I remember when I was pregnant and going to become a parent everyone had a whole bunch of advice. “Oh, you should use this kind of diaper. Oh, you should use this kind of formula; you should do daycare. You should not do daycare. You need to get on a preschool list like as soon as they're born. They need to go to Harvard Westlake or some kind of major private school or don't put them in you know school X, That's Just terrible.” Tons of people had advice but I don't ever remember anyone telling me about the hard parts of parenting which are as far as I'm concerned are watching your child struggle, seeing them unhappy or not in physical pain, necessarily but in pain, disciplining your child and then hearing those faithful words “I hate you!” Accepting that your child might not be the child that you had hoped for or that you dreamed about or that you want and the fourth thing is basing judgement or shame about how your child maybe behaving. Maybe it's the kind of grades they're getting, something that your child's doing that bring shame or discomfort. Now if someone had told me about those things I think I would have initially said “Oh that’s just silly; how can those things make parenting hard? Once you are a parent you realize that those four things are really significant and important.
Hard Allowing Your Child to Struggle
So the first one I want to talk about is watching your child struggle. I remember seeing my infant babies and hearing the cry or seeing them unhappy which literally hurt my heart! It was so hard to see my child unhappy. Then as my oldest son starts trying to walk or crawl or falls over or he is having trouble reaching something my instinct is “Oh my God I need to help him I need to make sure he's okay!” It's like the moms at the park (I tried not to be this mom, but I was sometimes any everyone's been there) and I've seen it where your kid is going up on the slide or climbing up on the structure and you're just “Oh, my gosh is he going to be okay? Is he going to fall down?” It's innate with us to be protective. However where is the line between being protective and being overprotective? The truth is no one in the whole world in all of the time of history has ever been a hundred percent happy and satisfied for long periods of time you may have moments but It's, just not how we are supposed to be a hundred percent happy a hundred percent, without some kind of struggle.
So when our children are struggling the best thing you can do for them is allow them to struggle. When you allow them to struggle do you like them to struggle a lot? And at what point do you intervene? When is allowing them to struggle too much going to be a bad thing? This all comes back to, too much of anything is a bad thing. So you want to allow your child to struggle or be unhappy because that's how they learn. People learn from making mistake. People learn from having that discomfort of failure or that discomfort of struggle. When things come very easy we're not really learning we're just accepting and going along with it. So learning comes from struggle and we want our kids to struggle. We need to try to be more comfortable allowing that struggle but you also don't want that struggle to go on so long that our kids get frustrated and become damaged.
Sometimes kids feel like nobody in the world. Is there to help them they have to solve every single problem on their own. That’s also not the greatest; so finding that balance between being okay seeing them struggle and helping them. We need to find that sweet spot and it sometimes it depends on the kid. Some kids have more resilience. Some kids are a little more sensitive and other kids are not so sensitive. Understanding what kind of kid we have will help you decide Where is that sweet spot.
Where's that spot where you are helping but also allowing them to struggle a little bit. So watching your kids struggle or be unhappy is a big parenting challenge.
When Your Child Says “I Hate You”
The second thing I want to discuss is establishing discipline; or more specifically hearing the “I hate you.” That is just heartbreaking for any parent and especially the first time we hear it. The parent that hears “I hate you” from their child and doesn't just have a heartbreak or some kind of feeling of failure or some kind of just awful terrible reaction is probably not being honest. It's not a good thing to hear it. It's a very strong statement and it's, really hurtful considering all of the work as parents that we put into raising our kids. So why does it happen? Some of the best kids out there end up blurting out “I hate you!” Well some of it’s hormonal; our kids are as they get into their pre-teens their hormones are getting all activated much earlier in life than previously. Sometimes they get impulsive. They get impatient. They get really frustrated quickly and that's when something like” I hate you” comes out. The “I hate you” sometimes is coming from a pattern of allowed disrespect. So we're allowing our children to disrespect us in small ways as they're growing older. Then for them to blurt out I hate, you comes a little bit easier. Now that doesn't mean that it’s the parents fault. Just be mindful of as you have younger kids that “I hate, you” is coming and if the more respect that you can develop between you and your child the less likely that you're going to hear “I hate you” or the more the easier It's going to be for you to discuss it. Sometimes saying “I hate you” is because the kids just don't feel like they're being heard and the only time that they get heard is when they get really loud and they get really big and they make big statements. What's a bigger statement than saying “I Hate You!” Prepare yourself for this kind of pushback. It’s also part of a kid’s development and growing up especially as an adolescent. When they're trying to figure out “Am I an adult? Am I still a kid?” Sometimes you’re a still technically a child but you want to be an adult and your kind of adult because you feel like it and you’re taking on more responsibility. But they’re kind of not so they're really trapped in between these two very different worlds and sometimes they get a lot of strength and a lot of adult fitness. I know that's not a word by saying something like I hate you so I hate you doesn't necessarily mean I hate you. I think that’s really good for everyone to know to prepare them for when it happens, because it will almost always happen. So far we’ve covered two of the four topics that people never talk about that make parenting really hard. We discussed watching your child struggle or be unhappy and we’ve also discussed I guess we’ll call it like establishing discipline or getting ready to hear the “I hate you. “
It’s Hard to Discipline Your Child
So now, the third thing I want to talk about is difficulty disciplining the child that you have. I know when I was a new mom or when I was pregnant, I had all these ideas about this is what my son's going to be like or oh, this is how he's going to he's going to do this and then I'm going to enroll him in these things that we're going to do this together and this is another editor My son came out and he was not exactly what I expected He, Didn't. Want a nurse He was a little bit stubborn He had a great personality and a beautiful smile and people love to give super cute then as he got older I thought because I did a lot of sports as a kid I thought Oh, my kids going to play soccer. I'm going to enroll in this we're going to. Do that and ages wasn't. Having it He is not into sports is not athletic and he It's not Super coordinated so it took some time for me to accept the back that Whoa It's. Not what I expected So at that point, I had a choice I current push my kid to be what I want him to be or I can kind of step back and say, Well what kind of kid do I have
This is especially hard when you find out that your child is A-typical meaning maybe they have a diagnosis of ADD, maybe they're on the autism spectrum, maybe they have dyslexia, maybe there's depression or anxiety or something going on, maybe you thought they were going to be musically inclined and they’re not interested or just don't have the talent for it. Same thing with maybe you math. You’re going to make sure of that they excel at math and for some reason it’s just not clicking so it’s important to always be mindful of the kid that you do have and how important the things that you expected to have are to you and your family. I don't know maybe you have a family of professional athletes and it’s very important to maintain that legacy of athletics and that kind of level of elite athletics. And maybe if your child is not like super into it and after sometime they end up getting super into it. You have to decide what's important and why and if It's worth trying to force your child to do what you want them to do instead of allowing them to do what they want. It can be quite challenging especially when you don't adjust your expectations. If you continue to have this expectation but then kind of tell yourself well I guess it’s okay but you still have the expectation. You're going to continue to be disappointed, frustrated, there's going to be a lot of arguing. It’s going to bring a lot of disharmony into your family, so take a look at the kid that you have and think about accepting that child for who they are and whether or not you need to change what's going on there or push for something that maybe they don't want.
Facing Judgement or Shaming While Parenting
Finally I want to talk about facing judgment or shame from others about things that your child may be doing I think this is probably worst when you're a first time parent and your kids, are released well for some reason when you go to like mommy and me, or you go to the Park or you're doing anything all anybody talks about is “Oh what milestones have your kids met yet? Is your child walking? My kid walked at six months.” Mine didn't. “My kids could read at a first grade level. My kid knows this many sight words” there's so much competition out there that It's really tough to have a child that is maybe not performing as well as somebody's kids which are more mature. As the child gets older It's also hard when you have a child that maybe acts out or is not so consistent in during their homework or gets into a little bit of trouble. Basing judgment or shame from others is really hard because you cannot control another person especially as your kids get older. They have more resources available to them meaning friends or cars or bike. You can't force them to do things. So being okay with accepting judgment or shame is something that we have to get used to and it's really hard now. As your kid gets older hopefully, you started developing a relationship where they're not making bad choices and they're not caught at school smoking, drinking, selling drugs or whatever. Because that is legitimate shame; you know your child is doing something that is against moral values, against cultural values, against the law; there should be some shame there.
I'm talking about the shame where maybe your son have a boy and he wants to wear pink a pink Tutu out to the Park or to the store. Are you okay with that? For some people that are incredibly difficult so related to what we talked about just a minute ago, accepting the child that you have. And accepting that child means that other people are not going to understand or they’re, not going to, get it and so they might judge. You might feel shame. You have to decide if that shame is reasonable or not reasonable and if you want to support your child in their choices or you want to mainstream them. Either way is fine. You get to make that choice as a parent but part of it is deciding how much or at what point judgment and shame is affecting you and the way you’re parenting in this way or is it the judgment and shame that your child is feeling? Your child might not be feeling any judgment or shame at all for going to Target in a pink tutu as a little boy. So then that's on you and you have to decide if that's worth it or not. Everyone's gotten a judgmental look at one point or another at the park, at the grocery store, at Target. And in everyone's mind is something like what's wrong with you? That's what we think the other people are thinking when you're getting the look. So what can you do to help yourself through those situations when you're feeling shame, when you feel embarrassed when you feel judged? You have to figure out how you want to do that have faith in yourself part of it is understanding that you know your kid and you know what's best for them. You know and they don't. You may be having a bad day and you just don't have enough energy in the tank to really parent the way that you like to you or that you're used to and that happens. Consider all the things that you do well and how no one ever sees that, or no one ever comments. No one ever notices and that is not always a bad thing. Shame keeps us on track. It makes us think about and consider what we're doing and if we want to continue doing it or not and sometimes our shame Can be managed because we're an adult for the sake of our kids. If you decide okay I can face shame, I can face judgment for the sake of my kids then how do we do that get support from friends and family, from professionals? It's, not easy to manage all of these things watching your kids struggle or be unhappy hearing I hate you, accepting the that the child you have is not the child that you’ve always wanted and facing judgment and shame was a really hard things
Back in the day parents would just discipline and make their kids, to the best of their ability, behave the way that they wanted. That just doesn't work like it used to. So you need support to help you decide how you want to maneuver through all this stuff. What you could do to calm your nervous system so you're not freaking out and you can allow your child to be the person that they are, stay mindful of your imperfection and the perfect imperfection of your child and be a role model. The acceptance of imperfection, model tolerance, appropriate tolerance, model proper communication, appropriate communication, create appropriate expectations and try hard to remind yourself of those expectations and don't be afraid to give tough love because often it is the best kind of love you can give. In the moment, it seems really hard. It might be painful but in the long run it’s going to teach you and your kids how to be a better person and a better adult.