Sunday, April 01, 2012
Disengaging Again and Again
No, in answer to a remark I hear so often, my kids do not help me in the gardens. They've never ever weeded, but they have peripherally aided by mowing the grass, so I can work in the gardens, or dragging me a wheelbarrow load of wood chips. Maybe one load a week.
Yesterday Allen unloaded the bricks from the back of my truck, bringing 'em all up to the Upper Gardens where I made a new permaculture bed, something I'd told myself I already had enough of, but once I get to planting, it seems each year as if I quickly run out of space.
CW and Martin took turns mowing, and Scotty helped Grandma with some heavy outdoor lifting chores, while one spectacularly lazy one sat in front of a video game proud as a peacock of his innate laziness. I don't even fight it anymore. 12 years of being shocked by the enormity of a problem has taught me it's best to leave him be, if I try and enforce my dumb work ethic upon him, there'll be Hell to pay.
Me disengaging means I don't have to call the law when the opponent rages in response to my ridiculously stupid requests such as, "Pick up your dirty socks you threw across the family room.". If I don't push the issue, he/others like him, don't rage.
I clearly have higher expectations, I'd told the others who might balk or complain, but those with severe temper dysregulation issues? Are you serious?
That said, this is not a kid I'm afraid of, he's not vicious like some others who've hurt so many of us, he's just flat-out plug lazy and pretty much unteachable. I say this after trying so hard with his birth siblings and making less than zero progress. Many law enforcement officers have tried as well, one stubborn grown kid has sat in jail for quite some time due to his inability to not buck the authorities. He's been arrested a half a dozen times at least.
My reasonable explanations, my life predictions/descriptions such as, "Without an education, Mickey D's won't even hire you," only make them want to not get educated so they won't have to work anywhere.
Huh? That's not what I said at all. Dr. Mandy has helped me understand their perceptions of what I say, which is usually totally different than my intentions.
It's more than a little frustrating.
People who tend to be caretakers believe that if only they are loving enough, giving enough, kind enough, caring enough, open enough, and put themselves aside enough, they can have control over getting another person to change - a totally false belief.
As long as you believe that there is some way you can have control over another person's intent, you will likely stay engaged in situations that are not at all in your highest good.
What the heck is a mother to do?
The art of disengaging looks like this:
If you have attempted to learn with this person and they are not open to learning, or you know from past experience that this person will not open, you say to yourself, "I have no control over this person. There is nothing I can say or do to change this person."
You walk away, singing your "happy song" in your mind to keep from going into any blame or judgment. You offer a prayer, asking God to help this person come back into his or her "right mind."
This works y'all, it really does. It works for the one who dearly, deeply desires to help someone change a negative, self-destructive behavior, a behavior that the parent is positive will not help them succeed in life. That's why we want the kid to change, for them, not for us. But they don't wanna change. All we can change is us.
What you do not do is walk away in anger, blame or judgment, or ruminate about what you should say or what the other person is saying or doing. You do whatever you need to do to keep your heart open so that when the other person opens again, you have no residual resentment and are fully ready to re-engage.
It's hard to not be angry or disappointed, fretting over the child's future life. It's tough, this I know.
But I've learned that traditional parenting methods just don't work in a traumatized child's life. It's a hard pill to swallow, it's not giving up, it's just disengaging.
With kids like this, anything else justifies their inner response, which is to rage destructively.
I've sloooooooowly caught on to this method.
Chuy'd spent the night at the home of his buddy whose mother had recently been his ER nurse during the viral meningitis episode. I figure he's safe there, right?
Lily decided she wanted to plant stuff, and she did so, sowing seeds of cucumbers, cantaloupes and snap beans straight into the ground while I weeded and devised the new garden bed plan, continuing to plug away at the 200 tomato seedlings I'd raised from scratch, transplanted, and am now trying to get them all planted into the soil outside.
Watching the radar screen hopefully, storms bore down upon us, only to fizzle away leaving me with no rain at all. I work and I think, trying my level best to help kids succeed in spite of themselves. I'd told Lily, a smart bonded, nurtured from birth darling daughter, "If I can, at least ,teach kids to read, to write, to swim and to know how to plant their own food, then I've covered some important bases." Lily, who already can do all that, just laughed and kept planting, laying claim to an entire nearby bed of strawberries that's already forming fruit.