LIGHTEN UP- STOP BEING A SUPER PARENT
In this age of super-parenting, there is pressure to speak ‘lovey-dovey’ to your children ALL THE TIME. We are supposed to give them choices, and allow them to emote and we are to endure ALL sorts of self-expression, right? Maybe not….
Here’s how I see it-I am the mom. I am in charge and I am as patient as I can possibly be in that moment. I try my best to give reasonable choices when it is appropriate and not to be a yeller… but I am also a human and it is important for my children to see me that way. I refuse to speak sweetly all the time. When they are pushing my buttons, and annoying me, I think it is okay to show it.
Also, I speak to them in a normal tone of voice. They are people and deserved to be treated as such. When I observe an adult speaking in that babyish, sing song-y tone to children, it makes me cringe a little bit. Do you trust someone who alters their voice and personality just for you? I don’t.
Let your voice reflect how you feel about a situation. When your small child is acting out they are begging for limits. Set them clearly and firmly. Don’t be a sweet and nervous or pretend you don’t notice and then wait until you get to the safety of your car where you lose your temper, start screaming at your child and perhaps crying yourself. Your child is learning to read social cues from YOU. Especially when they are small, your children reference you to figure out how to read a situation. If you are acting all sweet and sappy in public and holding it all in until you lose your mind, what are you teaching them??
I give you permission to be real with your child. Even your small child. They bit you? Say OW firmly and mean it. Are they doing something you don’t like such as pulling your hair? Don’t laugh and call them silly. Tell them that it hurts and that you want them to stop. It is OK to say, “I don’t like that.” We want them to speak up for themselves, right? This is how they learn.
We need to stop complicating everything for the sake of looking like an unflappable super mom. That super-mom does not exist.
Speak kindly and truthfully to your children. Be firm and set limits when appropriate. Do not tell them they are silly and then giggle if what you really mean is that you are embarrassed and you wish they’d stop lifting your dress in the supermarket. They won’t be able to decode your complicated message.
I feel anxious when I see a mom speaking timidly to her tantrum-ing toddler. She is eyeing the crowds around her and trying on her best “mothering phrases” that she read in a viral Facebook post about how to speak kindly to your toddler. She is worried about being judged by other moms if her snacks are not organic and her words are not sugar coated. That crap needs to stop. No one wins. It helps neither the child, nor the parent. Our children are supposed to have tantrums. They need to push back. If your kid is fighting you about leaving the park and you are still leaving, you are doing a GREAT job.
I hold no judgement towards the parents and teachers who are constantly spinning their wheels to say the exact right thing, to present the most beautiful looking project or meal, or to skillfully bribe their child out of the park without a tantrum. We are all being conditioned to act this way. It scares me. We are forgetting how to parent with our own instincts. We are foregoing simple, face to face interactions for complicated craft projects and mandarin lessons. We are getting so burned out making things look and sound perfect that we are not seeing the true beauty right in front of our eyes. It is SO much more important to have the strength and energy to look our child in the face and read a book together than it is to run yourself ragged between a zillion activities while cooking the perfect meal and providing service with a smile at all times. Looking and acting like a perfect parent sounds exhausting and miserable. It serves no one, especially not our children.
Do yourself and your child a favor and BE REAL. BE WHO YOU ARE. Try your best to be patient and to speak kindly, but also, be firm and clear when you need to. Your child will thank you. Your parenting life will be easier and so much more fulfilling.