Being a mother or father is a balancing act of taking care of your kids while letting them grow up and learn from their mistakes. Your role as parent constantly changes from loving and protecting your baby to one of accepting that your child will need to experience hardships.
The hard part—for them and us—is that these consequences almost always include some discomfort, disappointment, and pain. But allowing them to struggle is so beneficial to their development. it is through tackling and overcoming these challenges that your child learns and changes, it is what will help them develop their own independence and assess their own capabilities.
Parents face many challenges. More challenges than we ever expected or knew about before having children! The biggest and most common are:
1. How to Parent the Child You Have, Not the Child You Wish You Had
Often, we try to parent our kids based on who we think they should be instead of who they really are. It can be tough and exhausting to have a son who’s defiant and disrespectful. Or you might simply have a child who’s very different from you. So, trying to see their side of things becomes a constant, draining battle.
You might think, “Hey, this isn’t what I signed up for! Is this what motherhood is supposed to be like?”
when you accept that your child is not who you thought he was going to be, real grief can emerge. You might have to give up certain dreams you had for your child’s future when you realise he’s just not going to take the path you’d hoped he would whether that be from choice or from a mental or physical condition. Understanding, that once you let go and accept who your child is, a different kind of love can develop. You’ll be able to see him clearly for the person he truly is.
True acceptance is one of the most powerful, loving things a parent can give to their child. It’s the basis for so many things, including being able to develop and communicate reasonable expectations for appropriate behavior. As a bonus, when you accept your child for who she is, she can then become better at accepting herself.
2. How to Let Your Child Experience the Pain of Consequences
You can't protect your child from anything happening to him (think Finding Nemo). How will your child learn from his poor choices if you take away the natural consequences of those choices?
Humans learn through trial and error. It is often the best way to learn. We touch something hot, it hurts, we learn not to touch it again. He can’t learn this way if you put up a protective fence around your child and try to fix things for him, nor will he learn his own limitations.
Remember It’s our job as parents to help our kids through these difficult times, but it’s not our job to bear all their burdens for them. This may mean letting your child feel pain and disappointment as long as it is safe for him to do so (not life-threatening, or likely to leave scars ect.)
You can help him by talking about what the consequence will be, why you want him to avoid it and how he can handle himself differently next time. By simply letting your child know you’re there for him because you love him, you’re giving him one of the most important things a parent can ever give.
3. How to Face Judgment, Shame, and Blame from Others
If you have a child who acts out and engages in challenging behaviors—tantrums, yelling, disobeying you or being annoying and obnoxious—you’ve probably gotten “the look” from friends and strangers alike. You know the one—it says, “What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you doing something about your child’s behavior?!”
That look can make you feel like a terrible mom or dad, even if you know you’re doing everything you can to raise your child the best you know how. And the truth is, others will probably judge you—it’s human nature.
But when your child is acting out and you’re feeling judged by others, stop and say to yourself: I am doing what is right for my child. learn how to engage in “positive self-talk,” or talking to yourself in a way that promotes calmness and hope, rather than panic. At the end of the day as long as you are raising your child in a safe, loving environment then it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks and you should just remember that they hold very little importance in your child's life compared to you, so you have the right to decide how you want to handle those 'embarrassing' moments.
4. Coping When Your Child Says “I Hate You, Mom!”
One of the hardest things parents face is when their child is mean, rude, or disrespectful. Your child may have always been this way. Or the change in their personality might have seemingly happened overnight—perhaps when they hit the pre-teen years. One day your 10-year-old loves being with you. The next day she’s screaming “I hate you,” calling you names, and refusing to go anywhere with you.
The words “I hate you” can have the power to reduce any parent to tears or anger. It can make you feel like you’ve failed and wonder where you went wrong. Kids know that saying these words can paralyze a parent during a fight, which is why they use this tactic to get what they want. As hard as it is, try not to personalise your child’s behavior, even when they say that they hate you. When you personalise things, it makes it very hard to be objective about how to respond to your child in the moment.
A good thing to do when this happens is stop, breathe, and instead of a knee-jerk reaction, respond with something like the following:
“We’re not talking about that right now. We’re talking about the fact that you need to do your homework.”
You can also ask yourself:
“What does my child need from me right now?”
It might be some space. Or it might be for you to follow through on a consequence you issued. But remember, try not to take these words from your kids personally.
5. How to Let Go
During your child’s pre-adolescence and adolescence years, you are constantly confronted with the challenge of letting go. This is especially difficult if your kid seems to need to learn things the hard way. A natural part of adolescence is risk-taking — which often results in breaking rules and inappropriate behavior. It becomes extremely important as a parent to be able to disconnect from your emotional response to this misbehavior.
Emotional responses include feeling guilty, embarrassed, ashamed, or simply disappointed. As parents, when our kids get older, we need to pull back a bit and become coaches and teachers while we let our kids begin to play the game of life. We still love our children as people, but we need to give them space to learn, space for trial and error. As painful as it is to accept sometimes, our children are born to move away from us. There is a sense of grief that goes along with this. I’ve experienced it myself. It’s important to remember that this work of caring for our children while they are constantly separating from us and becoming individuals can be stressful, demanding, and confusing.
Remember that you are doing the best you can and that you won’t be perfect. More important than trying to be a perfect parent is to be a “good enough” parent. A “good enough” parent takes care of their child and tries their best. Hard situations are part of life – but these situations can help us learn and grow.
You can’t protect your children from everything bad that might happen to them. Or from the poor choices they may make. But you can help them learn from the bad situations they get themselves into.
Your child will likely not thank you now for letting her struggle on her own and suffer through a consequence, but she may surprise you when she’s an adult by telling you that your coaching, teaching or limit setting made a positive difference in her life.
Have a fantastic day.
I hope to see you again soon.