Do I have you attention?
Back to school brings out many thoughts for school age children. It also brings out many thoughts for Parents of school age children. Bad thoughts. Negative thoughts.
Do you know how many times in the past two weeks I told a parent to cut themselves some slack? Told them parenting sucks? Let’s just say- enough times to know I needed to blog about this.
Who told you that parenting would be easy? I want names. Because these people should not be allowed to speak if they are going around spreading the lie that parenting is easy. The last easy moment you had was before you held a child in your arms, or held their hand- before you gave birth or signed adoption papers. After that- all bets are off.
I know there are billions of parenting books, articles, websites. I’m pretty sure I have read them all. But guess what? There is no parenting book for YOUR SPECIFIC CHILD. Because every child is unique- they have their own personality traits- a whole bunch of them. One book may have 1 thing that works for your kid- 1. Thousands of tips, only one which applies to your child. A book might not have any tip that helps your child. None. You got that? A book that works for everyone else might NOT work for you. This does not make you a bad parent. This does not make your kid a bad kid. You just need to figure out a different solution. There is nothing wrong with doing something a different way than everyone else if it works for you and your child. Got that? If it works for you and your child it is fine.
You will make mistakes as a parent.
Yes- you will. No kidding. No matter what you do, you will make a wrong decision. And I know this is not intentional. No one brings a child home and whispers over their bed “I’m going to do everything possible to screw up your life.” No one.
Own your mistakes. If you realize you did make a choice that is not working, figure out how to fix it. I always like the “reverse engineering” approach- look at the desired outcome and figure out what steps you need to get there. What if you don’t know what to do? Talk it out with people you trust (not the people who told you parenting was easy- seriously- don’t drink that kool aid). Seek professional help if you think the situation warrants it. But don’t sweep it under the rug- bad things have a tendency to snowball.
Communication is probably the most important parenting tip I can share- this one pretty much applies to everyone. LISTEN to your child. Comprehend what they are and are not saying. Talk WITH them, not AT them. If you feel uncomfortable (yes- lots of people are uncomfortable having deep conversations with their children) talk to them in a setting when you are not facing one another. Fishing, walking, driving- sometimes when your eyes are focused on something external you might be able to have a more frank discussion. If possible, talk to your child before they go to bed- when people are tired they tend to let their guard down. Also, your kid might just keep talking because they don’t want to go to sleep….
Judgement should be found in the court system, maybe at a gymnastics meet, but never at a PTA meeting. Don’t spend time worrying what other parents think about you. I’m going to repeat that: Don’t spend time worrying about what other parents think of you. If you are not going to listen to me on this, I would like a 200 word essay on why you think it’s OK for other parents to judge you- on why you think it’s OK for anyone to judge you. Because I can’t think of even one reason why it’s good to be judged, so I’m trying to expand my knowledge base.
Trust your instincts. Some of parenting is instinctual- you just “know” when something is good or bad. I know when my daughter is getting sick because she begins drinking more water. I know this does not really qualify as instinct, but it is noticing when routine is off. You know what is “normal” for your kid, and what is not.
So parents- please cut yourself some slack. Parenting is hard. Don’t constantly question yourself and the way you parent. If you are constantly stressed, don’t you think your kids are going to feel your stress? And then what do you think will happen? Remember- if you don’t have a good answer, I will be forced to blog about it…..