I am going to share with you one of the most profound tips on parenting. but one that is also hard for many to understand and apply at first. If you are a parent with high standards, and you find yourself impatient with yourself and your kids when you fail to meet those standards, read on. Many parents battle with self-sabotaging perfectionism; the higher your standards, the less patient most parents are, and the harder it is to achieve those very standards that mean so much to you.
One of my biggest ways that I provide help for parents stems from the fact that I was a struggling, frustrated parent who was also overwhelmed and filled with thoughts that I’d never get parenting figured out. Long after I started teaching parenting classes I was battling with my kids and feeling like a failure as a parent way too often. I worried that my kids would grow up hating me, messed up or just not be close to me because of all our conflict during their childhood. Yet I persisted in trying to be a better parent, just as you are, and eventually found an answer that was not in the parenting books I was reading or the courses I was teaching or taking.
Parenting was not a strength for me in the early years. I am not the classic parenting educator who from day one did all the right things and raised two perfect kids who have excelled and made me proud starting with their emergence from the birth canal. Trust me, that is what I would have chosen as my story if I could have, and yet I know that I can help so many parents precisely because I’ve been in the trenches with the screaming, tantruming child, faced my parental failings, and the conviction that I just couldn’t do this parenting thing, and eventually learned how to get to the place I want to be with my kids.
I have made many of the classic mistakes that other educators, and even myself, taught not to do. I was way too hard on my kids and created many problems later in their lives because of my unrealistic expectations of them. However, I did what every parent does, I did the best I knew how.
My parenting improved dramatically when I finally quit focusing solely on new tips on parenting to solve my parenting problems, and instead began to be gentle with myself for my many failings. I “knew” what to do to be the great parent I wanted to be, yet time and time again I found myself yelling at my kids or otherwise struggling to implement the great tips on parenting that I was surrounded with. My problem was not lack of information on how to be a great parent, it was lack of faith that I would be able to become the parent I wanted to be, and lack of patience with myself as I learned.
I now spend much more time imagining the great outcomes for me and my family than I do on seeing what we are doing wrong. This positive focus, and my acceptance that my mistakes in the past were the best I could do at the time, has resulted in a wonderful shift with my family. When the kids are misbehaving, as they did this morning, I am able to stay calm knowing that we can talk about the situation later when they are calmer. I know that they are good kids and their behavior will come around, so I don’t get mad at them so easily and escalate the conflict.
I want to digress for a moment to explain what happened this morning. When they woke up it was -34 Celsius with the windchill, which is about – 29 Fahrenheit. The kids wanted to stay home from school. Buses were running though and the temperature is supposed to warm up a lot over the day, so they had to go.
My 13 year-old son was quit grumpy about having to go to school, from the first moment he got up until he left. He complained that his friends won’t be there because they have to walk regardless of the temperature (we drive them when it is below -10 Celsius), we won’t do anything in class, etc. He badgered me and was quit negative and unpleasant to be around.
Tonight when they get home, I am going to talk to them about how inappropriate Sam was being. Because I was feeling gentle on myself and them, I didn’t get in a fight with them this morning and threaten consequences if they didn’t improve their attitude. I didn’t see myself as a failure as a parent because my son was being sour and complaining profusely. He is usually much better and fortunately my daughter was complaining much less. I didn’t see their bad behavior as part of their overall badness, but a blip that I could deal with later.
I’d love to hear your experiences with working on your attitude before dealing with your kids. If you are a parent who is struggling and feeling frustrated with parenting, I hope you feel the hope that is there for you. I know that some people who saw my struggles with my kids when they were younger must have shook their heads when they realized I was a parenting educator! They would tell you what I’m telling you; if I can become the parent I want to be, coming from such a tough start, so can you!
Please comment below and share this article with your friends. Peace does start at home, and we can all provide help for parents by passing on tips for parenting like this one, tips that result in a kinder, gentler home and therefore world.