When You Doubt Your Parenting Abilities

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of yelling. And my kids are the primary target. I didn’t even realize how much yelling I was doing until my son asked, “Mom, do you like yelling at me?”

Ouch.

Why do I yell?

I yell out of pure frustration. Frustration at repeating myself for the gazillionth time and having a premonition that I’ll be repeating myself again. Very soon.

Take cleaning up after themselves for example. I’m constantly reminding one to pick up his toys and the other to wipe up after cooking. Barking out orders like a dog at the arrival of the mailman.

One day I opened my mouth to bark, but to my surprise, my daughter cleaned up the scrambled eggs aftermath without me saying a word. And she did a great job! On another occasion I was about to bark at my son, but hesitated deciding to wait. Low and behold he put everything away without my saying a word. Wow.

Too often I don’t allow them the opportunity to show me they’re more responsible. I’m too busy jumping in wanting it done instantly. Instead, I need to pause and let them do it on their time. Within reason of course.

I yell because I’m stressed and overwhelmed juggling multiple obligations. Acting as career woman, personal assistant, chef, and chauffeur. And of course I crazily try to pursue my own interests when I can.

I yell because sometimes I’m tired of adulting.

I yell because I fear that I’m not a good parent because I can’t give them everything. At times only the bare minimum. And I feel guilty about it. I hate telling them it will have to wait or maybe someday knowing someday may never arrive. I’m afraid I’m disappointing them. 

I feel guilty for not being “perfect”.

Can you relate?

So I yell because let’s face it, I’m overwhelmed, out of control, and put too my pressure on myself. I have completely lost it. I seriously need a timeout.

Here’s how it all came to a head.

The other day the lens popped out of my daughter’s glasses and I couldn’t get it back in. It was the week before school started. I immediately did a run down of our calendar and when we could possibly fit in a trip to the eye doctor among soccer games, practices, lessons, and meetings. The list of activities and appointments scrolled through my head like a computer reading code.

I was getting overwhelmed trying to fit one more thing into the next few days.

“I’m not sure when we’ll be able to have these fixed,” I mentioned distracted as I squinted at the calendar.

“Great!” My daughter exclaimed irritated. “Now I’ll have to wait months before I can see again! Great start to the school year,” she muttered under her breath as she sulked into her room.

I instantly got offended that she felt her basic necessities weren’t a priority to me. So I exploded. “Unbelievable! I’m sorry that I can’t drop everything on a dime to get your glasses fixed! You’re not the only one in this house! We have to balance everyone’s life and I’m trying to do the best that I can.” (Not one of my better parenting moments.) As I stood there with fire shooting from my eyes and smoke billowing out of my ears, her words sink in extinguishing my temper. “Wait. Why do you think it will take months to get them fixed?”

“Because earlier you said we had to have an eye exam before we could replace these glasses.”

Oh. Yet again we’re on two different tracks of the mind. “Not to pop the lenses back in,” I reply.

“Oh.”

Here’s a little basic communication tips so that you can avoid the tantrum I just had. Stop. Listen. Don’t assume. Don’t jump to conclusions. And most importantly don’t leap to yelling.

Confession

I yell because for all the justifications and reasons why I yell, what it really comes down to is that I’m afraid that if my kids don’t do well it means I failed as a parent.

I worry I haven’t done enough for them. I worry I won’t have taught them everything they need to know. What if I missed something? What if I messed it all up?

Do you ever worry about this?

Truth is every parent has fears. We’re constantly doubting ourselves and our abilities.

There’s no instruction manual for this parenting thing. Closest one I ever found was Jo Frost’s Supernanny. Shame it only applies to kids birth to age 6.

The reality is my kids will fail sometimes. Just as I fail sometimes. However, it is a learning opportunity and not a reflection of me as a parent or person. We can’t be afraid of them failing. It’s important to allow them to fail and then be there to help them reflect on the experience and learn from it.

We’ve been placed in our child’s life because we are the best person to help them navigate life. It was no accident. No mistake.

So I’ve decided to make a greater effort to yell less and be quiet more. To listen more. To pause more. I will provide more opportunities for them to be responsible. And I will try to loosen my controlling tendencies and allow more independence, within reason, and be supportive if it doesn’t quite work out the way they planned.

In a society living in a facade of perfectionism, it’s hard not to second guess our abilities. It’s okay to doubt ourselves. What’s important is that we don’t buy into the false narratives.

Remember, we’re each doing the best we can with the experiences and resources we have.

Our kids are too.

Annihilate a Rotten Attitude with One Punch

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash whaaat boy

Attitude.

Rolling of the eyes. Heavy sighs. The blank stares as if a total idiot is speaking to them.

And it started at age 10.

I don’t know about you, but when someone dishes out attitude towards me, I take it personally. I feel disrespected. And when I feel disrespected I get angry. Like blood boiling angry. The kind of angry that if you don’t leave this second, you won’t see the light of day angry.

I’m not just offended. I’m hurt and doubting my abilities as a parent. If my 10 year old is disrespecting me already, what am I going to do when she’s 16? Or 18? I start believing that I screwed up somewhere along the way and have now raised an ungrateful child!

Let’s face it, it’s a blow to my ego. Pure and simple. I’ve been thrown off my pedestal by my child and left to rot. Unneeded and unwanted. It hurts! My precious baby no longer looks up to me and adores me. I’ve gone from idol to, dare I say, human. I’m no longer the center of her world; just an annoying adult.

So I lash out. She lashes back. And so begins the battle of the wills. The fight to the death to be right. The stubborn refusal to acknowledge the other person may actually be right.

Fights continue, erupting over minor things. And over nothing!

Soon you start to avoid each other just to avoid arguing. A day turns into a week. Then a month. Until one day you wake up and realize that you don’t have a relationship with your child anymore.

Stubbornness and egos are deadly weapons.

Let’s face it, we pour our lives and our souls into loving and raising our children with the hope that they’ll become amazing adults. But as my daughter becomes more independent, I get scared. Because as she gets older, I can’t protect her like I could when she was little. I’m no longer her only influencer. She will be influenced by others and she has her own personality. It doesn’t matter how hard I tried or if I did everything right in parenting her. So I have to trust that I did the best that I could and pray to God she chooses well.

So one day I tried something different. I was vulnerable.

It started with the usual eye rolling and then the battle began. In the midst of this battle, I paused. “When you give me attitude, I feel disrespected,” I confessed. “It hurts that you may not respect me.”

Her eyes widened. “It does?” She was stunned at the sudden shift.

“Yes.” I took a deep breath slowly exhaling. “In my mind it means that you don’t value me. That you don’t think I’m worthwhile as a person.”

She paused, considering my words. “I don’t think that at all, mom. I just get really frustrated when you treat me like a little kid.”

I forget that right now, at this point in her life, she is overflowing with her own self-doubt, worry, and anxiety. Yet she so badly wants to be grown up. Throw in the wondrous joys of puberty and I’d be throwing attitude around too!

By being vulnerable I showed her that I can be hurt too and also provided an opportunity for us to see each other’s perspectives. It’s easy to forget that perception is based on experience and we all have different experiences. My perception was based on my own experiences so it was very different than hers.

So how do you annihilate a rotten attitude with one punch? Be vulnerable.

Next time you get into a battle of wills, take a step back. Be vulnerable. See what happens when you reveal your perspective.

So tell me. How do you deal with your child’s attitude? Share in the comments.