Parenting through drama(s)


My kids are so different in temperament, and the ways they unravel are, too. On a good day, it’s more like “how they respond to stress or frustration,” but on a not so great day, it’s “how they unravel.”

They are both at transitional ages, so even the younger one that we have perhaps taken for granted to be always sunshiney and bright has brought in a fair amount of sulking and drama. Fun times.

When they both brought it on full force the other night, it was rough. Thank goodness it wasn’t simultaneous, but it was back to back, and I’m not talking about squabbling. I’m talking all-out, sustained drama.

Just after getting through it with one, the other one was ready to go, and I was pretty exhausted from the first. I needed my time to decompress, be quiet, be alone, process. But no go.

When they were in bed and I finally had a minute to myself, it occured to me that I had just spent a few hours working HARD emotionally. Because the emotional management demanded of parenting one child’s kickback is different from that demanded from the other. One is more like me, the other is not.

Seems obvious, and I haven’t googled it, but someone should write a dissertation on it: Emotional Expenditures Parenting Children Like Us vs The Ones Not Like Us.

The former is a lot of self-management and reality checks for not responding to the triggers of your own sh*t. It’s about keeping yourself in check (not easy) and in my case, constantly trying to soften to diffuse the fire and the challenge of two people trying to be the alpha over just about anything. “What s/he needs is love. Be love. Envelope her/him in love,” is the reminder that plays through my mind, but I only hear it if there is a moment to breathe and let it in. And that’s a big IF.       

The latter, in my family, is about patience and finesse in trying to get someone to express themselves truthfully when they just want to make up excuses or dish out the “whatevers” or I don’t knows.” I don’t mince words and it drives me around the bend when people want to say something but let themselves run away from it.

I’ll be honest: I’ve pretty much given up on my husband’s pattern of shutting down, but my kids? There I can make a shift. I can try to teach. They’re just kids after all and they’re looking to me for guidance. The “whatever” sometimes triggers me and what comes out is something like “Don’t talk to me that way,” but most of the time I can see it for what it is - her/his need to be seen and heard.

So what’s the formula for going from one kid to the other when you are emotionally spent and need your own time to process and breathe? I don’t have the answers, but I do know that a regular meditation practice, even 5 minutes, just before the kids come home from school makes a REAL impact in how the afternoon goes in my house.

Other ideas? Comment below or send an email! I’d love to hear from you. We can start a list of topics for that Mommy and Me for tweens/teens group if it ever gets going :)