Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fighting Words

Today was one of those painful parenting days.  The ones where each of your children seem determined to reject every effort you expend on their behalf.  Where everyone is grumpy.  Where your oldest child tell you he hates you and you can tell it's just to see how you'll react.  So you don't react but it still hurts your feelings, because no amount of maturity can make words that are intended to hurt not hurt at all.

Sir O's self portrait made during #ldsconf today. Guess he's a cougar fan? #vscocam #vscocam_kids

And when your nearly 7-year-old says he hates you over something like being told to join the family for dinner, or being asked where his school reading book is, you begin to imagine the conflicts that could arise when someday you tell him he has a curfew.  Then you start wanting to hyperventilate and hide under your bed.

But instead you put on your stoic face, let him know you can see right through his bold attempts to flabbergast you, and refuse to reward him with drama.  You remind him that those are not nice things to say and that you hope he'd never say them to anyone else.  Because if he ever does that, you know you'll somehow be held accountable for it.

That's the part of parenting that I just don't get.  Our wacky Western society seems to want parents to have their children "under control" at all times.  Is this even possible?  Is it desirable?  Sometimes the worst part of being a parent is being accountable for the idiotic, cruel, and stupid things that my kids do.  I'm a generally benevolent person, and it's exasperating to feel the weight of my kids' dumb decisions.  As though if I were just a "good enough" parent my kids would behave like responsible adults.  Very few healthy, normally developing kids have ever behaved like responsible adults for more than 2 minutes at a time.  Some kids are out of control, and some kids are out of control because of poor parenting, but let's not have that be our default assumption.  World, knock it off and be nice to parents.

A few kind and supportive words go a long way, especially for a parent striving to demystify each of their kids.  I feel like each one of them is a Maniac McGee-grade knot that takes tremendous time and focus to unravel.  Dealing with dirty looks and smug bystanders while the knot itself throws insults at you is not a recipe for peak performance.

So, the takeaway?  Next time you see a struggling parent say something nice.  Or even supportive.  
And tell my kids to be nice to me. This gig has some thoroughly thankless days.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Feel you here too. My almost 8 year old does the same. "You're the meanest person ever. I don't like you" at the top oh his lungs. I catch myself wanting to react but the controlled parent in me says, "I know who I am, and I am not unkind or mean. You can attempt to hurt me over your angry feelings but it doesn't hurt me because I know my Father loves me and knows I'm doing my best". He thought about it and humbly said "I knew you would say that" followed by a huge hug! Kudos to you and your ability to avoid drama!!!

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