Brothers and Sisters

Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply…  ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

My youngest son has hit a rough patch in his behavior. I don’t know what is triggering it. Changes in our home environment, natural growth and development or just his innate personality. But it’s been tough for me.

When he acts up, and lately he is quite frequently, I am torn between complete glee and laughter and frustration and needing to discipline him.

The glee and laughter comes from the fact that my son’s personality is very much mine. He is a quiet, shy child to most. Observant, cautious and lacking trust. I was, and am, the same way.  However, on the flip side he is defiant, quite bright, strong willed, angry and pretty sassy with his mouth. Again, that is me.

It makes me chuckle and love him more to see so much of myself reflected in him yet at the same time I am struggling with how much of that attitude I permit. My own strong will and attitude, in many ways, saved me from a great deal of pain (not enough, but some). I have routinely challenged authority and am quite comfortable in my adult life being very independent. However, those traits don’t come without paying a price. As a child, I engaged my father in more ways than one and paid dearly for that defiant nature. As an adult, my independent, non trusting nature wreaked havoc with intimate relationships. I would like my children to absorb my best traits not my worst. This becomes a challenge when managing a trait that can be your greatest strength or your biggest weakness.

My son has taken to this annoying habit of repeating everything you say. For example:

“Stefan, don’t do that. Put that back. I told you not to touch that”, I say

“Stefan, don’t do that. Put that back. I told you not to touch that”, he says in a mocking sing song four year old voice.

Where do I go from here? Do I continue correcting him? Let it go? Holler at him for his sassy attitude?  This child does not respond to stern voice and very little fear. He will engage you in a staring contest without question and if you are speaking to him, trying to reason with him, he will outright ignore you. He also stomps his feet, slams doors and throw things in anger. He isnt adverse to kicking and hitting either. (This makes my son sound like a monster, he really isnt but certainly has the potential to be one!)

Yes, all those traits are mine

In dealing with him lately, I find myself wondering, as I always do, what kind of child my daughter was. Was she like my oldest son? Easygoing, obedient, sensitive, quiet helpful and pretty even keeled? Or was she like my youngest? Was she a challenge to her adoptive parents?  Unlike me, who can see myself in my son and know what will work and not work, how did her adoptive parents handle her?  Did they holler at her to behave and ask her why she didn’t act like them? (Duh, dumb question, but adoptive parents actually ask that question "Why arent you like us?").

I see my daughter in my youngest son physically. I have pictures of them both at the same age and it’s quite obvious they are brother and sister. But how far does that similarity go? Is she or was she also openly defiant and strong willed? Lord knows, she is to me now but is that her nature or is that her rejecting me in reunion?

Will my sassy five year old son help me to understand my struggling twenty something daughter?

5 Thoughts.

  1. my daughter’s aparents would ask her “where did that behavior come from, we didn’t teach you that” and she took it always as suggesting it came from me (or her dad), whether that’s what they meant by it or not. Because I didn’t know her as a child I don’t know how much she resembles my raised children, but they certainly all roll their eyes the same way and give me the same “duh” look from the corners and press their lips together when they’re not happy with something I say. All four of us are intensely private and don’t like to be interrupted or questioned about what we’re doing, and can be quite clear in expressing that (read: peevish and defensive) when feeling threatened. It is interesting to think about and I definitely watch for the similarities and differences.
    As for your son, I think I’d ignore the tone and thank him for listening so carefully 🙂

  2. I like Najah’s idea, but my own son would just repeat, “Thank you for listening so carefully.”
    I know that feeling of glee. I have struggled too with wanting to laugh and wanting to be a good disciplinarian. My son was the first person in my life who looked like me and acted like me. I love it, but sometimes it forces me to look in the mirror.

  3. Oh don’t holler, he is just being a little boy.
    If he copies you, start saying how much you love your mother…

  4. Suz: Even though there is a resemblence they are different. When you look in the mirror and see him in you, Maybe ask how can I handle you? Sounds like he wants your attention and he is angry. Try not to show your weaknesses and stay focused on Him. I only know what I have learned and no matter how many children you have each one has special needs and special handling. As you say, he doesnt respond to anything right now. Whatever you do, dont let him know he is getting (angering) to you!!

  5. pick your battles. one thing ive learned is to ignore certain things and they usually just stop once they cant get the rise or attention from it.

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