Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Thursday, June 16, 2011

BUT WHY????

I have HAD IT! I can't stand my six year old arguing with me about EVERYTHING! I don't understand why she can't just accept a 'NO' and say 'OK' and leave it at that or even just walk away. I just DON'T GET IT and I'm about 2 inches from going off the ledge into crazy land. I can't stand it anymore!! Who does she think she is?? WHY does she feel the need to question everything I say to her? Is it the age? Well, no, because she's done this her entire short little life. Is it me? Am I a push- over and have I let her get away with it for way too long??

I just got angry with her for asking me yet again 'why?' when I told her 'no!' to something. I got in her face and said "when are you going to just accept that I say no and not ask me why? WHEN???!!!" As soon as she left the room, I felt awful. No, the moment we were in that exchange I felt awful. But I don't know how to react in a normal way anymore. I used to be patient. I used to just ignore her arguments or give her an honest reason for my saying no. But as she got older and it occurred more often, I just kept getting angry. The truth is, I don't even know what to say to this. I don't know how to explain to her the wrongness and disrespect in her questioning me that way. I want to be that really patient mama who knows all the right things to say to guide her children's hearts and help them learn to be content with whatever. I want her to just accept things I say and not question me about them. But she doesn't. And I don't know what to say to that. I don't know because I am the same freaking way.

I don't like to just accept things. I want to know the 'why' about everything. And to an extent, it's a good thing. But when it comes to stuff like this, the authority of a parent or higher authority (i.e. God), there is no questioning. It's disrespectful. Especially if the parent tells the child to do something and instead of doing it, they just ask why they have to, or do the total opposite of what the parent says.

I think about my obedience to the Church and how along my way, I have questioned a lot of the reasons we do certain things. But it's been out of a trying-to-understand perspective, not from a defiant stance. I think it is very important to understand the reasoning behind things in order to be able to obey. But in all things, there is a time and place for obedience first and questioning later. For awhile I struggled with this when it came to procreation. But the entire time, I obeyed what the Church teaches and when I finally came to the understanding of WHY the Church teaches what she does about procreation, I rejoiced in the fact that I obeyed first and then sought the answer to 'why?'.

I think I'd be a little more calm about this whole thing if Angelina would just walk away or do what I say and then later come to me and ask me, if she must know, why I made a certain request or decision. If she's curious and wants to understand, that's one thing but total defiance of what I am saying is a completely different thing. I'm tired of it. It zaps way more energy from me to battle this sort of thing than to just figure out what the right thing for me to do in this situation is, and do it. It's like I know the answer, I just don't know how to articulate it to a stubborn 6 year old who thinks everything I say doesn't apply to her. I cringe at the idea of having to explain to her why God created sex for marriage in a way she will accept, especially in a world that teaches the exact opposite. This whole 'why she can't have anymore food after the large lunch I just served' scenario seems like such small potatoes compared to that. *shudder*

So, along the path of God's design for our relationship with our children, of teaching them to have hearts for Him and following His will for their life, what say you, all you wise mamas out there, about this situation? What do I tell my Angelina (and the others) about the proper way to react to a response or situation they don't like or don't understand, especially when it comes to my authority? What is a good way to articulate the reasoning behind them reacting in a positive way instead of negatively? I know there are tons of Bible verses about this. The commandment to honor they father and mother is a great starting point, I'm sure. But at this age, I have to explain what that means and WHY! Is 'because God says so!' a legitimate answer for a child this young?

A little help?! Thanks!

7 comments:

Corita said...

Ok, here is my take-- and believe me, Troy is there right now and I have done WORSE than get in his face about it. But calming down, reflecting and talking to his behavioral therapist, I have some thoughts on this very. thing. I also have been able to teach it to Jacob now at a later age, when he is more reasonable.

In calm times, I am trying to remind Troy that respect for your parents should dictate how you respond to them.

So, if you, child, have a question about why something is happening, then FIRST indicate that you have heard the request and are willing to comply. THEN ask about it. If the parent does not want to answer you right now, then do it first and ask about it again later. The same goes for asking for an extension of time, or offering more information about the situation that you feel is important for the parent to know. It should always be done respectfully, and you have the right to expect a respectful ear for your questions/thoughts/needs when you do it this way.

In real life he doesn't remember this every time -- or most-- but he knows we are working on it. So if he gives me the argumentative stuff in response, I just pause. Look at him, and repeat myself. If he insists on a "why?" or a "But!" then I remind him that his first response is to indicate he heard me and is willing to cooperate. We go from there.

Mary said...

I agree with Corita. I was going to say the same thing. I haven't dealt with this yet, so I can't really add anything else.

p.s. I think you meant the fourth commandment -- honor your father and your mother (Catholic numbering is a little different for some reason).

Heather Lea said...

I agree with Cori. This was a constant struggle with Will but lately I have seen a change. Here is what I have done. Usually it comes after I have asked him to do something...and the "why" particularly comes when I ask him to pick up after his younger sisters who definitely aren't at the point where they are going to listen. I say politely, "I asked you to do it bc your sisters don't understand and you are much more responsible (it took him a while to understand that word) bc you are almost 7." I also use this tactic when it just comes to him too but I think bc I give him the positive encouragement of being the oldest, he tends to WANT to do better. Now, obviously, this isn't 100%...and if he is especially defiant, I get down to his level, take him gently by the chin and say, "I am the mommy and you have to listen to mommy and daddy." If that doesn't work (which is pretty rare recently), it's off to the room for time out. But my whole point here is trying to make the age (being the oldest) a special thing to them. I hope this helps.

Kate said...

Most recently, I have been doing the following things with Adam and it really has worked with him.

1. If I ask/tell him to do something and he starts to argue with me or ask me why I say the following: "Don't ask why, say yes mom" and then if he keeps asking then I say "I have told you.....I am not going to talk about it anymore. If you do not do what I have said then you will have a consequence.

2. If it is a situation where he asks me for something and I tell him no and he keeps asking then again I say "I have told you no, I am not going to talk about it anymore."

3. If he whines, I tell him "I am not talking to you anymore while you are whining"

4. If he throws a fit I tell him "Your behavior is unacceptable, get rid of your attitude right now or you will have consequences."

5. When possible/appropriate I give him the "why" as part of what I am saying to him. For example when we are somewhere (like mom's) I say to him, Adam we are leaving in a few minutes so I need you to pick up the toys. This has worked well b/c in the past I would just say, pick up the toys Adam and he would of course ask why. It has decreased my feeling like he was always arguing with me.

Len said...

I agree with everyone so far and I especially like how Katie simplified the issue before it gets crazy!

I did want to add, however, an idea I got from an older lady a few years ago about difficult questions. She told me that when her son asked those difficult questions they are not ready to know the answers to, she would write the question down on a piece of paper and place it in a special box. The box was always in full view and reach of her son; that way if he ever thought of something while she was not around he could add to the box himself.

She said the last question she answered was around age 24. (I wish I knew what it was!) Anyway, I thought that was a thoughtful and respectful way of handling those tough questions; for example, questions about pre-marital sex.

Hope this is helpful and I am right there with you too. Aren't little girls the most fun!! :)

Pam said...

If you don't mind me throwing this idea into the ring... We've been using the "I love you too much to argue" line successfully. Of course, eventually we started to hear it used against us, but that's when we get to gently identify the difference between being the parent and being the child.

Back to the line though, I'm still in awe that it actually works. You repeat it over and over again, and it does two things... let's your child know that there won't be an argument, and it helps you remind yourself how much you love your kid! lol :D

Hi, btw! :) I hope you're doing well! I added a post on YAM about making yogurt in a crockpot, in case you're interested!

Rebecca said...

Thanks, everyone for your comments! I appreciate your insight. Great ideas.