Mama S here. Our last post talked quite a bit about how strict we are, we hear it all the time, I just heard a GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) say that when Little Lady was with us she told them that we are strict (heaven forbid we have a rule about cell phones being out of the bedroom when you sleep!), and we discuss it ourselves. I figured we should share what our strict looks like and the positive impact it has had in the past month.
We enforce natural consequences. The consequence to the action *almost* always ties directly to the action. Both positive and negative. Here are a few that we have put into place lately:
- The gate was left open. For the 8th time by P’s friends. We had previously tried reminders, catching them as they leave, reminding them when they got back, no change.
- Consequence- friends can’t come into the yard for the remainder of the week. Yes, she could go to their house. Yes, she could go play at the park with them. Her friends just couldn’t come into our yard. This was an impactful consequence because she loves to play in our yard with her friends.
- P is late getting home. ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it is 3 minutes, sometimes it is 20 minutes, one day it was 45 minutes.
- Consequence- for every minute she is late getting home is as many minutes as she has to go to bed early. She doesn’t have to go to sleep, but she does have to stay in bed. No radio. She already has an earlier bed time than her friends, so this one is brutal in her mind. She has an early bed time because if she goes to bed at 8, we still have to wake her up at 7. After the initial stomping around about bed time, she is asleep pretty quickly!
- When we have a sitter, if P listens to the sitter and follows her routine as she should, she gets a prize the next morning.
- Consequence- prize of some sort. Tasty snack in lunch, small present, etc. Not the most natural of consequence but it works.
We have these sorts of consequences and we talk about behaviors that are not OK rather than yelling. Have there been moments when I’ve had to walk away before the chat? Yes. I’m not ashamed of that. I’m proud of it. Those moments show P that you can get upset in a situation and still respect the other people you are interacting with. Every day, every minute, every interaction is a teaching moment. She watches us from how we talk to each other, how we brush our teeth, how we interact with friends, family, strangers, etc. It is the most exhausting thing ever to analyze all of our actions, but it matters. You see, P’s love language is Quality Time. She feels love when we spend time with her, talk with her, show her boundaries and stick with them. This helps her feel safe. We have not had a week where we haven’t had a consequence of some sort and that’s OK. We are all learning here.
That brings us to last night. We were sitting on the couch, P was practicing typing and I was catching up on emails. All of a sudden I hear the meekest “mom”. I look up and she has this timid look on her face and is waiting to hear how I respond. To be honest, I think she was holding her breath. I smiled at her (as I do whenever she initiates conversation) and asked her what’s up. She exhaled loudly, smiled, and asked for help with the home row. This made my heart swell with love, and break at the same time.
You see, this tells me that P is bonded to me. She sees me as one of her moms. Someone that keeps her safe, loves her, and helps her to be the best her that she can be. This also reminds me that there is another mom out there that she loves and wants to live with. Eventually the courts will decide which house P will live in and either way she wins and loses.
I explain it this way. Imagine if you were taken to live in Alabama. You know no one, nothing about your new area of living and what life is going to look like. You slowly start to open up and connect with the family you live with. You put down roots, build relationships, get settled into your new life. Then, someone decides if you stay there or go back to where you originally came from, your family, friends. OR someone decides that you will stay with your new life and won’t be able to go back to your old friends and family. Either way, you win and lose.
Unless there is a way to maintain connections when you are in either home. That’s what we are trying to do. Co-parenting with bio parents is a topic that we will discuss in detail later. No matter where P ends up living, we are here to support her AND her mom. We respect her role and do not seek to erase it. This is a hard thing for some people to understand. Again, we will post more about co-parenting later.
In any case, our home is settling in just in time to possibly be shaken up again. We will keep you posted on the possible changes in the number of people in our home. Until then, thank you for reading!