From Reactive to Reflective

I just finished up an exercise I need lots of practice with. I’m slowing grasping at the concept of reflective parenting.

Tonight, at the end of particularly difficult swim lesson, I blew a fuse at the little man regarding a disrespectful moment. I immediately flew into reactive mommy mode! Oops. I’m sure it looked ridiculous (probably even scary) I swung forward to grab him, and he careened backward like a whipped puppy dog. If anyone was watching they probably assume I beat him regularly. Of course, I reacted to this display with even more anger and stormed away from him.

“I’m sorry mom, I’m sorry, wait!!!” he yelled after me. As he raced ahead of me towards the door, I chucked his shoes across the floor and kept walking. I was angry that we had made that scene. I was angry that he had gotten the best of me. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t control my own six year old.

I sent him to bed without any preliminary TV time (a very effective consequence in this household). But as I sat in silence, replaying the scene. I couldn’t help but think that I had been the one at fault. I gave in to the power struggle, I made things worse. I failed to preserve the relationship I want to cultivate with him. I want him to feel SAFE, CARED FOR, and COMFORTABLE with me. Tonight, in that angry moment, I may have compromised those very feelings.

After a few brief moments of reflection I realized I could not let Alex go to bed this way. I feared that if I let it go, and pretended like it was nothing, my son might hang on to these negative feelings, inadvertently forming a rift in our fabric as a family. Maybe i’m blowing this out of proportion a bit…I don’t know. I had to act though, so I sneaked back into his room, and had a quick talk with him before he dozed away.

I asked him for forgiveness for my childish behavior. I told him I was very angry and I reacted the wrong way. I told him I loved him with all my heart, and that I know he didn’t mean to make me angry. I gave him a smooch, told him I loved him, and as I walked through the dark room to the door there were tears in my eyes…and his little voice  whispered “see you in the morning mom!” I smiled and choked out a weak: “sleep well, I love you” and shut the door behind me.

Sigh…hopefully all is well in the Phoenix home again.

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