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What I'm Doing to Regain My Kids' Trust

I am hard on my oldest.

I'm a paradox of nurturing my kids, letting them lead their own way. And yet I know, too often, I'm glaring at my oldest, in disbelief that he hasn't cleaned up his mess or that he's forgotten his homework at school.

I was a Type A child.

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I was constantly running around my neighborhood organizing shows, holding lemonade stands, and I was very prim and proper. The drive was born in me, but the wound tight part was part of my defense mechanism to survive in an unstable household.

This is what someone pointed out to me recently: The reason my son defies me sometimes is because I've created a safe place for him.

For too long his own home was not great. I was incredibly stressed with two younger kids, a move and other family things going on. Combined with drinking too much wine and throw in a new health issue it was not a good home.

There are only so many sorries you can say before someone will lose their trust in you.

You know when my oldest does remind me of myself? When I began to mimic the worst parts of my childhood. He can smell the air of change. He'll throw a comment out, trying to change it.

"Mom, you know what? This dinner is good actually."

I know what he's doing and, depending on my mood, I will either take a deep breath and say, "Thank you," and tell him I'm sorry for starting so grouchy. Or, if I can't take a deep breath, if I'm too far gone, it gets really ugly.

My 3-year-old cries, my 5-year-old gets silent and, as soon as my horrific explosion ends, my 5-year-old will scream and toss his beloved blanket and run to his room and shut the door.

By that time the damage is done.

I know that I'm only allotted so much of this before I break their trust. I know this from experience. There are only so many sorries you can say before someone will lose their trust in you.

As my kids say, sorry doesn't mean anything. They are right.

If I start to feel that happen again, I'm going to figure out where my rage is coming from. Face it. Not dull it with alcohol or excuses, like I'm too busy for me.

It doesn't mean much.

Thankfully, I've made some huge changes. I've stopped drinking so much. I gave up caffeine, and I cut off an emotionally abusive family member.

As my mother-in-law said recently on her trip here, my house seemed calmer. I couldn't feel more pride in the comment. If I start to feel that happen again, I'm going to figure out where my rage is coming from. Face it. Not dull it with alcohol or excuses, like I'm too busy for me.

These are vital years to my kids. I'm constantly trying to better my health now, and it's helping my home.

My son has become a bit lippier with me. I know what he's doing: He's testing me. Seeing if I'm going to crack. He doesn't fully trust me. I get it.

I will let him continue to test me. I know I'm not there yet.

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Yesterday he said, "Mom, I thought I saw you smile." His comment disturbed me. I'm not there yet but I'm working on getting there.

Trying to break a cycle of ugliness.

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Image by Lindsay Kavet

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