Saturday, March 27, 2021

Good Job!

Back in the early 2000s, there was a 'woke' movement among affluent, mostly Caucasian parents to stop praising young children with the words 'good boy' or 'good girl' because it was thought children would internalise the idea that they were intrinsically 'good' or conversely 'bad', that they were their behaviour. Instead parents were encouraged to praise the behaviour with phrases such as. 'I really like how you chose the colours for you painting', or 'It is lovely to see how gentle you are with your baby brother'. These practices of praise were considered to be more helpful as they addressed discrete behaviours.

It sounds great, but of course, being tired and busy parents soon turned to the more generalised 'Good job!' And why not, it was still achieving the goal of praising the actions of the chosen actions of the child, rather than risking the child internalising the idea of being intrinsically 'good', or conversely 'bad'.

Well, except for two things. 'Good Job' is as non-specific as 'Good boy' or 'Good girl'. The child doesn't know exactly what they've done well. For example a child is asked to help their parent rake autumn leaves for which the child receives a rousing 'Good Job!' What was it the child did well, was it listening the parent? Maybe it was how they held the rake? Maybe it was because they didn't smack the dog with the rake? How is the child supposed to know which of their behaviours is the 'good' one, how are they supposed to know what to do next time to receive the enthusiastic 'Good Job!'

Then there is the other thing, the ubiquitous 'Good Job' has become white noise. It is said so often that children may not even be hearing it, no matter how excitedly it is said. Young children apparently don't hear instructions telling them not to do something. If you tell a child not to run, they hear the verb first, so they hear 'run'. It has something to do with children learning nouns first, verbs second, and then all the little parts of sentences like prepositions, articles etc.  So, to get a child to stop running away, instead of saying, 'Don't run away', where the child is more likely to hear, 'Run away', consider saying, 'Stay with me'. Apparently, they'll register the word 'stay'. Um, where was I? Oh yeah, so it's important to consider what children hear, and if they are told 'Good job' 50 times a day referring to who knows what, it will fade into the back, pushed aside by far more interesting words, like verbs.

Now I hear it all the time, it's on tv, the lady down the street tells her dog, 'Good job' for walking nicely on a lead - actually it's probably quite suitable for dogs, as they're less likely to put much meaning into, 'I really appreciate how you are walking nicely next to me'.

Bosses could learn something from this as well. Instead of just saying to the employee who hands in a report, 'Good Job', or 'Thanks', or 'Well done', why not saying, 'I appreciate the time you've committed to doing this' or 'Thanks for getting this done so quickly'. 

Hey, it even works with partners. 'Thanks for picking up the kids, I wasn't expecting to get stuck in traffic that long', or 'I love that you've paid attention to the sort of washing powder I prefer'. Yeah, yeah, seems is bit much, but how are people supposed to know what they've done well if what they do well isn't specifically acknowledged?

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Parenting the adult child: when is enough enough?

Parenting is hard. At least that's been my experience. There are plenty of joys, absolutely, every day. Let's be honest though, there are also plenty of dark moments - and regrets. At the moment I'm struggling with knowing where to set the boundaries with adult off-spring. At what point do you conclude that an adult child (and I use both terms advisedly) is just taking the piss? Is it three months, six months, two years. Is it when the adult off-spring decides to give up a job because it is a long travel and although they are earning a decent wage, they are not prepared to share a house with anyone. Anyone except you that is. Is it when they won't take low paying jobs - not accepting the reality that not finishing high school will affect your job prospects - because they don't pay enough? Is it when they say they'll go back to do their year 12 equivalent when they can enter as mature age, but then 9 months after their birthday they're saying they can't study online.

Or is it when they're rude and pick arguments, and tell you all the ways you could be a better parent or even person over and over again?

Where do you say enough is enough? When do you push against the doubt and feeling of guilt for not 'supporting' your adult off-spring and pushing them out of the nest. If my partner behaved like this, I'd leave. I wouldn't stand for the abuse. At what point do you do that to your child?

You know, I once shared my frustration with this situation on my Facebook page. A page with 70 people I felt I knew well. More than half of those were family members. The rest were friends spanning the past 35 years of my life. I had a few supportive comments both on the post and privately. Then out of the blue I had a parent I had considered a friend comment that I was a horrible parent. This parent attempted to link my adult children into the post, not realising I don't have my as friends on social media. The parent said they would take my (other child, not the one I was venting about) into their home if they could. I honestly thought that parent was joking. Then the parent's partner joined in the attack telling me I should be ashamed of myself talking about my child like that in public.

I was taken aback. My husband, who was also friends with this couple called them to find out what was going on. One parent answered, he asked to speak to the other parent and was told the other parent was busy and would call him back - of course, we've never heard from either of them since.

I think the part that shocked me the most was the numerous conversations we'd had about their difficult experiences with their children and the importance of parents supporting each other. We had always been supportive of them, but when I expressed frustration and difficulty parenting, they pounced like lions on an antilope.

Here we are over a year later, I've wanted talk about this since it happened, but have sat on it while I considered what I wanted to focus on.

I want to focus on how difficult it is to be a frustrated, self-doubting, exasperated parent. In parent communities this topic arises from time to time, and people agree that judgement should be suspended because no one really knows what's going on in a home (I am not referring to physical, mental, verbal, or psychologic abuse). The thing is, when it comes to the crunch, people want to protect themselves from being suspected of less than perfect parenting by not speaking out for the child, even if the child is an adult. Parents should never feel taken advantage of or abused by their children, because they are their children, and love for your child should be unconditional even unto death (I am not being flippant).

The judging of other parents is reflexive. Often the judge isn't self-aware, they just don't want to seem complicit in the act of a parent feeling anything other than love for their child.

Relationships are hard. Family relationships can be especially hard because 'blood is thicker than water', but when is enough enough? Is there a point where parents can say, 'I am not prepared to continue to be treated this way, even by my own adult child.' Where is that point? Is it a matter of time past, or severity? Is it okay if the child is being passive aggressive and not physically aggressive? Does verbal or psychological abuse from an adult child count as a good enough reason to stand your ground?

When is it okay for a parent to tell their child it's time to go?

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Let me take you on a small tour of our house...

We had a house inspection on Friday, and then the cleaners came on Saturday - I know! We had to do all the cleaning for the inspection ourselves, truly ironic when we have a fortnightly cleaning service. I thought I'd link back to a previous house tour to show how things have changed since we moved here in October 2018. It turns out I didn't do a tour back then. I can't believe it, I always do a tour - I love working on the decor of our home. In the past year, since COVID lockdown, I've felt especially lethargic and unable to keep up with projects. Usually, I think of something I want to do and then start on it immediately and with gusto. In the past year I've really struggled with this. I was going to do a really big declutter a last summer and that didn't happen, and then throughout the year I kept planning to do a comprehensive declutter over several weekends. We don't have a lot of stuff we don't use consistently, so decluttering isn't a massive project, as such. All the same, the house has been pretty bad in recent months, back enough that when I had my appendicitis attack, I refused Dave's suggestion to have a home visit from a doctor — which actually turned out to be a good call in the end.

So, after the inspection and the cleaners, I thought it might be a good idea to capture the house at its more or less best. Let's start at the front door.

The 3D illusion rug was a fun buy. It works better from the entry, looking into the house though. You'll see a few plants around the house. Don't be fooled, I have a decades long history of killing plants. Thank goodness keeping a plant alive isn't a prerequisite for having kids, is all I can say...

Once in the house, people enter the lounge room to their left. When we buy our own house, I'm going to get electrics placed under the floor, the kind you find in offices. This house has a generous number of outlets because the owner is an electrician, that was one of the things that made this house so amazing when we got it. The truth is though, that in this day and age, even with Wifi, plugs and extension cables are still necessary for charging things. The living room in this house is huge compare to our last place.

The living from a different angle. The grey wingback and ottoman in the foreground are a recent addition and they do add a bit of crowding to the space, but they're so comfortable and Dave stole my other wingback after telling me it was too uncomfortable. That man drives me nuts sometimes. I'll bring your attention to my very own Ikea hack. I've looked around of the net and not been able to find this hack anywhere, so maybe I actually invented it, which would be strange because it's so simple. See the three Lack tables? Look at the bottom of the legs and you'll see castors. When I bought the table and asked for the location of the castors, the staff member told me the castor aren't part of the table, maybe he hadn't heard about Ikea hacking? Anyway, these tables are so convenient. They can easily be moved around for whatever purpose is needed at the time, so when we got the chair and ottoman, I simply moved one of the table to a side table position. They're great when you have an oversized Lab with a propeller tail, too. They've saved us several times from coffee cup accidents.

From the living room, we walk into the kitchen. When we first moved here, we had four wood stools to go with that table, but they had no cushioning and sharp edges. Luckily, my parents got new chairs for their kitchen table, so we were able to inherit these. The candles on the table are a recent strategy of mine to stop the menfolk from dumping shopping bags on the table and just leaving the bags and receipts there after putting the groceries away. I've been using the kitchen table from time to time for Zoom meetings. It's very handy.

Next we move from the kitchen to the dining room. When we first moved in here, the big white wall there was filled with photos and paintings I had inherited from mum when she and my step-dad decided to become grey nomads. Now that they've settled back into a house, I returned the pictures to them for their own place. As it turns out, that was the safest option because we've recently had pictures falling off the wall. Those 3M sticky hook things are great but they don't seem to stand up to long term heat and humidity. The dining chairs are new and actually the same as the dining chair mum got for their kitchen table. I've changed a lot of our furniture to white because it is brighter and doesn't take up as much space visually as darker furniture does. I wanted to replace the table, but Dave loves the sturdy utilitarian look of it. I supposed he should have some say in the aesthetic of his home...

The dining room from a different angle. The one heirloom I didn't hand back to my parents was my great grandmother's horse blanket. I absolutely adore this. When she sewed the piece — in long-stitch, which I love — the colours were more vivid. In fact, there is green in this piece that can't be seen from the front. This is mostly because everyone in the family used to smoke and that coated the front of the embroidery. If you look at the back side of the blanket, you can actually see the original colours of the threads. Ari has found two mistakes in the sewing so far, he loves studying the piece. I've told him not to tell me where they are, because then that's all I'll see, and I'll obsess about it. In the background of the dining room, you can see out back court yard with the Cape Cod chair Luey and I constructed and Ari and I sanded back and painted a couple of years later — white of course and inspired by the iconic photo of Reddington reclining in a white Cape Cod in one of the promo pictures for The Blacklist.

And from yet another angle to show the other court area — which is actually a paved walkway with plant beds all the way around to the front of the house. The house is very secluded. From the street it doesn't look like much, which is probably why we were the only people to arrive at the first — and only — inspection. There is a two metre high fence around the house (with one of the house wall creating the fourth side of the proper next to the driveway). There is an iron gate the size of a regular door that leads into a covered front porch where we have a garden bench. It's just lovely and inside the house, it's like a TARDIS, much bigger than you'd expect with two floor, four bedroom. Three of the bedrooms are massive, the fourth is an average single bed size.

Since working from home because of COVID, I've had to invest in a larger desk to accommodate all the tech I use. It's white of course, and I just had to have a white office chair to go with it. As a rule, I don't allow tech in the bedroom — not even mobiles charging overnight — but for now this will have to do. We're hoping Erik will find a place in a share house soon. Then I'll put Ari in the bedroom Erik is currently using and put my office in Ari's room. Dave can't use the room because it's upstairs and his knees mean he avoids going up there as much as possible.

I thought I'd show you the embarrassing amount of yarn I've bought recently. I'm going to have to use it up. Before buying more. The printer is also stowed in a corner. This is killing the restful bedroom aesthetic for me. I'm itching to set up a proper office elsewhere.

I added the vanity lights to the ensuite the other day. There are metres of mirrors in that room, and two different kinds of overhead lighting, but the lighting isn't strong enough, or even enough for a blind girls to do make up. I love these lights because the wires between the bulbs can be wound up inside the collars of the individual lights by twisting them, so the ugly wires are minimised.

This loom is the reason I've bought all the yarn. This is most recent  creative outlet. It's lots of fun and more challenging than you might think. I'm still learning how to use its and I've done several small projects, all table runner/scarf type of pieces.

This table runner is one of the earlier pieces I did and the edges are  somewhat uneven. That isn't unusual though, and some weavers actually like the look. I'm trying to work towards even edges myself, but I'm not going to beat myself up over small inconsistencies.

This one is slightly later and more even, I like the colours. The yarn was non-stretchy and silky. This is support to be difficult to weave, but I actually really liked it because the threads stayed where you wanted them to stay and didn't pull in the rails of the runner.

There you go, the tour is done. I haven't taken you up to the boys' rooms and upstairs bathroom because they're not little kids anymore and don't want to share their private spaces, even when they are unusually clean and tidy.

Good Job!