Last week, a woman we’ll call Amanda sent me a Facebook message entitled “Parenting sucks!” The first question was, “Steve, what do you do when your parenting sucks?” The message went on to say, “I love my kids, but I get so angry at them. I’m fine one minute, and then I just EXPLODE! I’ve tried so many tips to try to stop yelling, but they don’t seem to work. I seem to get angry super-fast and without a lot of notice. Lately, I toss and turn at night wondering if I’m ruining my kids or just raising them to hate me. Help!”
What to do when your parenting sucks?
I don’t need to tell you to ditch the guilt, apologize to your kiddos, and then find the courage to forgive yourself. You’ve been there, done that! Some of you, however, are saying to yourself, “But Steve, I’m a hot mess. My parenting really DOES suck! I AM Amanda! I get so frustrated with my kiddos that I lose it and feel bad afterward.”
Well, Amanda… if you’re like the rest of us in those moments, you head to the freezer to connect with your two therapists—Ben and Jerry. Next, you find yourself sitting on the couch and eating ice cream right out of the carton.
Thankfully, there IS a better way.
It’s time to find the courage to shake off the funk, connect with your kids better, and start 2018 with a clean slate. As a parent, therapist, college professor, and minister raising two rambunctious boys with his wife of 23 years, my experience has taught me a huge lesson about being “Amanda.” For starters, you are completely normal if you …
- Fear screwing up your kids
- Worry about being there when they need you most
- Wonder if they’ll hate you as teenagers
- Worry if they’ll rebel one day
- Wonder (every day) if you’re doing a good job
What do you do when your parenting sucks?
The answer might surprise you: don’t be normal. Let me say that again: don’t be normal. With the new year just around the corner, it’s time to leave “normal” behind. It’s time to consider how to become an effective parent so your worries stop driving the way you parent each day. It’s time to get the clarity and confidence you need to calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids—and still nurture a family that thrives when your kiddos meltdown or refuse to listen. Leaving normal behind starts with asking a different set of questions:
How do you become an effective parent when your parenting sucks?
You are on a voyage called parenthood. If you want to avoid feeling like your parenting sucks, you don’t need to stand in the face of temptation, clench your fists, tighten your jaw, and then refuse to lose it when your kiddos act out. You don’t need more willpower.
What you need is clarity. As a careful traveler, it’s time to anticipate the pitfalls and obstacles to your progress before the trip begins so you can pack well and leave prepared to deal with difficult situations. One of the best ways I know how to make myself do things I find difficult is to slow down and plan ahead. If you can relate to Amanda, it’s time to clarify your destination—where you are going.
Acknowledge where you are
Amanda’s struggle was not poor parenting skills. She was caught up in her busy life and never took the time she needed to clarify her destination. As a result, her parenting sucked because she had lousy, unstated goals. After our discussion, Amanda learned that her goal was to survive and “just get through the day.” If you are anything like Amanda, your goal might be to get kids to behave and be respectful. For others, your goal might be to keep kids happy, safe and protected. No matter your goals as a parent, rest assured… they ARE affecting YOUR journey. That’s why Amanda sent me a Facebook message! Her unintentional goal drove her straight down Survival Lane where she lived each day.
It’s time to develop a clear plan about how to become and remain an effective parent in 2018. The first step in developing that plan is to “Begin with the end in mind.” The late Yogi Berra said it best: “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” Amanda ended up somewhere else—and her parenting sucked!
Start with a simple question
I know you’re busy, so I’ll keep this brief. Since you can relate to Amanda, you need a parental goal that is simple and easy to follow. So here’s a goal that comes in the form of a powerful question. Asking this question is a sure-fire way to get out of survival mode and put you on a journey of success in 2018:
- “How do I help my child become a responsible adult?”
Asking this simple, yet powerful question will help you anticipate the pitfalls and obstacles to your child’s progress in any situation. This question will help lead, guide, and direct your actions throughout your day. It will open your mind and heart up to new possibilities—like putting your needs in front of your kiddos (more about that in the next newsletter). If you let it, this simple question will shift the course of your parenting and help create a better future, in advance.
Ask that question every day
When you ask, “How do I help my child become a responsible adult?” it has the power to change the way you listen to, communicate with, and discipline your child in any situation. It will help you discover new ways to stop the whining and backtalk so your children will respect you more, bond with you, and help you reclaim your family harmony.
A Point to Ponder
Studies show that each day you face 5 major tasks as a parent. When you become skillful in each of these areas, it will lower your anxiety, focus your attention, and help create the ideal conditions for your family to grow! So, try to read my blog each week. Share it with your friends because one of my goals in 2018 is to help:
- Sharpen your self-care skills
- Equip you to be emotionally accepting
- Educate you about age-appropriate expectations
- Develop discipline strategies that are more relational
- Stimulate 2-way communication that’s filled with warmth and empathy
In the meantime, remember this: You may fear you’re ruining your kids and that your parenting sucks. But there’s hope. By asking different questions, you can trade the Ben n Jerry and sleepless nights in for a happier parenting journey!
Author: Steve Cuffari For many, Steve Cuffari is the mentor that parents call on to make their parenting style warmer, easier and more affective. He is the founder of inTouch Parenting, a company devoted to helping today's parents calm the chaos, raise emotionally intelligent kids, and nurture families that thrive. read more about Steve Cuffari here...