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PostPosted: Sun Oct 26, 2014 1:18 am 
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I know many of you are not only great partners but also amazing mothers. This SA partner thing changes us in more than one way. Two areas that have been greatly affected in me are: even more awareness of my responsability as a mother figure and understanding the danger of lying for the development of children.

I have two stepkids that I raise: boy of 9, girl of 6. I've been with them only for the last 2 years. They've been neglected before and they were clearly underdeveloped. Together we changed many of the wrongs and they've made extraordinary progress. I know lying is a natural coping mechanism for hiding mistakes or getting your way when there are boundaries in place. I believe every child lies, so mine should not be any different. They do trust me to a certain degree and as the bond got stronger I feel in a much better position to address the issue of lying (to my face, hiding, ommitting, distorting the truth). I do talk to them a lot about lies ... I've found a way of explaining to them that lies poison your brain and if you keep lying there will be a moment when you cannot stop on your own. We do talk a lot about being healthy and I try to expand the notion towards emotional health, not only physical. Still, of course, they lie.

For example, last night they were watching a kiddies' movie and I thought H was keeping an eye on them. After some time which seemed too long for a movie I got anxious as no sound was coming from anywhere ... like they are done and getting ready for bed. So, I went into the living room. They were both wide awake and the TV off. The boy had switched it off when he heard me coming in. Of course I asked what they've been watching (he said Cars ....which is pretty innocent) and he started crying when I said I do not believe it as he turned it off, therefore he knew he was doing something wrong. He did not explain why he turned it off, just kept crying ... I did think that probably it was Cars and he turned it off because this was the second movie they were watching as they had permission only for one (it pretty was late, way past their bedtime but it was a saturday...) ... I do not buy drama shows (had enough with H) so I've left him there to think about telling me the truth. I intend to talk to him again this morning. Now, the problem that I usually get myself into in this kind of situations is ... if he doesn't want to tell me the truth ... how far can I go with the consequences? Of course the consequence for lying is to detach ... but being his mother figure ... isn't that traumatic for him? Isn't that feeling rejected or unloved because of how he acts/feels? I did make it clear to him every time that lying is a choice and it happenes because he is scared. However, if he sustains that choice of continuing in his lie ... how must I react? If all discussions fail, is it ok to put down my weapons and say, well, "it is your life, your choice ... my duty as a parent is to advice you to make the right decision, which I did. There is nothing more I can do for you. Now you must do for yourself." This is usually what I say when I'm out of ideas ... putting responsability on his shoulders. But, if out of fear or stubborness ... even anger (this is why I usually choose to talk to him later after the event ...when he cooled off) ... he doesn't tell the truth ... what must I do? Act like nothing happened? Keep myself at a distance? What consequences do I inflict for this kind of boundary crossing ... which I made it clear over and over again ... it's my ultimate boundary ... Should I be colder with him? How long? Must I stop doing things for him?

So, I really struggle with this one ... I try to do them good and I am very wary about how they can easily be traumatised by what I say or what I do ... in many ways they've already been ... I do not want to add on ... I want to correct the foundation and build something straight on top of that. I think deep down I'm scared I might be too hard on them about this ... as I've been so traumatised by my H's lying and manipulation and I would do anything to prevent them from becoming like that. However, I want them to learn to be truthful and brave, no matter the consequences, to be strong enough to admit their mistakes and the fact that they acted out of fear ... also, I want them to understand that lying is being disrespectful and hurting others, destroying bonds between people. In these discussions I do try to explain the mechanism of emotions in decision making ... even though sometimes when I lose it ... I am guilty of putting labels on him ... like ... I do not like liars ... which I admit I need to control ... I do not want him to think there is something wrong with him or see this lying as part of him ... I do explain it's a choice ... and it's important to learn how to make the right choices ...

Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. How do you great ladies out there do it? And does it work? I know it's a process ... fortunately ... meaning that I can still change the way I deal with this ... for their own sake ...

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 27, 2014 10:42 am 
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http://www.ahaparenting.com/ask-the-doctor-1/teenager-lies-to-mom-constantly?A=SearchResult&SearchID=8452366&ObjectID=974649&ObjectType=35

I have found lots of really helpful tips in relationship building and parenting through this site. This post specifically deals with lying. I have found, personally, that I feel my boundary on honesty is best defended when I simply state my feelings. "I don't want to fight over something I have no power to know for sure, but you should know that I feel like you are not being honest with me and that makes it hard for me to trust you." I think you are in the right vein when you acknowledge that you can't force them to tell the truth, but that it makes your family stronger when they choose well.

May you have all the patience and love you need to parent well, dispite the challenges!
thebagholder


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 12:18 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 22, 2013 12:47 pm
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Thebagholder,

Thank you so much for your reply. I've read some of the articles and I have already a vision about where we need to go from here. I've tried to talk to H but he doesn't see it quite the same. It is such a sad situation when the kids are victims of their parents' inabilities (I have my own, unfortunately). We don't seem to have the same priorities or understand what kids really need. I would go more for showing them the love, care and appreciation they've been deprived of (and it's no easy task for either of us for different reasons)... he is a strong believer in the power of the belt ... "kids need this once in a while" ... or at least the threat of it ... so ... there is so much I can do as unfortunately I do not have the same rights when it comes to them and ultimately they will be stuck with him ... Even that possibility, me leaving at a future time is meant to cause disaster for them. The little one was asking the other day if I won't be their mommy anymore some day ... I just said they need to learn things and be strong because one day they will be on their own as we grow old and die. What was I supposed to say? I cannot just lie to them and sustain a false feeling of security that would leave them further damaged ... I really hope that being there for them now and openly talking about life and feelings will help them cope in a healthy way with whatever comes ... I believe it's better to explain to them things when they are young and they cannot perceive the tragedy of it all and try to stimulate the right attitude ... as in ... we are all going to die one day so it is very important how we live our lives to achieve happiness and to be proud of our achievements. When I came here the boy was 7 and he was utterly shocked to hear me say that people die ... it was a taboo for him ...

But I digress ... what I take of it is that I should put punishments aside (the punishment system was supposed to replace the belt but H does not subscribe to this principle entirely) and I would make it a point to talk to them even more. One of the consequences of their wrongdoing is having a discussion about the incident but I'm afraid I use it mostly for the big things and we should talk about the little ones as well. Also here I need to be aware about the difference between lecturing and talking. With the little things we generally lecture them while they look guilty and upset ... not really trying to ask them why they do certain things and help them see the selfishness in that behaviour. It's really not the same ... lecturing never taught anyone anything...

Thank you again, it was a big help. I will do my best for them.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:47 am 
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Dear Ursula,

You are in a difficult position because you are building a relationship of trust and dependability with these children while knowing that your relationship with their father is in such an uncertain place. I highly commend you for everything you are doing.

First of all I want to support you in the way you are responding to the issue. I have raised several children (my youngest is 17, the oldest is nearly 30) and they are all extraordinarily well balanced individuals with strong moral compasses and very honest people. It is amazing to me that they grew up this way given that the father figure in their life was so dishonest and immoral.

I did not have an inkling about their father until around 5 years ago, so I attribute their development to what I tried to model for them. I used similar techniques to the ones you mention. I was always honest myself, always tried to be gentle, not harsh and just tried to explain the implications of dishonesty whenever I caught them in a dishonest act without over-reacting or being overly punitive (I'm not sure that I was always 100% successful but that was my aim). I don't believe in "belting children" and being harsh just encourages dishonesty. I would never, ever emotionally withdraw from a child.

Having said that, I still believe in setting firm boundaries with "natural consequences" where possible. This may mean having a conversation with the child where it is explained that, as they were not honest about the T.V. before bed, the privilege to watch may be withdrawn for a short period and we would try again in a few days, or something appropriate like that. Just as you have done, I would try to engage the child in a general conversation about the pros and cons of honesty and try to help them to see (age appropriately) the relative long term advantages of being an honest person.

One thing I said to my children as they got older (and all have remembered and thanked me for this as adults) was the nugget "You can lie to anyone but whatever you do, never lie to yourself. Therein lies the path to losing yourself and your grip on reality." I think it's ironic that this was always self-evident to me but my ex-husband never understood it.

The other thing that is important is to be age appropriate when responding to "lying". Young children under the age of six, or even up to eight, have a plastic relationship to truth as adults understand it. They fantasise and rarely have either the moral framework or the grasp of adult reality that permits them to have a handle on the implications or even, the concept of lying. It is much better to approach a young child non-punitively and treat it as an educative exercise.

In children older than about eight, lying will either be rare as in an experiment in "getting away with it" or expediency. Being caught out in these circumstances can result in good opportunities to talk about the more complex consequences and can lead to quite interesting conversations that lead to insight and opportunities to promote maturity and build intimacy and bonding. I endorse Bagholder's sentiments
Quote:
I think you are in the right vein when you acknowledge that you can't force them to tell the truth, but that it makes your family stronger when they choose well.

Children ten or older who habitually lie are probably responding to unmet psychological needs that need to be investigated, especially if it is coupled with other acts of dishonesty like stealing or physical acting out, or if it appears that the child doesn't seem to know the difference between truth and lie; a distinction that should be pretty well-developed in a pre-teen. What doesn't work is a harsh approach that leads the child to retreat into even more extreme lying and duplicity in order to avoid consequences.

It can be very hard for us, triggering even, for those who have suffered so badly with spouses who have wreaked so much havoc with their pathological lying, not to over-react when we see our precious (step)children indulging in similar behaviour. But it is a very normal stage in some children's development and not necessarily a sign of any malignant pathology. Unless it is in an older child, it merely needs attention and gentle, consistent guidance. If the behaviour persists into an older age group and is coupled with other anti-social behaviour as described above, then it is a sign that the child is under some psychological distress and this would need further investigation.

You sound like you are nurturing them very well under difficult conditions. I'm sure they are benefitting from your presence in their lives. It sounds to me that you have good instincts and you should trust them.

Your friend, Andromache


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:47 pm 
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Dear Andromache,

Thank you so much. It is so very helpful. This is the first time when I openly talk to someone (apart from H) about the challenges of parenting. I’ve literally become a mom overnight … not really wanting to be one to some other woman’s children, hoping I will get my own in due time. These two were “part and parcel” as my H pointed out and I’ve perceived them like this for quite some time … However, now that I am in a good position to push them aside and deny responsibility towards them I realize that I actually care deeply about them, way beyond any affiliation to my H. I believe they are as close as I will ever get to experiencing motherhood but even apart from that, I still care because I see so much potential that could easily get wasted and I just can’t sit around doing nothing, I would just be an accomplice to some silent crime against humanity. The boy made extraordinary progress. He is extremely flexible somehow even with ingrained patterns. We had a very rough time with him arguing while doing homework, not really accepting my advice, contesting pretty much anything I tried to show him. I told him I accept full responsibility if what I told him is wrong so he felt safe to go with my interpretation a few times. When he experienced success and acknowledgement he came to tell me I was right and his trust in me grew. Also, we talked many times about his constant arguing and how it’s not constructive and how he doesn’t let anyone teach him anything because he does not trust them (his big line … how do you know???) … then one day I gave this behavior as an example in some other discussion and he told me … “I don’t do that anymore”. It was true, he hadn’t been doing that in quite some time but I was so surprised that he kept track of it himself, which proves he did it on purpose, he exercised self-awareness and self-control. Ever since that time whenever I plead with him about changing things about his behavior, I remind him how he can change if he put his mind to it, how it’s really up to him, he has the power, I can just support him by reminding him of his own resolution. And how his success makes me so very proud of him as there is nothing harder than self-control. I tried to bring this perspective even when it comes to lying … but only recently as before I would get so triggered and I would overreact …
andromache wrote:
I would never, ever emotionally withdraw from a child.

I also feel it in my guts. However, how do I show them they’ve hurt me? We had some incident when I first came here … they were very abusive towards me, no boundaries in place, they were harassing me all the time, even in the toilet. The boy (7 at that time) told me he will ask his friends to beat me up and his dad is going to throw me out. I was so overwhelmed at that moment that I l locked myself in the toilet and cried my heart out thinking … is this what I’ve left my life for? (little did I know at that time that this is nothing compared with what I will get from their dad) … The next day when again I refused to do something he wanted, he said “Do you want me to make you cry again?” Ever since that moment 95% of my heart became stone. I think even now, after 2 years and after building bonds and trust I am still utterly scared of allowing myself to show any kind of vulnerability towards him especially. How do I let them know they’ve hurt me and they have the power to hurt others without giving them ideas about trying to inflict even more pain or manipulate me? It is ultimately about power. I know it’s not wise to behave like they can’t get to me ever because that is not the reality. They do have a lot of power over those that care for them and they need to learn how to use it wisely, for the good, not for the bad.
Quote:
Having said that, I still believe in setting firm boundaries with "natural consequences" where possible. This may mean having a conversation with the child where it is explained that, as they were not honest about the T.V. before bed, the privilege to watch may be withdrawn for a short period and we would try again in a few days, or something appropriate like that. Just as you have done, I would try to engage the child in a general conversation about the pros and cons of honesty and try to help them to see (age appropriately) the relative long term advantages of being an honest person.

Thank you for this. This is the difference between punishment and learning/cooperation. I knew somehow but never really put it in a broader context. I did present the punishment as a form of reminding them … as a form of learning … but I see how I need to expand on that … I will make a point of never throwing consequences/punishments when I’m angry … never single sided … I will always ask them what kind of consequence we should settle on that would teach them further or that would make them exercise the very skill that they are lacking. This is a very important realization for me.
Quote:
I endorse Bagholder's sentiments
Quote:
I think you are in the right vein when you acknowledge that you can't force them to tell the truth, but that it makes your family stronger when they choose well.

This line also stuck in my mind. I am thinking about linking expressing love to telling the truth. I will find a way of explaining that telling the truth equals loving the person even more, it is a way of expressing love ... Therefore by telling the truth we love each other. I believe this is key in making them understand anything about telling the truth and the consequences of not being honest. They will get it eventually one day, but I think it's a very very good perspective on telling the truth which actually explains a lot about the pain of being lied to.
Quote:
Children ten or older who habitually lie are probably responding to unmet psychological needs that need to be investigated, especially if it is coupled with other acts of dishonesty like stealing or physical acting out, or if it appears that the child doesn't seem to know the difference between truth and lie; a distinction that should be pretty well-developed in a pre-teen. What doesn't work is a harsh approach that leads the child to retreat into even more extreme lying and duplicity in order to avoid consequences.

He doesn’t really exhibit any of these … to my knowledge … but I’ve been shocked to find out one day he tried to make two other kids fight by telling some lies to turn them against each other. He said he wanted to see them fight. It blew my mind and I panicked. I don’t know what else he is doing but generally he is an attention seeker, always butting in, always trying to steal attention. With the other kids he used to be so shy that we couldn’t convince him to go and play while we were in the park. He doesn’t really know how to be friendly, always trying to brag about who he is, what he knows or what he has … In my opinion all this is the direct result of being neglected but when I try to talk to H there is a wall of pride or guilt and he doesn’t really see it that way (as not relating the underlying theme of violence seeking with using the belt, etc… boys will be boys … we used to do the same, not big deal … At that my line is … and look how you turned out … do you want the same for him? … But by that time we are already at each other’s throats as he feels that speaking the truth actually is putting him down … it’s always a plot against him or it’s always about him…). So, he has problems with very low self-esteem and craving attention but hopefully he started doing well in school and I hope he will come out of it. I will try to stimulate his trust in himself and point out his successes while gently working together to straighten the wrongs.

Thank you again so very much. Thought provoking. I learnt some very important things and I will be more careful with the way I set the boundaries and present my perspective to them.

Your friendship truly honours me.
Your friend, Ursula

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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