The challenge of being a parentPublished 4:37pm Saturday, October 6, 2012
QUESTION: What do you think is the hardest part of parenting?
ANSWER: “It all depends” is the thought that first comes to my mind. There are all kinds of circumstances and situations that can make parenting very challenging, so making general statements often miss the mark. I have a good friend who would respond, when asked her favorite color, “Of what? If it’s grass, green.”
Over the years, I’ve come to think that one of the most valuable parenting skills is to be able to remain firm and friendly when in challenging situations with children.
When our kids are frustrated and angry inside, and that results in a meltdown, how many of us respond by yelling, threatening and perpetuating the cycle? How many of us can’t handle our child’s tantrums, so we throw our own? “I am telling you right now, mister, you better stop that right now before I take away all your video games. I don’t have time for this.”
What we are really communicating is that I am the needy one. I need YOU to control yourself and your emotions–because I can’t control mine.
There is a flip side. Are we so anxious and dependent emotionally that we can’t say no and disappoint our child, because we can’t handle them being unhappy? This leads to resentment. “After all I do for you and this is what I get in response?!” We are trying too hard to make our kids happy, and now they feel entitled … when we need to realize that struggles and failure are the building blocks to competence and confidence.
Many of us don’t have the skills and tools to handle conflict, to stay present when others are emotional. So we shut them down, dismiss them, ignore them or hide behind our childish protestations. “Well, if you would just behave the way I need you to, then I could control myself.”
One of the hardest things about parenting may well be being the self-controlled grown up and leading our intense and challenging children by example to a calm place.
If you would like to talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org