Friday, November 12, 2010

Nature vs. Nurture

OK. I'm seeking words of wisdom from those of you with children. Grown children. Multiple children. Any children at all.
My child is a free spirit. This is not necessarily in the "peace and love" or "march to you own beat" sort of way. It's more in the urban dictionary definition: "someone who isn't weighed down by the troubles of everyday life, is always themselves regardless of the situation and lives life to the full. Not restricted by other people's opinions." It is meant to be a positive description, and I know this personality type will probably ultimately serve her well in life.
At THIS stage in her life, however, my daughter is so concerned with demanding her independence and doing things "her way" that it doesn't seem like a positive personality type at all. I will spare you the gory details, but after almost 5 years of struggle, my patience is just fried. No break is ever long enough.
Before I had a child, I think I gave nature and nurture a 50/50 split. Maybe even gave nurture a slight advantage. These days, I'm leaning more toward giving nature at least 75% or more.
My husband and I both have basic, old-fashioned behavioral ideals- you know, "honor thy mother and father", "respect your elders", etc. From day one our three family rules have been: be safe, be kind, and follow directions. And from day one, these rules have been enforced and they have been challenged. We are not talking about a phase here.
If I had a child who automatically did what they were told and respected authority, I would probably still believe in 50/50 nature nurture. But, that's not what I have. Pretty much every day is a war of wills, some with only one battle, some without respite from battle. So, I need to know, do other people face this challenge? How do you manage? How much of this did I create? How do I nurture someone with this nature? In your experience, do children grow up because of you or despite you? I know this too shall pass, but what do I do in the meantime?


Hooky~Harry said...

Oh Jennie,it's so hard to give another parent advice, as only you know your child:)
But you have to stick to your rules, and they will respect the situation (or that's what is supposed to happen :0)
We used to have a constant battle with our youngest daughter, and she is still the most 'vibrant' (shall we say ;0) and pushes the most boundaries of the three of our children.
So your daughter will probably always be like she is.
You just have to always remember, that you're her parent, and other children are her 'friends'.
As children really need the boundaries that parents set them.
Does that make sense?
You probably know all this anyway, but sometimes it just helps to hear it from someone else :0)
Hope your holiday is still going great.
Have a good weekend Jennie.
Donna x

Ribbons Undone said...

Well, I certainly agree with Harry above--you're a parent not a friend. But I have the feeling you already know this.

My friends and family members often ask me for advice regarding raising kids. Catherine was such a colicky baby, a VERY demanding toddler, and a high strung little one. Lots of tears here--from her and me. Consistency, consistency, consistency got us through it. But again, as a former teacher, you already know this too, I'm sure.

I always tried to reward the good: a little praise, a spontaneous piece of candy, or some little trinket. How is Sophie at school, when you're not around? Is she equally as challenging? Curious.

I feel I can't give sufficient advice thru my laptop. I know I've said it before, but I wish you lived right next door to me. We would crochet together. Our kids could play together. And we could share our struggles.

Four is a tough age. Really. It's like the terrible twos all over again. I read in some book that it's called the "ferocious fours." I'm going to have to give this some greater thought. Hmmm.

Ribbons Undone said...

Another thought:

I knew Catherine's limitations. For instance, I knew that if I tried to bring her out more than once or twice a day, she would melt down. She could not handle too much stimulation. Not her fault. Just her personality. When I discovered this, we ran one trip per day when she was not tired--usually early on in the morning. She thrived on routine and that's how it came to be--consistency and routine.

Are there certain times during the day that Sophie is more prone to act out? Specific activities?

Still thinking up here in NJ. Now I'm worried about you.

jessijewels said...

aww jenniegirl- i wish i knew all the answers because you know i would share everything i know with you. i'm just writing to let you know i'm here...

if you ever need a drinking partner.

hehe, maybe i'm just here to give you a little chuckle and a hug. hang in there kiddo. you're a good mommy. xo

Jennie said...

I really, really appreciate your words, Donna. "Vibrant" gave me a good chuckle!

Victoria- I had no idea Catherine had these similar issues- though I guess I don't know why I would. Sophie was a very colicky baby and a high-maintenance toddler, too. I definitely agree about the knowing their limits. I think that's the problem right now, and why it's been such a rough few days. Sophie is able to manage herself with the routine that I've set up for her at home- with outbursts and meltdowns that are fairly do-able. Here on vacation (or anywhere on vacation) is just a breeding ground for overstimulation. And short of staying home forever, I don't know how to avoid it. I have high hopes that when we get back home and into our usual groove, things will get better. Better is never great, though. But on the brink of insanity (me) is better than over the edge, right?

She does well in school so far... none of these issues, knock on wood. So, I know we have taught her well and that she loses it with us because she feels safe and knows she is loved. With each stage we have to relearn what causes the flare ups, and so it never feels like we get it down pat. As a parent do you ever? How has it been for Catherine as she has gotten older?

Jennie said...

Jessi- I love that you are there, and it means a big big bunch. xoxo

Ribbons Undone said...

Catherine has definitely lightened up over the years. She's much more of a pleasure all around. I think that comes with a bit of "training" and maturing. Time.

I didn't realize you're still on vacation. OH BOY--I NEVER went ANYWHERE with Catherine. Couldn't. I felt trapped. One errand per day was about all she could handle. Too much stimulation--some kids just can't handle it. Sophie's still 4. She's still a "baby" as far as I'm concerned. Also, she's an only child. She has no one else to play with, fight with, argue with, manipulate, etc. Just you and your husband--you two will get the brunt of it at home. I know this, beacause my sister has an only, and two of my girlfriends have only's.

What especially "hurt" Catherine was that she spoke early. Complete sentences. Very articulate. For instance at 2 years old she said things like, "Mommy, these batteries are not working so well." "Well"--not "good!" I thought that since she spoke so well, she must be smart, and if she's smart, well then she should be able to follow and understand every direction I give her. Hah!

She's nine now and a gem. She's not phased too much by the other girls at school. Doesn't get overly involved with their "games." She's her own woman, you know? Maybe this is where Sophie is headed.

Get back home. Let the dust settle. And remind her that Santa is watching! Hee hee.

Jennie said...

Victoria- I am amazed at how much Catherine and Sophie have in common. What you said about her early talking and intelligence, I have said many times myself. She is so verbal and has such an amazing vocabulary and ability to process complex information, that I have to keep myself from assuming she is as advanced emotionally. I am thrilled (for you and me) to hear that Cath has grown up to be such a lovely young lady. I will keep that in mind when all hope seems lost! Thanks so much for your time and help- I really appreciate it and you :)

E. Fernandez @ Modish Vintage said...

Oh Jennie, this is the exact same thing I am currently experiencing with my son right now. There are many times I feel like I failed miserably as a parent. But I know I shouldn’t and I didn’t because my daughter is the total opposite although she has her moments once in a great while. But my son, there are times I will just locked myself in the bathroom and cry because I don’t know what else to do or how to deal with the situation. I really believe that it’s nature as he was the more difficult child ever since he was just a tiny baby and his sister is so easy going and they’ve always been treated the same. But when he does something to challenge me and I scold him, I wonder if he feels misunderstood, because maybe in his mind he’s not doing anything wrong and wondering why he gets scolded more often than his sister, ah I don’t know... parenting is one very complicated job…It’s the toughest job I’ve ever done. I’m hoping that for both your Sofie and my son, it ‘s just a phase and they will come out of it soon. Hugs.

Jennie said...

Evelyn- thank you so much for sharing what you are going through. I am fascinated that your two have such different personalities- I KNEW it was a nature thing, lol. If you ever need to vent, I'm a convo away. Sending big, big understanding hugs your way! xoxo

Jennie said...
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