Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dynamics of 2 Sets of Children (Raising Differences)

We have 6 (almost 7) children and (whether or not you agree this is a good thing or bad- to categorize them) 2 sets of age ranges. We have the Olders and the Youngers. The olders (at the moment- this is ever changing as they age) consists of obviously the 3 "teens" (P is on that verge) and the youngers are those under 10.
I've made mistakes in parenting the olders (I freely admit to this), ones we are trying to avoid with the youngers. And in those mistakes we allowed for a lot of free thought in their opinions on our parenting skills, or disrespectful and argumentative, behaviors. The olders feel (not all do this always or even once in a while but all have) they can question us, as parents and what we do while parenting the youngers. For example on a regular basis lately, T has told me to spank O and has even gone as far as to try and "punish" O himself- when T thinks I haven't done a good enough job.
What they just don't get is what I may have done with them has plainly NOT worked, and been a bad parenting choice. I hope when the youngers are older to have different experience (yes I know I will) and feel/get more respect from them.
I know in some ways my olders respect us as parents but very often (more often than not) the way they speak to us or not follow directions is the brunt of our frustrations as parents.
I was weak in my parenting skills when the olders were young. Not confident in what I was doing, trying to follow all the information parents are given on how to raise their children (much of which is contradictory) and never consistent (this is natural when you're trying to do it ALL). We're trying now to unlearn behaviors in them AND US. But it's very difficult to teach respect to teenagers when the is no base to begin with.
With the youngers I am more confident in knowing what does work and not work. But they watch the olders and take their cues from them. This makes doing things differently exceptionally hard, I naturally want to go back to how I used to do things- the ways I am trying to let go of; the ways that have been proven not to work. I have to step back and feel myself explaining to the youngers that they shouldn't be watching the olders, in regards to how to treat each other and respecting adults.
I've not learned it all and struggle daily. We try to open conversations with the olders on how their behaviors are inappropriate, how they are interfering with our parenting the youngers and plain and simply that we don't need or want their help raising their siblings. Their time will come to be parents with their own. They may not think its fair that the others are being disciplined differently but really we are different parents who know differently now and the youngers are different children than the olders. We have to treat each child as a individual, and meet each of their needs.
I hope the pattern of behavior (for us all) can be changed. It's taking a lot of work and patience and understanding. I hope we'll get there sooner than later.

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