Friday, November 12, 2010

Trust - Part II by Robin Gorman Newman

I am disgusted yet again.

If you read my blog, I recently wrote about my son Seth unplugging the cords in my office to my computer, modem, etc. and how we paid to have a locksmith come and install a deadbolt on my door.  We gave Seth a talking to, and at the suggestion of a parent trainer we consulted, we suggested he try to ask himself  "would mommy and daddy be happy if I do this?" before he act impulsively and engage in a behavior where the resounding answer is "NO" we would not be happy.

All this said, I awoke this morning to find that the office key I typically leave in a particular place in my bedroom was gone.  I immediately asked Seth if he saw it, and it said with complete resolution "No."  I told him if I find out he took the key and didn't tell me, that I'll take away every toy he has....and I poured through my drawers in search of the spare key that he doesn't know I have. 

He then proceeded to admit he took it.....locked it in his toy safe in his room.....but when he went to open the safe, he didn't know where the key was.  It was no longer in there. 

As my blood pressure rose and rose, so did my temper and voice.  I'm not one to yell at him.  I always try to speak firmly vs. loudly.  But, this time I came close to yelling, and I think he was stunned.  He wound up, as is turned out, dropping the key on the floor in his room, and he found it.

But, this doesn't excuse his behavior.  He said he was sorry and tried to cuddle up to me as he cried.  But, it doesn't make up for it.  And, then unexpectedly, I found myself crying.  And, that surprised him the most....and me.  What was this about?   I told him I don't what to do anymore.  That I love him, but I don't trust him.  And, I asked him, what can he do so I can trust him?  What would it take?  He just shook his head...didn't know how to respond.  I grew speechless.

I walked him out to the bus stop, as usual, but I stood there feeling sterile.  I love this child, but I couldn't look at him.  I can't just wipe out the feeling of huge anger and betrayal one moment and moments later be all warm 'n fuzzy.  That's what Seth would have me do.  He was able to transition, as if saying I'm sorry means we can no move on.

I called my husband at work screaming into the phone that I can't take it anymore.  We do so much for this child, and is that the issue?  Is he just so spoiled that nothing matters?  He can't respect someone else's property.

I asked Seth why he took the key, and he said he wanted to get into my office to get tape, but I don't believe him.  I said, "do I have to lock up everything I own now?  What's next?" I asked.  No response.

I don't need to start my day with this kind of needless stress. It doesn't set a good tone for the day....though I guess it can only get better (hopefully).

What kind of punishment is appropriate for this conniving key stealing act?  I don't know how to respond at this point.  I suggested my husband ask his two good friends in his office who have kids, to see if they have any suggestions.

Should I grab some garbage bags and start scooping up his toys?  He could come home to a toy-less living room..  Would he care?  Take away the Wii?  Take away tv priveledges?  No dessert for a week?  These ideas all feel temporary.  He'll move on and find something else that engages him.  For now, I took away his toy safe.

We're talking about instilling a mindset in a 7 boy, and this clearly doesn't come easy.  A mindset that is an important one, and one that he should grasp for the rest of his life.

So, what's a parent to do?

The way I feel right now...I want to run away from home.  I'm tired of being his mother.  It doesn't change my adoration for him, but I'm truly at a loss as to how to get through to him.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.   Thanks for allowing me to vent!!!

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sabina said...

Please read Alyson Shaffer's book, "Honey, I Wrecked the Kids". It will change your life (and Seth's) if you can pull off the hard work required (on your part) to understand what your son is up to.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Multiple thoughts for you:

Me --
I wonder if you could ask Seth what he really wants or is trying to tell you. That he is "stealing the keys" to the office makes me wonder about competition he might feel about attention he gets and attention your work gets.

For me, punishment about the stealing would just reinforce his frustration. I wonder if during a bedtime tuck in you could ask him why he wanted to take the key and just see what he says.

Maybe this could be a moment to talk about how using words when one is frustrated, sad, wanting more attention could help him figure out what he is feeling. And you could explain why you felt so angry and upset.

You have need for trust and he has broken that trust. The real consequence of that can't be measured in punishment. Really he needs to show you again that he can be trusted. How could he do that? That would be a conversation between you both about how that would work.

My husband --
The forbidden fruit is always the sweetest. Our approach has been to defuse curiosity in our daughter by supervising her process of checking "everything" out, but always she has to ask first. Being a "yes" with parent with supervision instead of a no parent.

My husband just reminded me that for our daughter we have things in the office that she can use: recycled printer paper, tape, stapler, pencil sharpener so that she can feel like she is has access. Always she has to ask first. Sometimes she will play near us with these items and sometimes she takes that stuff to her desk.

Right now I have a new office space in my living room. I have to figure out what can be touched. I am hoping my ipad can be the item. We'll see.

Just some thoughts. I feel for you.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Laura Houston said...

Robin..I went through this all of the time with my foster kids. Maureen has a good suggestion...One of the things I would do is have them go through the drawers of my room with me in the room...so they could see everything and where it was kept (OK...I did hide some stuff in the washing machine while we did this.)

Then we did it with the kitchen.

Every parent is different, and I believe strongly in consequences for behaviors, and stealing is a bad bheavior. So I got one of those plug in locks for the TV...and they could not watch TV or play games when they had a bad behavior. I also kept the lock on until they had done their multiplication tables and homework.

It was very effective. They understood the consequences. We talked about it regularly: their frustration. My frustration. And it only took a month to fall into a trusting relationship on both parts.

But, man, like you...I would get so PISSED! And upset. It's tough being a mom.

Taking away the TV is not a bad way to punish. The kids have to do something else....like read...or clean...or do something social. I found the less TV my boys had the better they behaved and the closer we were. But that's just my experience. Every mom is different.

Also, a flaw in my process is that TV almost becomes a reward. I hate that. But it works.

5:09 AM  

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