For quite some time now I've been having an issue with my youngest Codi. He likes to lie. Codi will lie about anything. Codi will pour purple paint on a plate and turn right around and tell you the paint is green. It's been a huge problem.
One of the biggest things I want is for my kids to never be afraid to talk to me. For their entire lives I want them to feel like they can come to me with anything.
I want my children to know, no matter how bad they fuck up, what they do wrong, whatever happens that first and foremost their mother loves them. That I am on their side always.
When Codi's lying got to be a little bit ridiculous I started a new tactic. I started telling him that if he tells me the truth there will be no consequences. But if he lies there will be. That means that even if he went and smashed the TV to pieces for no good reason, as long as he told me the truth he would not be in trouble. This made my husband insane. His thinking was that if the kid smashed the tv (there was no tv smashing) he should be in trouble regardless if he told the truth. This is one of those times I laid down the parenting law and said we are doing this my way.
For many months Codi and I have suffered with the lying. He would lie an obvious lie and I would ask him if he lied. He would of course say no. Instead of yelling or punishing him I would just talk to him. I would explain the reasons I knew he lied, and give him one more chance. One chance would turn to four or five chances. Sometimes there would be tears and yelling I'M NOT LYING MOM, but eventually he would tell the truth. I had to stick to my word. I never punished him. Most people would say he should have been punished for continuing to lie, but I needed him to understand that the truth was the best answer.
It has slowly gotten better, now he usually only says "No" one time before admitting the truth.
But just now his brother came in and told me that Codi said, "shit." I called Codi in and I said:
"Codi, before you answer I want you to remember it is always best to tell me the truth right?"
He said yes. I asked if he said a bad word and he said, "No."
I paused for a second and rephrased, "Codi, did you say shit?"
He looked at me, thought for a second and said, "yes, I did."
I was so proud. So I explained to him that was a bad word. That only grown ups should say that, but that it's a bad word and grown ups really shouldn't even say it. I thanked him for telling me the truth. I told him he wasn't in trouble for doing it because he told the truth, and then we discussed it. I told him if he said it again he would be in trouble. Then I explained to him why I needed him to tell the truth. He may only be five but he needs to know that his mom is his best friend for life. That no matter what he needs to always feel like he can talk to me. He understood.
My goal is to create an environment where my kid never dreads talking to me. I don't ever want them to do something bad, or get a bad grade, or just…anything bad and have a fear of talking to me. I don't want them to ever have the feeling of dread as they come home knowing they have to talk to their parents. I want them instead to know, that they can come talk to us and tell us anything and we will talk it out. If they get bad grades, or skip school or punch each other, or whatever it is, I want them to feel comfortable enough to talk to me. More then that I want to be a good enough mom to be able to always listen first and then talk. I have made a huge effort not to yell lately. If you've read me for a while you know yelling is my problem area. I am working on that. After reading Willie Robertsons book (the guy from Duck Dynasty) I realized there are better ways to parent. When I talk to them I expect them to look me in the eyes. If the TV is on and I'm talking, they turn it off. If I ask them to clean up, they turn off the tv and do it. When I tell them to do something they need to reply, "yes mom," instead of "uggggg" or "but moooom."
They are getting better at it. If they answer with a "but mom" I just look at them and say, "is that the correct answer?" They always change their answer. I've gotten better about just talking to them. If they are fighting I try my hardest not to yell. Instead I try and ask them to work it out. I find consequences to their fighting. If they can't stop fighting then they have to stop what they are doing (riding scooters, playing a game, etc) and go to separate rooms in the quiet until they can decide to like each other again.
I am really trying hard to parent differently. I still mess up, I still yell, I still get totally overwhelmed and call my husband for back up, but I am trying. When I first had Brandon I had so many illusions about what parenting would be like. I would be the worlds best mom. I would never yell and my kids would never fight and everyone would envy my family. Somewhere along the lines I forgot to hold up my end of the deal. I am a work in progress. Today though, today was a perfect way of letting me know I am getting better. Codi told the truth. He told the truth and we discussed it and it was all over with in under two minutes.
Does this mean he can break the TV in the future and not get in trouble? NO. What this means, is that I hope to also parent in such a way that my kids don't even cause the kind of trouble that would make them afraid to talk to me. I am also aware that kids will be kids and they will cause trouble. I'd rather have them do something wrong and get away with it while earning their trust, then have them do something wrong and react in a way that makes them afraid to ever talk to me again. I'm hoping that at this young age I can make them realize they can trust me with anything. If someone makes them uncomfortable, if they have a broken heart, if they are being bullied, if they are having trouble in school, even if they don't like how I'm parenting. I want them to feel like they can talk to me.
My husband is working on it too. The other day Codi lied to him, pretty good and instead of getting really mad he calmly talked to him, and was super patient with him and he got the truth out of him. Even though he was furious at what Codi had done he handled it well and he earned Codi's trust by reacting calmly and evenly.
My hope is that I can look back on my life in twenty years and tell myself I was exactly the kind of mom I dreamt of being when my first baby was still in my belly. Those two boys are my whole life and I'm going to do every single thing it takes to be their whole life, and to give them the best life possible, even if that means that the person I need to work on the most is myself. I'm trying. I'm trying very hard to be the mom these boys were born deserving!
Because these two, they deserve the whole world.