Friday, June 26, 2009

Fighting with Boys

I do not want to live my life in constant conflict with my kids. In fact, that's why I try to use more peaceful parenting techniques, why I try to be responsive to their needs and why I encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings with me.

And yet....sometimes it just happens.

Take this morning, for instance. Boy #2 was not happy. I'd signed him up for 4-H day camp and he did NOT want to go (as he told me in no uncertain terms).

To be fair, I knew that he wouldn't want to sign up for day camp. I know that he's felt that way for the last two years he's gone. I also know that he had an absolutely fabulous time every time he's attended, as evidenced by the huge smile and non-stop chatter on the way home.

So I signed him up anyway, in part because I knew he'd have fun and in part because I had work and appointments today and needed a safe, stimulating place for him.

As far as he was concerned, though, I was the meanest mommy in the world. I know it didn't help that he was tired today, after a series of four late nights. Ideally, he would have been well-rested before being confronted with a situation he finds challenging, to say the least. But real life isn't ideal.

He's probably at camp now, having a great time. I, meanwhile, still feel icky about the whole situation.

How do you feel when you fight with your boys? What do you fight about? How do you handle it when your boys' needs conflict with your own?


  1. I remember those days, and I can tell you that when he's older, he'll forget this, and so will you. He's probably already forgotten. I'm so glad I have boys as they don't seem to hold a grudge, the way some girls do.

  2. So did he have a good time? I can relate, I was always that kid who resisted then enjoyed every second of the activity I was in. I survived and so will he!

  3. So H.E., how do you feel about it now? Are you glad your parents pushed/nudged you into things, or do you still carry some lingering resentment that they didn't respect your feelings at the time?

    And GutsyWriter, I hope you're right!

  4. I hope you'll update us on how he felt when he came home.
    This is one of those tricky areas that I find so difficult as a parent. My first son was particularly slow to warm to new situations. As he got older and got many more positive experiences under his belt and become more confident, it helped him to become more comfortable with his resistance and discomfort, and so this has gotten easier, but not always.

  5. This is really hard, and really easy. Hard, because *mom* needs are not being met, and *son* needs are not being met. Easy because *son* needs are being clearly stated "I don't want to go" and mom can easily allow that to happen. The interesting part of this, for me, is to watch what happens to the *son* reaction once you validate his feelings and needs. Once you give in, say yes, acknowledge, validate what he is clearly telling you, does his reaction change? Instead of manipulating him into going, could you have found a way to get both of your needs met? "Yes, I hear you. Don't go to camp. Here is what *I* was hoping to get done today. Is there something we can get for you to do so I can do these things?" Maybe a movie, a book, a playdate? Do all the boys have plans for the day, and is this an opportunity for him to be home alone with you? I think he may be around 9? My 9 year old is clearly showing me he needs to be in control of his schedule right now. He also seems to need more down time than ever before.

    Just some thoughts!

  6. Thanks for your thoughts, Andrea. I really wonder how things would have gone if I'd tried that. From a Boy #2 perspective, I'm sure it would have gone more smoothly. But based on past experiences, if I'd said that, Boy #3 would have wanted to stay home too, and then Boy #4. Which given what I had to do, really wouldn't have worked.

    I hear you -- there ARE other options out there. I just don't know how to make them work for the larger system.

  7. I'm happy they pushed me and I realized I need to push myself out of my comfort zone every once in a while. I'm an introvert, happiest when left alone...but don't want to miss out on life experiences either. You're doing what's best for him...just give him some breathing time between events so reflect inward for a while....sounds like he's an introvert too!