Does this sound familiar? It’s been a long day at work, you finally arrive back home at the castle exhausted and ready to relax only to step in the door and discover that the chores you asked your child to do aren’t done —- AGAIN! He comes up with excuse after excuse, and you’ve had enough. Feeling frustrated and unappreciated, you blurt out,
“I work long and hard so I can put food on the table and clothes on your back, and you can’t even do one thing I have asked you to do? You are so ungrateful and don’t care about anyone but yourself!”
If this sounds familiar (whether you say it out loud or think it to yourself), trust me when I tell you that you’re not alone. I’m having flashbacks just writing this. It hurts when you feel disrespected and unappreciated. Parents often feel angry, sad, or lonely when dealing with bad behavior, especially if you’re a single parent. Don’t worry. This doesn’t in any kingdom make you a bad parent. You’re human and feelings like these are normal. There is nothing wrong with wanting recognition for the hard work you do. Being a parent is not easy, but I don’t have to tell you that! Let me assure you that you are doing great! Looking for answers to help make parenting less of a struggle is proof enough for me.
When you’re find yourself with a situation that makes you think, “My child doesn’t care about me or my feelings,” it helps to take a deep breath and understand that when you treat behavior and emotions separate you decrease the chances of a power struggle between you and your child. I know, it is hard not to react when your child is pushing your buttons and literally getting on your “last nerve.” Remember that you’re dealing with someone who is less mature and less capable than you are. Your children are going to make mistakes, they are going to be impulsive and say things they shouldn’t say—they’re kids. Don’t forget that you’re the mature one. Okay, now here’s the part most parents struggle with…Stay Calm. Don’t take it personal. If you separate the emotion (I’m so mad I might explode) from the behavior (once again this child has not done his chores) you maintain your position of authority and limit the power struggle. Let’s face it, children are going to test your authority on a regular basis. This is just how they roll. Knowing and accepting this up front allows you ample time to develop a strategy that not only teaches your child what is needed to become a successful adult, but it establishes and reaffirms your boundaries.
If staying calm is difficult for you…take a break. I incorporated 30 minutes from the time I arrived at the castle before I shifted my focus to the task of being parent. This time was just my way of unwinding so that I could address any and all issues from a place of calmness. Now, you will have to use your own judgement about this. I have to admit that sometimes 30 minutes wasn’t enough or the issue clearly needed my attention sooner. Just do what you need to do to address the behavior calmly and don’t forget to breathe.
I think it’s important to understand that children live in their own little world and often times in their own little world they see themselves as knowing it all. They are growing, hanging out with friends and developing their independence. And although we as parents struggle to accept it…the older your child gets, the less he needs you. It’s not the same for us. Our love for our children is often huge and all–encompassing. As hard as it is, I think you have to be whole in yourself and have a strong enough ego to let your child do things on his own and leave you eventually. That also means allowing them to experience the affects of the decisons they make. My boys will tell you that “Cause and Affect” was a big deal in our castle. Your child might say, “I don’t feel like doing chores!” If you react emotionally to this proclamation instead of calmly your child might not learn the importance of having to do things they might not feel like doing. If you are waiting for your child to say, “I just love doing chores!” forget it…that will probably never happen. Parenting has always been a balance between thinking and feeling, and both are very important. When you’re over–personalizing, you’re letting your feelings drive your actions. Think about it…isn’t that what the child is doing?
I can not count to number of times a parent has said to me, “I don’t want my child to hate me.” Are you serious? There may be times when your child might not like you, but I highly doubt that it equates to not loving you. Children, like adults can say things in anger or when filled with their emotions that they simply don’t mean. Please don’t fall into that trap. What your child needs is a loving parent looking out for what’s best for them even though they may not appreciate it. Don’t try to be their friend! If you avoid setting limits and try instead to be your child’s friend, you won’t be an effective parent. You won’t be able to teach your child what he needs to learn as he grows up. They can make friends…they only have one set of parents. The role of parent is critical and essential for your child and nobody does that better than you.
“By saying a phrase like, ‘You’re making me crazy,’ you’re not engaging your child’s empathy —-you’re engaging your kid’s urge to use domination and control as a problem-solving tool. And those tools aren’t effective.” – James Lehman, MSW
You don’t have to lose your mind. Let’s discuss actionable steps and strategies you can use today to reduce the frustrations and empower you as a parent. You are not alone….Let’s Talk! Book your 30 minute consult with me today. It’s complimentary so there is no charge.