We have to reframe this.

We are having a problem because EC is pushing for more individual space and boundaries. It isn’t a problem because she wants it. It’s a problem because FMC is uhhhh not interested in allowing their sister any space at all.

We have been talking about this in the house for a while. We keep coming back to “We are not willing to escalate punishments to the point that they are more effective and the ways we have tried to punish for this interruption are failing entirely.”

We need to find a way to incentivize instead of punishing away this behavior. I believe in behavior extinguishment… but it’s complicated. Punishing often makes a behavior more entrenched and resistant. (For one thing our “punishments” are pansy ass and we know it. We are not here to hurt or shame our kids.) We need to find a way to make giving someone else space something that gives FMC more of what they want in life. We have to find a way to frame this/phrase this as “Here let us show you how you will get what you want if you go along with this boundary.”

I know that some people don’t like how manipulative I train my children to be. I respect that opinion. But I think my behavior as a human being improved when I learned how to think about my behavior in terms of “Will this help me meet my goals or will this create problems for me?”

I don’t believe in training children to follow rules because they are rules and you must follow rules. That’s bullshit. Some rules need to be broken. Some rules need to change. Some rules just don’t fucking apply to the situation we are in.

Why does this rule exist?

I’m not saying I have to fully agree with every rule in order to follow them… but I am more likely to follow a rule if I understand why the rule exists and I am at least in agreement that following it is in line with who I want to be in the world.

How do we teach FMC that giving their sister space is going to create the relationship they want in the future?

Punishing is not going to teach this.

Heh. Punishing me is a great way to ensure that I’m going to do what you don’t like….. where you can’t see me.

Enlightened self interest babe, how can we teach this to you.

For EC I have been chanting since they were 2 years old, “If you want to have a good relationship with your sibling when you are an adult you need to think about whether or not this action is likely to make your sibling want to know you.” The same chant really hasn’t worked with FMC. When they look up at their sister they see an unfailing flow of love and support and I think they genuinely don’t believe that their sister would stop providing it. They identify less with the fact that I walked away from my family and rejected everyone. EC knows that I refuse to know my big sister and that haunts her. FMC… doesn’t care?

FMC doesn’t believe they have to earn love in the same way. Uhm… I guess that’s good? It’s mixed. Noah and EC and I all act like we have to do a shit ton of work to earn being loved in the long term. It’s questionably healthy. Near as I can tell FMC is the only person in this house who believes in unconditional love. They think we will love them and take care of them and be with them no matter how big of an asshole they are.

I mean… that’s… good…

I’M SO CONFUSED.

I feel this terrible existential keening because I think I’m too demanding and boring to deserve friends and I feel like I should stop bothering people because I don’t have enough to offer…

And I live with this fucking kid who believes that them existing is their fucking gift to this world and now what does the world have to offer them.

It’s… weird.

Really weird.

Like… WHO THE FUCK MADE YOU weird.

It’s funny how they feel like me and not like me and like my chance to rewrite my history and like an alien and…

I love them so much. I feel bad when I target a specific behavior and assert my will as if I actually know things and I’m right about my judgments. What fucking hubris. Who in the fuck am I to decide that they are not good enough?

I’m their fucking mother and if I say they need to god damn learn how to let their sister have boundaries I’m fucking right and you will motherfucking do as I say.

Only I say it to them with less swearing.

One of the few things my mama said right to me was, “It’s not what you say it’s how you say it.” My mama, for all the bad things I can and do say about her… she only kind of sort of wanted to silence me. She was afraid of me speaking truths that would make her already shitty life harder… but otherwise she encouraged me to speak up. When teachers would complain I was too mouthy my mama would say that they must not be a very good teacher then because I do just fine in a classroom with a good teacher.

My sweet little baby. I don’t want to punish you for crossing boundaries. That makes me feel like shit. It makes you feel like shit. You then proceed to cross the next boundary like clockwork and we start the whole shitty cycle over again.

What can I do to help you believe that following these boundaries is the thing that you want to do?

Because I want to manipulate the shit out of you. I have no pride. I will not dissemble. My sweet love I want to manipulate you until you believe that it is justĀ absolutely the right thing to give people space when they ask.

How can I do this?

This is my next hobby horse to ride. Because if we don’t figure this shit out… I’m afraid you and your sister are going to get into a big bloody fist fight. And frankly… y’all don’t need that.

Even if you might kinda deserve having someone punch you for being so disrespectful of their boundaries. I won’t do it or condone it… but I’m capable of seeing why someone else might think it was the best reaction to your behavior.

God you are so much like me.

I’m sorry kid.

I wish I could have given you easier genetics. Sigh.

How can we teach you without you having to get as many black eyes as I did? Or maybe you just need to get them and I can’t protect you from that. I’ve always needed to learn from experience too.

I hope this hubris I have in believing I know best for you doesn’t fuck up our relationship forever. I try hard to limit my control areas… I know I don’t know best inĀ all areas… just a few.

I love you. I’m trying. I know I’m failing to meet your needs in that way that all mothers fail their children. I hope you can forgive me.

3 thoughts on “We have to reframe this.

  1. RoseRed

    Yeah, there’s a dark manipulation that I find very disagreeable and perhaps even disrespectful of other people’s boundaries, but I absolutely believe in positive parenting, enlightened self-interest and incentivizing appropriate and adaptive behavior. To Not do those things to to neglect parental duties.

  2. RoseRed

    I think I’m the Anikka to your Pippi Longstocking. Pippi is very black and white in her semantics and calls anything other than honesty, lies. Including storytelling. Anikka considers lies to be deliberate dishonesty and Bad until she realizes that Pippi is talking about tall tales that she doesn’t expect anyone to believe, particularly because she calls them Lies.

    Manipulating objects: fine. Manipulating people? A bit triggering for me, until I began to gain a clearer understanding of how you use the word. You don’t seem to mean using manipulation to bypass consent, for example.

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