When Work is More Appealing than Staying Home


I have a confession: I’m nervous about being home with my kids just two days a week this summer. I’ve been working full-time for most of the years the kids have been with us, but now I’m working three days a week. BC stayed home with me two days this week and it went fine. BE doesn’t get out of school until July and it’s having them both at home at the same time that I’m worried about. One on one the kids are fine, but as soon as they get together, it’s non-stop fighting. This drives me crazy.

Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control author Heather Forbes answered another reader with a similar concern in her monthly e-newsletter. The question was:

I’m having a difficult time keeping myself focused on parenting in the Beyond Consequences way. I read several of your books and agree with them, but there are days that I feel like it is all for nothing. We have one good day where I think, ‘Great, this is it.’ Then the next three days we all are disregulated and I feel discouraged. I keep thinking that I’d rather go back to my full-time job, working 60 hours a week with deadlines due yesterday! Do you have any words of wisdom?”

I’m ashamed to admit that on the weekends and the rare weekdays I’m home with both kids, I feel the same way. Sometimes I feel that I’d rather be at work.

In Heather’s response, she addresses the importance of the reader’s status as a stay-at-home parent. She does this by explaining the powerful effect that parents can have on their children.

“Research is showing that simple changes in a child’s environment can literally change a child’s physiology. We are seeing that by placing children with trauma histories in calmer environments with more love-based parenting techniques where a deep level of emotional safety is created, stress hormones within these children’s body systems are decreasing. This means that parents have the ability to literally change the chemical make-up of their children.”

Heather then encourages the reader to change how she thinks about each day.

“Instead of waking up in the morning thinking, ‘I’ve got to get up, fix my children breakfast, pack their lunches, somehow get them out to school on time through the tantrums and meltdowns, and then prepare myself for the dreaded homework after school!’ I encourage you to say to yourself, ‘Today is the day that I will press on to help change my child’s brain. Today is the day that I have the ability to create safety for my child through predictability, understanding, and loving support in order to help my child heal at a physiological and emotional level.'”

I certainly prefer this approach to my own, which is usually very pessimistic. I think the challenge will be thinking this way more consistently and not reverting back to old patterns.

Chores: what a difference a year makes


When BE was still in kindergarten, we began assigning her chores. It was a total disaster. It completely overwhelmed her and she often had meltdowns. We would get very frustrated and the whole situation would escalate. The worst chore for her was vacuuming under the dinner table.

We hadn’t yet been introduced to BCLC, so we saw her behavior as defiant, not fearful. At the end of that summer, BE broke her wrist and was in a cast for several months. Chores were suspended, and were finally reinstated a few weeks ago (about a year later).

My laziness in restarting the chores turned out to be a great idea. As BCLC points out, many traumatized children are emotionally younger than their chronological age. At age 5, it’s likely that BE was emotionally much younger, and our chores were completely unreasonable for her capabilities. Now that BE is a little bit older, both emotionally¬†and chronologically, chores are much easier. We haven’t had one fight or tantrum over chores the last few weeks. For me, the lesson is – be sensitive to your child’s emotional age.

I’m mad at you, mama


At our house, BE used to rule when it came to tantrums, but recently BC ¬†has usurped her. Usually after a tantrum is over, we talk about how hitting, yelling, etc is not ok. I tell him that it’s ok to be mad at me and to tell me so calmly.

Recenty, we were at BE’s swim school and he got mad at me about something. So he sat down on the floor and kept repeating, “I’m mad at you, mama!” One of the other moms overheard and said, “Well, at least he knows his feelings!” It’s good to know he’s listening, even if it’s only sometimes.