I have a confession: I have gone from zero to angry in sixty seconds. I’m not the calm, peaceful parent I want to be. I have gone from zero to angry in sixty seconds. I’m a work in progress. And lately we’ve been having a lot of days where my total lack of perfection is painfully obvious. Sometimes, I can’t even see calm on the horizon.
For months now, I’ve been trying to solve my parenting problems by using different discipline techniques and by rearranging my house. I set up a snacks cupboard where the kids could access it, so that I wouldn’t have to constantly prepare snacks for them. That didn’t work, because then they only wanted to eat snacks 24/7. I put the majority of our books in storage because I was tired of seeing them scattered all over the floor, but the books are still all over the floor because now the kids are searching for “that one book that we used to have” (which is never any of the books on the shelf). I use respectful boundaries, but they don’t solve my frustration.
No matter what I tried, the problem remained. They still manage to frustrate me to no end, and I still get angry.
Recently I came to a realization: it’s not their behaviour, it’s my mindset. Let’s look at the things that seriously frustrate me: I feel angry when they make messes that they don’t clean up, when they dump out all their toys because they just want the box, when they don’t want to eat what I cooked, when they don’t tell me what’s wrong and cry inconsolably instead.
When I look at each scenario objectively, everything makes a bit more sense. After all, if I look at their huge mess and think, “how am I supposed to clean all this up? It’s impossible!” — how overwhelmed must they feel? Why did I put so many toys out that they were able to make such a mess in the first place? If they just wanted the box, why didn’t I just give them an empty box? And to be honest, I’m not the best role model for cleaning up either. I don’t put away my dishes right after using them. I leave clothes all over the floor of my room just like they do. I admit it, I am a slob.
But I am a slob who is trying to change. My attempts to de-slobify myself have been ongoing for years. It’s not something that happens overnight. So why do I expect it to happen for the kids before I count to three?
The more I think about it, the more I come to this realization:
All the things my kids do that make me angry are things that I do myself and want to change.
I was never the best eater growing up either. I took forever to fall asleep at night, and still do. And when I’m really upset, my husband will attest that I have a very hard time finding any words suitable to express why.
I need to work on myself before expecting perfection from my children. We as humans expect the best from everyone else while also expecting them to overlook all our faults. What a heavy burden to lay on a child.
How many parent-child relationships are suffering, solely because the parent in question hasn’t acknowledged their own flaws? We all act like children sometimes. Our test of humility is whether we will admit it, and allow ourselves to grow, or deny it and stagnate.