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Saturday, August 01, 2009

The cool thing about being a writer mom

As a writer, I study a lot of people stuff. Characters, psychology, you name it, I study it. Really knowing people is how you learn how to write people.

Lately, I've noticed the fighting between my kiddos getting worse. Yes, it's the end of summer break, and yes, we've been cooped up in the house with all the rain. As they've fought, I've started noticing things about how they fight and why.

One of the biggest things I've noticed is that my 5yo bullies my 8yo. I've been reluctant to step in because I don't want my 8yo to learn that it's okay to take bullying or that every time she's bullied, I'm going to step in. But I also don't want her retaliating.

This afternoon, I heard the familiar scream of my 8yo, having had it up to here with her little sister. I heard her stomp upstairs, crying, because of whatever the latest fight was. I've observed enough that I know what's going on. And today, I used my writerly skills, and sat them down.

The real issue between them is that my 8yo is like me. She likes alone time. She doesn't like spending every waking moment with another human being. She also doesn't like a lot of the same things her sister likes, like princesses. My 5yo is the child I wonder about daily- how God could have given me someone so different from me. She would rather die than be alone. She needs to be with people EVERY. WAKING. MOMENT. She likes her sister. Looks up to her sister. So of course, not only does she want to be with her sister all the time, her sister needs time away. Not only to live her own life, but to simply be alone. See the conflict?

I sat both girls down, and talked about these needs. Talked about their differences. And how we need to love and embrace those differences. I also talked about tools they can use for working with those differences. My 5yo needs to give her big sister space. My 8yo needs to express that need for space appropriately. But she also needs to give her baby sister a break and understand that she's not out to torture her. She just likes being with her and doesn't always express it appropriately.

We left the conversation with two little girls understanding each other a little better. Will our "move forward plan" work? I don't know. But they seem to be in better moods toward one another, so that's progress at least.

I think, even if I never sell a book, the benefit of being a writer has taught me ways to look inside my little girls and, I hope, be a better mom to them.

For those of you who write, what has writing helped you do better as a parent?


a mom in the 'burbs said...

I recently did some personality testing on my characters, trying to understand them better. For fun, did them for my kids, too, and learned a LOT. Like the fact that my easy-going 10 year old is the same personality as my husband. Part of why she is so much fun for me, but also a HUGE eye opener on how some of the same weaknesses DRIVE.ME.NUTS. It was a tremendous moment for me to GET her better. A great eye-opener!

Jody Hedlund said...

Very cool how you were able to study your children and understand their personality needs! Perhaps I need to study my children a little more because we sure have a lot of bickering too! Part of what I've been working with my children on this summer is using self-control in dealing with each other. They can't just let it all out whenever they're frustrated with someone. It's definitely challenging, isn't it?

Denise Miller Holmes said...

I've always said that writers are lay psychologists. They have to study and understand human nature. Good job with your girls, Danica