“What am I doing wrong?” – I hear this from parents often, especially when their children have a meltdown in the store.
Parents are embarrassed, ashamed. They feel that everyone is judging them, and worse, they are judging themselves.
I’m sure you know the feeling and have had the experience of being in public when… your child starts screaming, everyone is looking at you, and you want to disappear into a black hole.
Somehow, you think, “If I were a good parent, my child wouldn’t do this. I would know exactly what to do. I could nip this in the bud.”
Maybe you add on to your inner thoughts, “when I get home I’ll read another parenting book or look online to figure out what I’m doing wrong.”
It’s only natural that your desire to be a good parent compels you to want to know what to do, but reading another book or asking Google for help may also be confusing.
So before you do that, there are a few things I want you to think about.
You can be “the best parent in the world” but your children will still be children. They will have meltdowns, they will be out of control of their emotions sometimes, they will say “no”, they will test limits, they will refuse to get into the car seat, they will demand your attention, they will constantly be asking for approval… They will act like and be…..children.
Children have parents because growing up as a human being is difficult and challenging. Children are born knowing absolutely nothing about the world and how to be in the world. They have to learn it all. From you. You are their teacher.
Everything they learn has to be practiced over and over and over again. Every time you hear yourself saying or thinking “How many times do I need to tell them, show them, explain to them??” etc., The answer is “probably more”. Every species learns through repetition and constant “teaching” from the beings that care about them.
Becoming a mature adult takes time. Some would say decades. There is no way your child has the capacity to behave like an adult. And it’s not realistic on your part to expect them to do so.
Your children are immature, and will act immature until they grow up.
As they grow older they will learn more, their brains will mature and they will gradually become more and more “grown up”. But they are still children – even when they are teenagers.
You are not a bad parent because your children are immature and actually act their age.
Every parent has moments when they throw up their hands or need to take a time out for themselves. You are not inadequate because you do too!
The more you “dump” on yourself, the worse you’ll feel about yourself, and the more discouraged you’ll be. This makes parenting harder.
Be kind to yourself. Parenting is very difficult, messy, unpredictable, exhausting, confusing, and it brings you face to face with yourself in ways you never anticipated.
If you feel you want to get advice from the “experts”, certainly do so. It’s good to hear different ideas and perspectives.
But as you seek advice, please keep this in mind:
YOU ARE THE EXPERT ON YOUR CHILDREN!
There are many books, websites, blogs, and on and offline courses on parenting written by “parenting experts”, and I am one among many.
But in reality, none of us are experts in parenting all children, because really and truly, every child is different, every baby is different, every parent is different, every culture is different, every moment in history is different.
And, no one knows or loves your child more than you.
We all differ in how we want our children to be.
For some of us, achievement is everything. We want our children to be highly successful, to amass wealth and status so they will be secure and respected.
For some of us, we want our children to be “tough”, to be able to survive in a harsh and heartless environment – able to withstand prejudice and discrimination.
For some of us, we want our children to be independent thinkers, motivated by a strong conscience, willing to take a stand, concerned about social justice.
Some of us want our children to fit in so they are liked and accepted.
Some of us want our children to be deeply spiritual and/or religious. We want them to connect with a higher purpose or power.
There is no “way” to raise children. As it has been said about so many aspects of life, “No way is The way”.
If there were a definite “right way” to parent, there’d be one parenting book that everyone read and followed. There’d be one website, one mommy blog, one facebook page and twitter account that could tell you how to raise your child.
But that is not how it is.
As you’ve probably noticed, there are many parenting experts. And you’ve probably noticed that parenting experts disagree with each other.
They often see things totally opposite from each other, and they insist that they are right and have found the “foolproof way” that will “change your life”.
What’s important for you to know is that all “experts” have a point of view.
Just as parents have different goals for their children, so do parenting experts. They give advice and select “research” to back up what they say.
Often times there is no research supporting some parenting experts information. it is just their ideological perspective.
Many parenting books make you feel inadequate and feel bad about your children. From my perspective, they are not doing you a service.
I personally believe that
- It’s always helpful to learn more solid information about child development. Knowing what behaviours are “normal” for your child’s age can be very reassuring.
- It’s always helpful to choose the parenting advice that gets you more connected to your children.
- It’s always helpful to choose the parenting advice that is compassionate towards you and your children, gives you acknowledgement for how important you are, and how hard you are trying to be a good parent.
- It’s always important to choose parenting approaches that resonate with you in your heart and that help you to feel more confidence in your inner intuitive parenting wisdom.
Know that your parenting struggles are “normal” and that everyone has them. Seek help carefully if you feel you need it. Pat yourself on the back for caring about and loving your children as much as you do.
You, and, if you have a partner you are parenting with are the most important person in your child’s life.
I believe that parents are the most important people in the world!