Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Ode to Mr. Rodgers
I have very fond memories of watching Mr. Rogers when I was young. The Crayon Factory episode made such an impact that I excitedly showed it to my children on the computer 20 years later. I not only watched Mr. Rogers but we had a cassette tape of many of the songs he sang on the show. "I like to take my time", "Man that Manufactures" and "Beautiful day in the Neighborhood" to name a few. Little did I know when I was a child that Mr. Rogers was teaching me social skills while we were living in the land of make believe. I learned that I needed to use my words when I was frustrated instead of hitting. I learned that it was important to be kind, to be obedient to my parents, to ask questions when I didn't understand. Looking back with adult eyes the one thing that Mr. Rogers taught me that I have needed the most as a parent is "Go back to the basics."
Last week I reached my breaking point with my boys. I snapped. The fighting, whining, disrespect, defiance, I'd had enough. We came home from scouts and I sent them to their beds and went on a walk. I have been reading The Explosive Child and The Defiant Child, trying to figure out what to do with my children. On my walk, a part from both of the books finally clicked into place for me. I was so fixed on what my children were doing or not doing I wasn't looking at my behavior. Talk about blow to the ego. Was my behavior as a parent helping to create or perpetuate the problems we were having? You probably can guess the answer, it was.
I came home from the walk with my dog calmer but more determined. I went into their rooms and started taking toys, books, video games, anything I could find that they liked. I looked each of my children in the eyes and said, "These are mine. I paid for them and you don't deserve to use them with your behavior as it is". It didn't go over well, but I stood firm. I had realized that I had enabled the bad behavior by making excuses for them. "Well they just don't know better, they have ADHD/ Autism". What I realized was by doing this I was allowing their bad behavior by not setting basic boundaries and expecting them to comply. I have been so used to dealing with their inability to do certain things that I had used my children's diagnosis es to excuse behavior that they actually could control.
So I went back to the basics with Mr. Rogers. With the song "I like to take my time" in my mind I have spent the past week deprogramming and reprogramming my children. It has been so far an overall success. I have had to put extra effort and time in this week. I have had to be mean mom and watch my children cry as they are figuring out boundaries and expectations again. I have had to admit my role in my children's behavior, which was no small pill to swallow. But as I see the small success I see the truth of it. The basics are the basics for a reason. They work.
So thank you Mr. Rogers. When you taught me the basics you also made it possible for my children to learn them as well, even though to my sorrow, your show was too slow to catch their attention when they were young.