During the school holidays, I am with both my children at the same time more than usual. On school days, my older child, Phoebie, is away for about five hours every day. School holidays tend to be more challenging as a result. This is especially true now that my younger child, Breyen, is two and is more expressive. Fights and quarrels happen more often. When children misbehave, I have to scold or punish them so that they learn.
Scolding the older one who is almost six years old, takes a longer timer now because I want her to reflect and be able to tell me why she is getting scolded. I do not want to punish her or scold her without her understanding why some of her behaviour made me angry. The process involves tears and whining, which sometimes makes me wonder if I am bullying her emotionally.
Just the other day, I had to explain to Phoebie what a brat is. I told her that a brat is rude and always wants her ways and no one likes a brat because she is rude. I asked her if she wanted to be a brat who does not listen and with tears in her eyes, she said no.
I told her that Ben and I are strict because we want her to learn and we only want the best things for her. We do not want her to grow up to be someone who doesn’t do the right things at the right time, and we most certainly do not want her to be a brat.
During the long process of talking things out with her, I suddenly felt very emotionally drained and wondered if I should go back to working full time. Many times when I have to do such talks with Phoebie, I wonder if I am doing the right thing or handling her the right way. She gets upset and I get upset. She starts to cry and I feel like I am being a bully.
At times like this, I can’t help but wonder who it pains more, Phoebie or me, when we have to sit down and explain why we punish or scold her. No parent wants to see their child cry, but I am certainly not going to give way to my children just because they whine or cry. Yet, at the same time, trying to parent the children as best as I can takes a very emotional toll on me.
Sometimes I feel so mad that I wish I could just smack my children to correct their behaviour. But smacking them without explaining to them what they did wrong does not help them learn. Yet, the process of explanation can sometimes turn my anger into a rush of guilt.
The surge of guilt often takes over when the children stand very still, trying to listen to my rant about their behaviour, while crying and saying they are so sorry and they will listen from then on. Expectantly, this “vicious” cycle repeats itself because, well, children are children and when they get carried away with what they are doing, they throw caution in the wind and forget what got them into trouble the last time.
I told Phoebie that maybe I should ask someone else to look after her while I work full time. I told her that many mums have to go out and work to help earn more money for the family, and that Breyen and her are very blessed that their Papa’s pay is able to support us while I stay at home to care for them. But if I am not able to help her learn to behave well, then perhaps she should tell me who she prefers and I will go and find a job.
Hearing all this made Phoebie cry even more and that made me feel even worse. But what am I to do? Punishing her and then trying to teach and explain to her about her behaviour has drained me, emotionally and mentally. It is really probably more painful for me than for her.
But in that moment when she knows that I might give up being a stay home mum, she expresses that she wants no one else but me.
Looks like it’s time for another good round of me-time. I need to recharge and organise my thoughts, and reflect on how I can best care for my children.