Thursday, November 8, 2012

So Easy to be a Bad Parent

My husband has said to me before, "You know, it would be so easy to be a bad parent."  He's right, of course.  It would be so easy to let your anger get the best of you, clean-up their messes for them or put on the TV all day every day just so that you can get a break.  This week, I was tempted.

My husband has to travel for work every few months and my kids hate it when he is gone.  Because they are only 3 and 1, they aren't able to say, "I am sad about Daddy being gone so I am going to direct that negative feeling toward a positive activity like art or riding my bike."  Instead I hear a lot of, "NO!!!" and "WHY DID YOU GET ME THE THOMAS CUP I WANTED THE TOY STORY CUP!!"

I know exactly where this is coming from but it can be hard to keep my head up when the tantrums and intentional wrong doing come in rapid succession.  Today, my oldest peed on the side of the toilet rather than in it, yanked his brother off of his little fire truck (causing a lot of tears), gave his lunch to the dog and started crying big crocodile tears because I chose a blue top instead of a red top for his cup.  Meanwhile, my youngest was pushing a mini stroller and, when he would hit an obstacle, would fall down on the floor in a heap of tears and frustration.  This all happened in a 20 minute span and I was frazzled.  To be completely honest, I was angry.

I wanted to fly off the handle.  I wanted to run around screaming, throw things and slam doors.  But a little voice said to me, "Teach them."  Don't you hate that little voice sometimes?  But it was right.  I had to rise above my anger, find a reasonable way to release it and then move forward with helping them through their various states of angst.  I breathed deeply then gathered both of them up.  I said, "Mommy is very frustrated right now because of all the craziness.  I need a few minutes of you sitting quietly at the table reading then we can talk."

They sat together reading a recordable Pooh book (thank you, Aunt Gracie!!) and after I had calmed down, we talked about good ways to handle anger or frustration.  My oldest offered a few ideas, "Maybe I could jump on the bed!  I think my brother would like to color!" I felt myself relaxing back to a normal state and saw them do the same.  We trudged up the stairs to read for nap time feeling a bit better about each other.

It would have been easy to be a "bad parent" in that moment but it wouldn't have become a teachable moment.  I wouldn't have been able to tell them honestly that I get angry, too, but I love them through it. I wouldn't have been able to tell them that I understand how hard it is to do something positive instead of negative when you feel that way .  I hope and pray that that honesty will help them to learn more than me trying to act as if I am always perfect.

How do you fight off the urge to be a "bad parent?"

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