Monday, February 19, 2007

(Hard Advice) Hike to the Hollywood Sign

Here I escape my three-kid circus for a brisk hike to the famous Hollywood sign, but find myself in hot water with my hike-mate cousin, who started what was supposed to be a relaxing Mt. Hollywood trek off on shaky footing by giving me some sudden, unexpected parenting advice.

For the record, said cousin has NO children. Not a one! And he’s fully aware I’m blogging about this. He even taped this video, where I jokingly threaten to throw him over the fence and onto the Hollywood Sign following his critique.

It was grueling for me to hear his fault-finding but accurate observations, the sum of what I already know to be true (and deeply loathe in my parent self) -- I yell and scream at my kids all day long with few results and often fail to follow through with heaps of threatened discipline.

Basically, I suck. Am I a bad mother?

At least that's how I felt during the first part of our “talk” (unplanned intervention?).

How do you rise above your fired up mother emotions and not take such intimate criticism personally?

The way in which you parent your children -- Is there a subject that is closer to the heart?

How well do you receive criticism re: your (flawed or not) parenting style, constructive or not?

Does it matter to you if the person critiquing your parenting style has children or not? Haven’t you heard: “It’s always the ones who have none who know the most.” Hells yeah.

In all, I know my cousin’s intentions were pure. Nothing less. He cares for my children. He loves my family. In the end, I understand where he was going and why, even if it was hell to hear. Change is hard but we our family really could use some, right away. If my cousin’s hard talk was a catalyst for that change, then I’m glad we “went there.”

But the whole thing still felt a bit like I was an alcoholic and this was my official intervention. No hard feelings, though, cousin. I’m not mad. More like sad.

Are you able to see past your personal, emotional reactions to outsiders’ parenting advice, evaluate their advice and eventually apply your new, hopefully helpful but hard-to-hear knowledge?

How have you reacted to having your shameful, embarrassing parenting realities/bad habits exposed like a raw nerve and then pushed up close to your nose for you to see in plain view?

*Please don't watch this with the kids because I swear like a trucker in it. Not one of my best vids, but hey, it's a holiday Monday and I'm moving like a snail.


At 5:03 AM, Blogger bubandpie said...

This is why I never talk to my cousins - they're closely related enough that they can get away with saying stuff like that, but you still have to talk to them at family reunions. Really, though - ouch.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's always the ones who don't have children who know the most until they do have children!!! I heard so many times from childless friends how they would not let their children drag out every toy and make messes. Let me tell you, it all changes when they have children, and then they come back and apologize! So, I don't take or ask for any help from childless people, because unless you have children, it's really hard to know how you would be.

Oh and for the record, we do follow through at our house.

At 8:17 AM, Blogger Em said...

Sure, parenting advice can come from a non-parent. Just like I'm going taking my health problems to a person who never went to med school. I try to listen openly when another parent (whom I trust and admire) shares parenting advice. But from someone who had never walked the walk, it is a test of my patience.

Fun video, though!

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous crunchycarpets said...

It all depends doesn't it?
I mean if this is someone preaching the 'when I am a parent' type of lecture then naff off.

But if this is a friend, a person who knows you, knows how you tick, knows the signs when things are bugging you and so on....well then, it hurts but if it really hurts then sadly it is usually true.

My mom slips in the TRUE observations and boy it sucks and hurts..but I know she is right.

The question is what do we we as you said, chuck em over the fence. Or do we admit to our failings and imperfections and mother suckage and what..ask for help? Do we say we know that already and just haven't fixed it!

Sheesh......I yell and snark too....I know it doesn't work or help I work hard enough at changing it? er noooo not yet.


At 1:59 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

wow...well you seem to have a very close relationship with this cousin..such so that you didn't toss him over the fence! It sounds like he knows you well and had good intentions. That doesn't make it any less hard though.

Shaking up the mommy game can be good for everyone sometimes. Did he have any good idea's or did he just tell you that you suck?

I know when I get all down on the mama stuff I am not good at I try to keep it in perspective to all the things I do really well by my kids. It makes it easier to tackle the 'everest's' I want to ignore.
Good luck.

At 6:57 PM, Blogger BlogWhore said...

exactly my point.

you're a good momma. i know this to be true.

At 12:06 AM, Anonymous karenkt said...

wow... just today my #1 said I sacred him b/c I lost it and yelled... pretty loud... I feel like crap. so amazing too that I had a sort of conflict w/ my cousin lately too. i read your profile and we have a lot in common, if only in ways that are sort of connected with stuff we both are interested. I've hiked up there, too. I'm on leave now, but I teach high school English and coach a marathon running team. sometimes on saturdays we go to griffith park. good think you were most likely too exhausted to throw him off... LOL!

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