Some days, everything is a Nail.

I’ve done a lot of reading on parenting. In part, because I like to read and, in part, because I don’t really feel like I know what I’m doing, so I look for better ways of doing things.

One of the things that is talked about in parenting classes and parenting books is your toolbox. As parents, we have all the different ways of coping that we’ve heard of and read about and seen. We have different levels of skill with all of our different parenting tools, but we get to choose which one to use in each situation.

We also get to choose what goes into our toolbox. If you, for instance, choose to use timeouts, you put that in your toolbox. If you choose not to use spanking, then you’re leaving it out of your toolbox. It’s a nice metaphor.

It also leaves out something crucial. When push comes to shove and we’re stressed, or overwhelmed, or just reacting, we stop reaching into our toolbox and go straight to our emergency kit. Our emergency kit is how we were raised.

For some people, that’s fine. For others? That’s terrifying.

When you come from a background that includes shaming, yelling, neglect, or abuse, it’s a terrifying prospect to find yourself in your emergency kit. It’s those times as a parent that I find myself regretting the way that I reacted and find myself having to apologize and repair with my daughter.

The things in my emergency kit aren’t the ones that I want to use with my daughter. That’s part of why I read so much and obsess so much about how I’m parenting.  I have a lousy emergency kit. So, I need a well developed and well practiced tool set.

I’m learning. Compassion is a tool. Clear expectations are a tool. Understanding development is a tool. Consistency is a tool. Time out is a tool. Time in is a tool. Natural consequences are a tool. Using my words are tools. Helping her identify emotions are tools. Remembering to breathe is a tool. Remembering that uncertainty is normal is a tool. Playing together is a tool. Practicing everything is a tool.

There are tools that I choose not to use, also. Shaming. Spanking. Anger. Withholding affection. Yelling. Manipulating.  Those are still tools. They are things that you can use to change the way your child behaves.

Many of that second list are the things that I find in my emergency kit. Especially yelling. There is a lot of yelling in my emergency kit.  It’s part of why I pack my tool kit with quiet words. Please. Thank you. I hear you saying… I know it’s hard…

I think that the worse our emergency kit is the more important it is to have a huge tool kit and to be used to using all the tools in it. So, how about it? What’s in your toolbox? What’s in your emergency kit?


8 thoughts on “Some days, everything is a Nail.

  1. I feel like my toolkit is always changing, and I don’t think thats a good thing.

    My husband and I do believe in spanking. We don’t use objects and we don’t just start wailing on them, there is a conversation first so they understand why they are being disciplined. And it occurs when there have been clear expectations that were rebelliously or lazily not met.

    We do time outs, when we’ve tried to correct behavior and each how to appropriately express an emotion but it’s just not working, or when parent and child need a bit of a break from each other to lower the intensity of a situation.

    We train the kids in what we expect of them and why.

    I would definately say yelling and anger are in my emergency kit. I don’t always see yelling as such a problem because my mom was a yeller and I don’t feel like it affected me emotionally at all, thats just how she was! I tend to yell out of lazyness to get off my butt and parent sometimes, I guess, or because I don’t want to spank them for something small even though it was done deliberately.

    Sounds like you have a pretty great toolbox going on. Looks like I need to expand mine a little more.

    • So, I spent a while debating whether, or not, to get into the reasons I have for not spanking and for using time out very sparingly. I think that I will, because it’s my blog and if people don’t want to hear it they can click away, but I think it’s a little wordy for a reply, so look for it in a post sometime next week.
      My reasons are part emotional/personal and part logical/scientific. I think they’re good ones.

      • People seem to have a lot of good reasons for not spanking. I’ve heard some compelling ones, certainly, and I have no problem with parents who are able to raise great kids without spanking them. Whatever works to raise good children. 🙂

        My reasons for spanking are personal, biblical, and I also think logical. I’m happy with my choice, for sure.

      • I should also add I’m looking forward to reading that post about why you made the parenting choices you have. You obviously try your hardest to be the best mom you can be and that’s all anyone can ask. 🙂

  2. You might have already seen these but maybe not.

    Wanted to share a couple of my favorite mommy sites with you… CrappyPictures is especially hilarious. If you want to laugh for a long time I suggest you go to the archives and start at the beginning… my husband kicked me out of the room the other night because I was laughing SO HARD it was driving him crazy, lol. All those parenting moments that make me want to pull my hair out… well this lady makes them funny. 🙂

  3. I love your tool kit idea, Lady, and I find, as a Newlywed, that I have to develop the same kinds of tools in communicating well with my husband. My emergency kit contains things like yelling, verbal volley (one-upsmanship), and physical violence. I have to resist the urge to sock my husband in the stomach when I get angry, just like I did when I was 6 and 7 with my brothers. I have to say that as a child that was spanked, and even smacked in the mouth, I learned to hit when I was frustrated with my brothers for not doing what I told them to do, which was things Mom had already told them to do. I learned to hit. And I don’t want that for my relationship with my husband or my children.

    More than anyone else, your quiet simple logic teaches me how to love my husband in ways he needs to be loved. A harsh word can break bone, and a moment of thoughtless banter has led to reoccuring nightmares for my husband that I will leave him. He comes from a background of neglect and abandonment. My emergency kit does not mesh well with his emergency kit.

    I am looking forward to more posts on this topic. I know I will have a lot to overcome to strengthen my tool kit.

  4. Pingback: Paul Zak, Oxytocin, and Parenting | Unhappy Mommy

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