Parenting techniques, insight, and maturity needed before I completely ruin my kid's life.
posted by anonymous to human relations (36 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have a nine-year-old son that causes me great anxiety at times. I know it is not rational to feel this way. He is a healthy, intelligent, nice kid. He does very well academically. He is self-motivated. He can be very shy at times. He has a competitive streak. He enjoys getting good grades and doing well. Sometimes he believes he can't do things when I'm confident he can. His confidence suffers at times. He has friends and functions fine socially. I have been told numerous times that he is "goodhearted", "strong", "athletic", "fair", "calm", and "kind" by teachers and friends. His second-grade teacher called him "my absentminded professor". He is fairly athletic and participates in sports and other extra-curricular activities. He can do almost anything you ask him to do.
At times he has behaviors that annoy me and cause me great anxiety. Not your everyday kid things like leaving the refrigerator open or peeing on the toilet seat. The anxiety happens when he runs a certain way, or talks like a baby, or throws a certain way, or sits on my lap when we have company, or does anything that I deem "strange", "feminine", "babyish", or "annoying".
Even though he is very smart he is an airhead. I hate to label him this way and I would never call him an airhead to his face. It seems he is always daydreaming, spacey, and forgetful. I was the same way as a kid and I don't want to hold it against him but it still drives me crazy. An example: Sometimes I lash out when he is spacing out in the bathtub or shower and doing nothing but playing with himself and staring at the ceiling. I'll raise my voice and yell his name a few times and shout, "Get to work!" Sometimes I'll begin washing him and shampooing his hair and pull him out of the tub, throw the towel around him and bark more orders. I lose my patience quickly with him when he is acting spacey. It leaves me feeling like a terrible parent and does nothing to build our relationship, instill confidence, or bring harmony. Sometimes I have great anxiety when he is on the field playing various team sports. Sometimes when he is playing with friends I'll eavesdrop. There is one neighborhood boy that is always touching, hugging, and hanging on my kid and it causes me anxiety.
I have another younger son that does not annoy me. He can space out in the bathtub or throw the ball poorly but I don't seem to get that anxious feeling. He does do better when prompted and seems more "with it". He is also more "masculine" than the bigger kid. I hate myself for thinking this way and scrutinizing masculine vs. feminine behaviors. I know it is wrong, childish, and even hateful on so many levels. My spouse thinks I'm crazy when I brooch the subject and always says, "He's fine. Leave him alone. Give him a chance to succeed."
I compare him to other boys his age and always seem to think other boys his age are more "boyish" or "masculine".
I don't want to sound like I am constantly berating my kid. Mostly, I have the thoughts and fears and refrain from acting out on them. There are times when I do act on the anxiety and I know I am crushing his confidence and causing a lot of heartache on both ends. I wish I were one of those very confident parents that accept their children for who they are. I do accept him most of the time and I do love him dearly but I still have these fears that he is not behaving the way a nine-year-old should and I freak out.
I should note that I can go for weeks, even months, feeling fine and anxiety-free. I only seem to have anxiety about my kids. I have a pretty awesome, low-stress life, and if you want to call this a problem, this is the only one I have. The anxiety comes and goes (the beginning of a new sports season for instance) and I begin focusing on his behavior. When he was younger I had no such thoughts or problems with him. I have been in therapy in the past and I do constructive things to control my anxiety levels (exercise, yoga, meditation, friends, hobbies, etc.) I know my behavior and thoughts are wrong and destructive.
This is deeply embarrassing for me to ask. I feel like I should be more evolved and wise. I am not a monster. I desperately want to calm down and accept him for who he is, be proud of him (I am proud of him), and help build his confidence instead of crushing it.
Why am I acting like this? Why am I so frustrated? Am I afraid that my child might be gay? Do I feel like his behavior is a reflection on my parenting? Maybe. How can I stop or channel this anxiety in a more productive way and let him be and accept him for who he is? Any advice, anecdotes, or wisdom appreciated.