Would you do the same?
We've definitely thought about and fantasized about kicking our fighting kids out of the car ... but this mom actually did it!
According to White Plains police, Primoff ordered the arguing girls out of the car Sunday evening as they were driving home. She left them 3 miles from their house, then sped off, the police report said.
The police report says the 12-year-old eventually caught up with the mother. The 10-year-old was reportedly found by a "Good Samaritan" on the street, upset and emotional about losing her mother, police said.
The Associated Press reports that the girl gave police her mother's name and their address in Scarsdale, and they asked Scarsdale police to check Primoff's $2 million house. Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark.
He directed her to White Plains police headquarters, where she was arrested. She has pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges.
"It's no wonder that this story is getting so much reaction from mothers," says Spivack. "The feelings this mom had at the end of a long day are completely normal, but are often not spoken about. Why? Moms fear they'll look like terrible mothers if they admit to these feelings, and they also carry a tremendous amount of guilt for even having them."
But it's crucial these emotions are acknowledged and discussed, Spivack insists. "At the end of a long day and just prior to the dinner/homework hours with two kids fighting in the back of her car, anyone could lose it," Spivack says. "It's human to finally hit a wall and run out of patience. And yet we never want to let ourselves get out of control and do something potentially damaging, emotionally or physically."
Spivack says we need LOTS of patience with kids -- all the way through the teen years and beyond. "Kids' jobs are to test us, to test each other, and to be demanding a lot of the time," she explains. "Dealing with that is part of our job description. Many normal moms feel all kinds of urges -- to run away, to spank, to drop their kids off on the side of the road -- but most don't act on those urges. They have to find a way to take some time off and figure out a better way of dealing with the behaviors and their own feelings of being overwhelmed."
What can you do as a mom when you're feeling stressed out beyond belief?
1) Keep your feelings in check.
The old adage "If Mom isn't happy, no one is going to be happy" is really true! In order to be a patient parent who can make good conscious decisions, you need to take care of yourself. This may mean scheduling your own exercise time, girlfriend time, or anything fun you can put into your week that will help to counterbalance the intensive demands of raising kids. Ask your spouse or other family members to help you when you're feeling overwhelmed. Even though moms feel guilt when they take time for themselves, the outcome is ALWAYS better than being around when you feel overwhelmed and feeling like you're going to lose it!2) Take a Mommy Time-Out.
When you're upset, take five slow deep breaths until you feel more calm. If you're in the car with your kids, pull over somewhere safe and get out and just cool down. Once you've got a handle on your emotions, you can at least drive home safely and think about the consequences later. This time-out prevents us from scaring our kids, and models a socially appropriate way for dealing with the anger that we all feel sometimes. Feelings are OK -- but acting them out in a frightening way is not.
3) Talk to other moms about your feelings.
Whether you do this on a website community like momlogic or in your own neighborhood or with friends, you need to be able to talk to other moms when you're feeling overwhelmed and don't know what to do. Having support during the parenting years is critically important for all moms to maintain their sanity and to help them make the right choices. Just normalizing these feelings for parents gives them so much relief! If you feel like you don't have a strong support network and are isolated, you can also talk with a therapist about your feelings.
4) Model appropriate ways of dealing with anger.
Children learn by watching their parents. If you don't want your children throwing tantrums, set an example by keeping your cool -- even when your toddler has just redecorated the family room couch with finger paints. Parents should punish their children in a matter-of-fact manner without getting too angry or upset.
5) Learn about the importance of consistent limit-setting so your kids don't become out of control.
Some parents think it will hurt their kids to set limits with them -- but, actually, these parents are often the people who lose it completely at some point when the behavior gets out of control. Better to keep things under control along the way than to let them push you to the brink where you're doing something you'll regret! Generate logical consequences in advance for typical problems you encounter with your kids. You'll need to come up with things you can do in these situations when you're not in the heat of the moment. Focus on solutions that won't endanger your kids but still get the message across.
Spivack says if your kids are driving you nuts in the car, for example, you might stop the vehicle and sit quietly in the front seat, not saying a word until they've calmed down. Once they do, let them know that because this screaming match has taken so much time and energy, you've now run out of time to make dinner. Bummer! Everyone will be going to bed hungry. And FOLLOW THROUGH!
Will Madlyn's kids be scarred for life?
Probably not, says Spivack. "If this was an unusual situation for this family, they should be able to move through this incident unharmed, as long as Mom is able to let them know that she is truly sorry. Although she had a right to be upset at them at that moment, she made a very big mistake -- and it will never happen again because she's going to come up with some other ways to handle that in the future."
But if this was not an unusual situation for the family, Spivack says Madlyn really needs help from a professional who can help her deal with her stress levels and help her strategize anger management and disciplinary techniques. This is crucial, she says, because kids whose parents act out in unpredictable and frightening ways often begin to have behavior problems themselves.
|Jill Spivack, author of "The Sleepeasy Solution" and co-founder of Sleepy Planet Inc., is a psychotherapist and mother of two.|