(This speaks more to how I process news than the actual conference.)
In the past the conferences with X's daycare have all been super positive. He wasn't getting in trouble and was showing empathy and developing strategies for conflict. He scored the highest scores on every category and his teachers loved him, his classmates loved him, everybody wanted to be his friend.
Kindergarten has presented challenges as all transitions do and we had been struggling with certain behaviors since school started. S and I have been struggling with bringing empathy into our parenting because it is so damn hard and yelling seems like a better idea when in the heat of things. (it doesn't work, we know, clearly, because shit is still hitting the fan).
Here's what I heard:
- Your kid has no structure
- Stop dressing your kid in the morning, make him do it himself (he totally gets himself ready, this one really pissed me off)
- You are permissive/doormat of a parent
- You yell at him too much (he has no problem telling the teacher that I yell)
- Your kid is acting out because you are so fucked up at home
- This is a big problem
Here's what was actually said (according to S):
- He's really popular and personable, everyone likes him
- We're working on managing space and being calm
- If you could structure his morning more by setting a list of tasks for him to accomplish before leaving the house, that will help him understand structure in the classroom and make him feel empowered.
- He's a good kid and likes learning
The worst part about all of this is that I fucking lost it Saturday morning. I was so angry that the conference didn't go the way I expected it to that I took it out on the entire family. It was a descent that I haven't experienced in quite some time and I had to work through a whole bunch of shit (including resenting having kids) before I was able to be there for X. It was bad bad BAD. By the afternoon, things were better but I wish I could control MYSELF in these situations (hey, where does he get it from???). Why the horrible reaction? During the conference I heard that because I'm trying to do things differently than my mother, I'm screwing up, so naturally, a strict dictatorship is the best way to go. Clearly, it's not, and I have all the damage of someone who was raised in such a situation, down to barely being able to be around my mom and dad. The only reason why we still have contact is because of the grandkids, and what I'm finding is that when I give an inch, she tries to take a mile. She's trying to connect (according to my therapist), but does a piss poor job at it, so much so that if I'm not careful, and ready, I get mightily triggered. Case in point, when I talked about a recent training class I went to in which I discovered that the project teams I'm helping to lead are essentially broken, her response was, "Why are they broken, do they have morons running them or something?". The moron she's referring to is me. Of course, she didn't know that, this is a small taste of the crap that comes out of her mouth and how she speaks before thinking.
But I'm not supposed to be talking about how much my mom fucks with my psyche, I'm supposed to be talking about how fucking hard it is to parent with empathy, although it turns out that it actually works when you use it. So, I pay a therapist a whole bunch of money to help me figure out how to parent because according to her neither I nor S had good role models in parenting (his parents aren't nearly as bad, they're more on the benign neglect side of things). So, we both have to find tools to help us, and I think I've found a couple in addition to therapy. A new book club that I joined, but have yet to make it to a meeting read the book No Drama Discipline. I started reading it thinking I would make it to the meeting, alas, it was not to be. I'm glad I started it as it's been a good resource that at first glance sounds a lot like Love and Logic, but with more practical examples and dives into the science of the brain, satisfying my need for data. In grabbing the link for this post, I discovered the workbook and ordered it. I think we need it. I hope it helps