3 Buttons Your Child Will Push

For such small beings, children are incredibly adept at pushing their parents’ buttons.  Many of us come to adoptive parenting with extra buttons exposed, practically begging small and grimy fingers to give them a fresh press. Or two or three.

Why do children push buttons? Because they feel powerless against giants. And when children can’t get what they want through non-manipulative means, they will resort to whatever tools they have available.

Enter our buttons. Here are three I’ve observed in myself and in talking with other adoptive parents:

parenting buttons your child will push

The “Real” Button.

This button becomes obvious to your child around age 7 and gets triggered  in parents by the likes of:

These exclamations are usually said when a child is angry or frustrated, when reason is out the window. And when these words are received, your reason goes out the window. Your child senses that these sentiments are inflammatory, and she hopes to escalate a situation and gain power.

So what should you do when your child plays the “real” card? Want to know the secret response that will reduce the odds that your “real” button keeps getting pushed?

You do nothing to your child. You work on yourself. You deactivate this button through your own reasoning.

Thinking it through: What does it mean to be a ”real mom” anyway? Are you fake? Did you really get up all those nights? Change all those diapers? Arrange all those play dates? Then you are real. You did real things. You were there, you have always been there. Nothing fake about you. You are legit. This button clearly can be neutralized in your own mind. Just because you’re not the only doesn’t mean you’re not real.

The Wondering Button.

This one is more of a trigger — a button your child doesn’t intend to push but may impact you just the same.

When you notice your child is wondering about his “what ifs,” his roads not taken, it can hurt. You may feel as if he thinks you’re not doing a good job, that you’re not enough, that you’ve failed to establish your legitimacy. Sometimes your child will wonder about his birth parents privately and, if you’re lucky, he may sometimes allow you into his innermost thoughts and wonder aloud with you. He may wonder who his first parents are or what it would be like to live with them. If there is a lack of information available, the wondering may turn to fantasy. Who can compare with fantasy? Give the information you have, age appropriately, to help ground the wondering.

If you have a child who is prone to wondering, such wondering will happen whether you are privy to it or not. Again, neutralize this button using your own reason so that you can be there for your child as he wonders, supporting him and giving space to integrate his two identities — that of biology and that of biography.

Thinking it through: Your child wondering about his genetic roots doesn’t take away anything from you. We fully expect that a parent can love more than one child. Can you also embrace the notion that your child may have feelings for more than one set of parents? Can you understand that such wondering about his biological parents do not cancel out his love and devotion to you? In fact, such thoughts probably have nothing at all to do with you.

Adoptive parenting at its best is about addition, not subtraction.

The Running Away Button.

This button is not unique to adoptive families, but it can sting when there is another parent (or two) “out there” who also has a claim on your child. After all, your child may actually have another parent-type to run away to! My daughter, then 9, once set out with her pink hat, trailing her pink suitcase stuffed with her pink bear, to somehow plead her case with Crystal, her birth mom, who would surely allow her to watch The Wizards of Waverly Place before doing homework. (Wrong!).

Thinking it through: Again, we remove the button’s charge within us by realizing that our child is feeling stuck and has no other options at her disposal. If we remember to breathe and also remind our child to breathe, we are in position to re-engage our reasoning faculties and make space for other, more appropriate responses.

Redeeming Qualities of Having Your Buttons Pushed

While maddening, having your buttons pushed by pint-sized tyrants isn’t completely without merit. If you’ve spent any time at all in this space, you know that two of my most frequent topics are (1) adoptive parenting, and (2) how to live mindfully. Over the years I have been manifesting a connection between these two seemingly separate subjects.

Adoptive parenting — if I choose to do it in a way that doesn’t sap my sanity — requires that I become more mindful within myself, that I not parent on auto-pilot. In stressful moments when I want to contract and breathe quickly and shallowly (such as when one of my darlings has brought me to my knees by laying on one my triggers), I am instead cultivating the habit of becoming expansive and breathing deeply. In addition to scanning my environment for what/who out there needs to change, I also scan within to see what I may need to address.  I wonder if I would be so drawn to mindfulness if I didn’t frequently need to center and ground myself due to having my buttons pushed.

I can think of one more way that button drama has a silver lining.  Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my kids have begun with their attempts to push my buttons. From a place of rawness we find genuine connection devoid of artifice. We get real and we grow together.

What are you own parenting hot buttons? What have you done to deal with them?

Image courtesy Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This article is adapted from one that appeared on EmpoweringParents.com.

The Weight of Weight: Women and Body Image

Humorist Shannon Bradley Colleary is the total package — brainy, beautiful, bold and bodacious. She has a fantastic sense of humor and a healthy body image (wait ’til you see just how healthy). She treads regularly where Not-So-Feisty Lori only dreams of treading.

Shannon and I share a few things in common, though. We are both tail-end baby boomers, still in the throes of child-raising while many of our peers are facing empty nests. We aim to live more mindfully (an advantage that often comes with of aging), even as we watch our youthful appearance retreat in the rear-view mirror (a disadvantage that always comes with aging). We both would like to heal body image issues and love our bodies just as they are.

To that end, Shannon started her #LoveYourBodyNow project. Today I turn over my space to her for this guest post I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

~~~~~

The Woman Formerly Known as BeautifulAt 48 my weight creeps up quickly. Two years ago I wrote the article Am I Really Fat? which went viral because I discovered, despite my intense self-criticism, that I was a completely healthy weight for a woman my age.

It’s been a cosmic shift for me to feel that 140 lbs at 5′ 6″ is not just a healthy weight but an attractive weight. I spent my young adult life weighing about 120 lbs. I could eat whatever I wanted and that weight just felt normal to me. So shifting to 20 lbs. up felt sinful. But writing the post and taking the subsequent TASTEFUL nude photos at age 46 helped me accept my now mature woman’s body.

I was at peace. Until I stepped on a doctor’s scale a few weeks ago and was told I weighed 147 lbs. What the what? Okay, I was wearing my clothes, but my shoes were off. What did this weight MEAN? Did it mean I was now on an ever-upward spiral that would end on The Biggest Loser?

I stood naked in my bathroom and perused my body from every angle. Maybe I was crazy, but it looked pretty much the same as it had for the last five years. I couldn’t really locate the extra 7 pounds. I could find them when I tried to button my pants, but naked, well, I still looked pretty good to myself.

Then I stood in front of Henry naked. “I’ve gained 7 pounds,” I said in a funereal tone.

Recognizing he was not in sensual, but rather dangerous waters he replied, “I don’t see them” with the flat affect of a person who recognizes the hitchhiker he just picked up is deranged and carrying a shiv.

“I don’t see the seven pounds either,” I said, “but apparently they’re there.”

“How dare they?”

“They’re sneaky little sh!ts.”

“Maybe I do see them. They’ve gone to your breasts. And maybe your inner thighs, which is good because you were too bony there and I was always getting bruises when we had relations.”

“When you say ‘relations’ it makes me never want to have sex with you again.”

“I’m a recovering Catholic. The seven pounds is hot.”

“I love you even if you almost have no hair.”

“I love you even if you have too much hair. And a slight mustache.”

look good in swimsuit near age 50

Shannon with 7 extra seven pounds. Totally beautiful.

Even with my husband’s approval and my own favorable impression of my naked body I decided to lose those 7 pounds. I had to close the floodgates somewhere and 140 was my Little Big Horn.

I began logging everything I ate through a free app. I was startled to discover that I eat enough food to fuel the entire USC defensive line. Part of the problem is the wine. Not that it’s so many calories, but after a glass I feel impervious to weight gain so I eat brownies followed by kugel, which, if you haven’t had it because you’re a shiksa, you should think again.

My daughters noticed me documenting all of my food which worried me because I don’t want them doing the same thing and becoming anorexic and dying from starvation. Yes. I go right there into the deep dark pit of hell. It’s the Irish in me.

MyFitnessPal told me I needed to eat only 1290 calories in order to drop the weight. 1290 calories is basically a stick of cheese, a spoonful of peanut butter and air. I didn’t meet my calorie goal for EVEN ONE DAY since I started my quest to reclaim 140. Not. One. Day.

So I cheated and decided to try to eat less than 2000 calories a day. That just seemed like a more sane approach. And then I ran across the most amazing article in HuffPo. Iris Higgins’ An Open Apology To My Weight Loss Clients.

In it Higgins specifically apologizes for putting women who were a perfectly healthy weight on a 1200-calories-a day-meal plan. Her conclusion was that anything between 1200-1500 calories a day is potentially damaging to a woman’s health!

This was a relief to me. I’m glad I’ve started tracking my food intake. I’ve been eating somewhat mindlessly. And also simply out of boredom in the late hours of the evening after spending a day working, picking up and driving children hither and yon and loading and unloading the dishwasher 5,623 times.

I will continue keeping track for a few more months so I can know what it feels like to be satiated and not overly full. So I will be aware of food before I’ve already put it in my mouth, chewed and swallowed. I want to eat mindfully, healthfully and in a way where I respect my body.

But my ultimate, and elusive final goal is to simply love and appreciate my body in all its incarnations. I’m a work in progress, but in writing about it I’ve found I’m not alone. That many of us grapple with loving our bodies and living in them fully regardless of their form.

What are some ways you love your body just as it is?

Shannon Bradley-Colleary blogs at The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful. She’s also a contributing blogger on The Huffington Post; her favorite subjects being beauty, body, babies and larceny. You can Follow her on Twitter of Like her on Facebook. She’s also slightly mustachioed.

~~~~~

Still trying to spot that mustache…

Visit Shannon to read my love letter to my body on her blog.

Have you signed up yet to read and discuss the new novel Apart at the Seams? Deadline to join this virtual book club is August 1.

Finally, to those who arrive here by googling “blogs that accept guest posts,” please see the second paragraph here first.

Sign Up for this Book Tour: Apart at the Seams by Melissa Ford

Melissa Ford's third novelShe had Mr. Right all sewn up . . . until Mr. Wonderful came along.

That’s the teaser line for Melissa Ford’s latest novel, Apart at the Seams. Though it’s the third in a series, Melissa calls it a “sideways sequel.” Which means that if you’ve read Life from Scratch and/or Measure of Love, you’ll be primed for the viewpoint of  Rachel’s best friend, Arianna. And if you HAVEN’T read these other novels, you will enjoy getting to know Arianna for the first time — without missing anything.

I invite you to participate in a Virtual Book Tour.

It’s easy and it’s fun (and it’s how I started blogging).

  1. Sign up today.
  2. Get and read the book.
  3. Discuss it in September with other readers.

The book is available via Amazon in paperback ($13), Kindle ($7) and at various other booksellers. I’ll provide the forum here; you just need to provide your own coffee and danishes (or wine and Cheetos, if you’re so inclined).

The Author, Melissa Ford

Novelist Melissa FordYou may recognize Melissa from her long-running and popular blog Stirrup Queens. Melissa’s first book is the nonfiction Navigating the Land of IF, a guide through the various neighborhoods of infertility. Melissa is section editor for BlogHer for Blogging & Social Media and for Health. She’s a baker, a wife, a Nationals superfan, a mother to twins, and my friend.

As a special treat, Melissa will participate in this book tour by responding to reader questions. So if you think of any while you’re reading the book, capture that thought.

How does a Virtual Book Tour work?

  • August 1: Last day to sign up for the tour. You’ll find the “Book Tour Signup” form below.
  • Read the book between now and mid-August. Reserve it from your library or purchase from your favorite bookseller.
  • August 15: Come up with up 1 or 2 discussion questions to ask of other participants (not Yes-or-No). A question for the author is optional.
  • Shortly thereafter, you’ll receive a list of questions from other participants. From this list you will choose any 3 to answer on your blog. If you don’t have a blog, one will be provided for you.
  • September 4: posts go up! Links to participant stops on the book tour will be posted here on LavenderLuz.com so you can read, comment and discuss with each other — just like a face-to-face book club, but with less coffee cake and more keystrokes.
  • Please follow this blog and spread the word to interested parties (tweet, share, G+ with the buttons at the bottom of this post).

I am rapidly closing in on the end of Apart at the Seams and am eager to discuss it with you. So fill out this form ↑ .

Open adoption parenting & mindful living