I mean, yeah. She’ll spend hours cleaning it, and it stays clean for like a day, then it’s the same thing all over again. I ask her to put her clothes away and she “forgets”. I gave up asking her to make her bed every morning about 3 months ago. I was tired of fighting every morning.

Last night was yet another showdown. This time it ended with me making her put all of her clothes into garbage bags. I think my point was to show that she had such little respect for her stuff she might as well just throw it away, but honestly, I don’t even remember. By the end of these little go-arounds, she’s in tears and is telling me how I don’t understand and I’m so unfair, I’m so worn out I don’t even have the wits about me to finish the argument. This has become our norm of late, and it’s just a Heartbreaker (that’s 3!).

Don’t misunderstand me, Katherine is a good girl. She was just selected to be in the National Elementary Honor Society, she’s involved in community service activities, she’s a leader in her classroom, as well as her school, she’s kind, helps around the house, and is really a dream…except for this one area. And we’re really at our wits end. Chris and I made a pact when we got married, we would never be one of those couples that fight about money and kids. And we don’t, or at least we didn’t. We never fight about money, and up until the last few months, we never fight about the kids. But now it seems that’s all we argue about. He’s being too harsh, I’m being to lenient. He wants punish, I want to let it go. Meanwhile, it’s not solving anything, her room is still a mess, and we’re more confused than ever. (David incidentally is neater, but I think if I didn’t ask him every day, and given the choice, he’d be a slob too. He just doesn’t give me a hard time about it when I ask him to clean up.)

Our concern is that if we bend in this area, will she then expect us to bend in others? What will we be telling her? That it’s ok to drink and do drugs and have under age sex if you put enough of a fight with your parents? Because it isn’t. Everyone says pick your battles, but what if we don’t have any other battles? Or what if this is the battle we’re supposed to pick? What if we let this go and then she thinks that we’re pushovers? From everything I’ve heard, this is normal. But we don’t want “normal”, we want better than that. I want to teach them to respect themselves and their surroundings. I want to teach them responsibilities. I want to teach them that their actions (or inactions) have consequences. But I don’t want to fight every day. I don’t want to alienate them. I don’t want be their friend, but I want to available and I want them to feel like they can come to me with problems. I want them to be able to say “We Belong” (that’s 4!) and mean it, not feel like outsiders with us like I did with my parents. Will they do that if I don’t relent about this room cleaning thing?

She’s definitely her mother’s daughter, which scares me…a lot. What do you think? What would you do? Do you have any suggestions? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

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One Response to “love is a battlefield”

  1. Amy Cunningham November 11, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Okay, her is my 2 cents: Being an anal retentive, OCD neatfreak myself, I feel your pain. I cannot stand to have even one area of my home, let alone an entire room, be messy. However, as you said, she is a GREAT kid. That is her room, regardless of the fact that it is in YOUR home. Close the door and don't look at it. It's not like she is 3 and you are teaching her how to be neat. She knows, she just chooses not to be. If she comes to you complaining that something is lost or destroyed because of her mess. Oh well. Something isn't clean because it never made it to the laundry or ended up in a pile. Oh well. She is old enough to remedy the situation if she wants to. I wouldn't worry about "if we bend on this then what else" kind of thing. I liken it to Dillon's hair. People still keep asking me WHY am I letting him grow his hair so long???? Why not? It's his head! He is a great kid so why fight over this? Try letting it go for awhile. Just shut the door and shut it out of your mind. She might even decide on her own to keep it neat 🙂

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