Every single mom I know has asked herself at some point, “am I doing a good job?”
Sometimes the question goes more like, “omg am I screwing up my kid?”
If you have complete confidence in your parenting abilities then I suppose you can stop reading now. The rest of us will continue to read and overthink and go about our imperfect parenting business.
I was raised by a single mother. Things were tough for her as a widow and mother to two ADHD, unfocused and often annoying children. My mom yelled a lot. In fact, I am pretty sure I never heard my mother’s normal tone of voice until I moved out.
What I find interesting is that parents a generation ago did not spend as much time comparing themselves to each other. Oh sure, there were parenting books. But in general, parenting was not as researched and analyzed as it is today.
A generation ago they didn’t think as hard about parenting as we do, and they certainly didn’t critique each other’s parenting the way we do today. To be honest, I don’t judge other parents because I get how hard it is. I am a mom with ADHD, I know I am not perfect.Most of us are keenly aware of our parenting weaknesses. #adhdmom Click To Tweet
All you need to turn your parenting weaknesses into strengths is awareness and desire.
Turn your parenting weaknesses into strengths
If there is one thing that I hear all the time from moms it is that they want to stop yelling and screaming in the home. This behavior causes so much guilt and shame. I will admit I have raised my voice entirely too many times.
The hard part about controlling this is predicting when it is going to happen.
This is what I know: I tend to raise my voice when I feel like I am not being heard. Sometimes this is because of noise from my family and pets. Other times I sense that I am not being “heard” on an emotional level.
Solution: When you feel your pulse start to raise and your jaw clench up STOP. Let the chaos around you fade for a second before you respond. Take a second to control the tone and the words that come out of your mouth next.
If you do end up yelling, forgive yourself. It happens to everyone now and then.
Whining children are the worst. Whining children that came out of your body are the ultimate brand of torture. Do yourself a favor and mentally prepare and rehearse for how you will handle whining.
It is so easy to give in. If your child watches another television show, you get another 30 minutes of peace and quiet. I know how appealing this is.
But if you told your son he can only watch one television show and then he asks for another, you must stand firm.
Solution: Accept ahead of time that you are sometimes going to sacrifice your own desires in order to be taken seriously. If you repeatedly back down to whining, your children will start to think that they do not need to take you seriously when you set a boundary.
If you say 1 piece of candy, stick with one piece of candy. If you say “no”, keep saying no. Be kind but firm.
Children are confused when they cannot rely on their parents to create consistent ground rules and routines at home and in life. Our kids learn how to be consistent by watching us.
Consistency breeds a sense of security.
I will admit that I have trouble sticking to some of our family routines. For example, I like us to have dinner together each night around 6:15pm. If I get caught up in my work, I sometimes forget to warm up our meal until someone complains they are hungry.
But we still eat together every day. The family meal is the constant.
Solution: Create realistic routines that you can stick to. Flexibility is important, but make sure your children know you will have a family dinner every night together. Keep the routine itself is consistent, even if the time changes.
Do you ever have trouble giving your children a yes or no answer? Ummm…me too.
Waffling is what we do when we don’t want to just say no. We use qualifiers and say things like, “maybe if you do xyz.” This always gets us in trouble because our children see an opportunity to negotiate.
As you are likely aware, kids are really good (frighteningly good) at negotiating. My child can perseverate and ask questions and push and plead and harass until I am ready to run screaming out of the house. Children adopt this behavior because it works 90% of the time.
Solution: If your child asks you for something, or to do something and your first instinct is no, then just say no. Keep the tone of your voice measured and matter of fact. No doubt hearing your “no” will incite some complaining.
Your first instinct is usually the right one. Don’t end up kicking yourself or spending a half hour negotiating. Don’t qualify your answer, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.
Practice Reflective Listening
Reflective listening is a skill I first heard about in the book The Explosive Child which I reviewed. Check out Dr. Greene’s book Raising Human Beings for even more details about how to use listening with your kids.
This is how it works: Do your best to hear what your child is saying in the middle of a meltdown or tantrum. Try not to read too much into it, just listen. Then use the phrase, “I am hearing that you feel—“.
It’s that simple. Repeat back what you hear in your own words.
Solution: Stop living reactively when it comes to your children. Think back to the last few major fights that have happened in your home. What role did your behavior play in how it all went down?
Practice really listening and showing empathy. Our children need to see empathy in order to learn how to use it.
No matter how many parenting books we read, or how many parenting blogs we follow we all have weaknesses in our parenting. Some of these weaknesses are big things that need to be addressed, like learning how to manage our emotions.
Other things we can probably relax about. It’s important to maintain a sense of humor or we will go crazy. Nothing lasts forever, even our imperfections are changeable.
The more you aware you are of your weaknesses, the more likely you are to be able to change them. You can make it happen.
You got this mama!
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Would you be willing to share your parenting weaknesses?
Do you think we are harder on ourselves about parenting than our parents were?