We all have bad days

Bad Day is not Bad Parenting

Do you remember that book Alexander and the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day? It is about Alexander and how everything in his day goes wrong. He can't catch a break. He wishes he could just move to Australia. At the end of the book his mother tells him, "Some days are like that."

Some days are like that. Sometimes a bad day is caused by a specific thing. Other times it is just a cascade of small inconveniences. You may be tired or stressed. Or your child slept horrible the night before. We often make it more difficult by thinking we should not be having a bad day.

We think If we are having a bad day, it means we are a bad parent. We also think if our child is having a bad day, we must have done something wrong in our parenting that our child is not in a good mood all the time. 

Having a bad day is part of life. You are going have days where your parenting is less then. Your normal ability to be patient or calm is just not there. And your child is going to have days where it seems they have forgotten everything you ever thought them. 

On these kind of days it is best to just moving. Move from one thing to the next without getting tripped up on how the day was suppose to go. Or if you have the time, join your child on the floor and have a good cry with them. You may be surprised how much better you feel. 

Bad days are not a reflection of your parenting. They are just a part of human life. 

Don't Fall In Love

One Way Loving

When we love someone, we have no expectation of getting love from them. When we are in love with someone, we have expectations of being loved back. 

Loving our children can be an instant kind of love or an attachment that builds over time. The love between a parent and child is its own kind of love and bond. But it is mostly a one way kind of love. 

Think about how you feel about your own parents compared to how you feel about your child. For me there is no comparison. The intensity of unconditional, fierce love I have with my children outshines just about everything. This love and bond is what drives us to care for our children even in their darkest moments. They need this kind of love from us. 

What we have to be careful of, is expecting this kind of love in return. This is what happens when we fall in love with our children. It sets up the expectation of getting that same kind of love and acceptance back. 

It is not the job of the child to unconditionally love the parent. They won't love you the same. It is not set up that way. They will love you, and love you deeply, especially if you understand and accept the inequality of this loving relationship.

Loving your children without being in love with them allows you to be the strong, caring parent. Your child will at some point say they don't love you. They say it out of frustration or anger. Do you love them in the moment they don't like you, or do you get mad at them for not loving you back? This is the ultimate test of your unconditional love. They need you to just love them.

Let Him Parent

They have their own way.

As new mothers we can be a bit overprotective of our babies. There is so much desire to get it right, we forget that most of the time we are just flying by the seat of our pants.  After a few days, or weeks, or months, we have figured a few things out that work for us. And we start to micro-manage our support. 

"No honey, hold her the other way."
"You have to get the wipes out first."
"Get to him faster."
"You're not doing it right!"

We nag and criticize our partners out of helping us. Every time they do something, they do it wrong. So better to stay out of the way, or just go sleep somewhere else.  A year goes by and we wonder why we are doing it all alone. 

The best thing you can do as a parent is to let your partner figure out what works for them. The relationship and care is going to be different. It needs to be different. If you find yourself wanting to step in simply say, "Let me know if you need anything." If you can't stay out of the mix, then you have to build in time to leave them alone. You complain about not getting enough alone time anyway, so leave your child with their other parent and get out. 

The bond they will have will be so much stronger. Your relationship will be more equitable. You will be happier. 

When things are scary

Fear is a Strong Deterrent.

As parents we want to protect our children. We want to protect them from both physical pain and psychological pain. The longer we can keep them in the bubble of no pain and sadness, the better we feel we have done our jobs.

As they get older and start to explore the world, some children are naturally more cautious; others are more daring. The job of keeping them from getting hurt gets more difficult. Yet protecting them from fear can make our jobs harder. 

When children are afraid of something, they don't do it. And there are things that we do to protect them, and they don't know why. Children don't know what will happen in a car accident, or if they fall from up high. Children don't know that hot things burn and they don't know sitting in a dirty diaper will cause diaper rash. 

Instilling some very realistic fear about situations that are genuinely scary, provides young children with the real, see it, feel it, information about why we need them to avoid certain situations. 

Show them pictures of rotten teeth to motivate them to brush their teeth. Let them watch a video of a car crash and see the test dummies fly out of the car. This makes it real for them, like it is for you. 

I know some parents worry about making their children more fearful. You, of course, have to keep your child's temperament in mind. But a timid child who is overly sheltered, stays timid. Slow, supported exposure is a way to help an anxious child gain tools for dealing with anxiety.

Focus on the TO DO

Tell them what you want.

Studies show that parents tell their children 18 negative statements to every 1 positive statement. One complaint I hear from many parents is that they are always saying, "No." This comes from a focus on telling our children what we don't want. Instead of telling your child everything they are doing wrong, show them how they can do it better. If you don't know what a better way would be, your child won't know either. 

Babies are Boring

Monotony is Mind Numbing

Having a new baby in your house is exhausting in many ways. In ways that are exactly the same, over and over and over. We love our babies, and we care for them. Yet, there is little, to no, metal stimulation. The lack of stimulation, mixed with the monotony makes the early months of parenting extremely boring. Then we think we are a bad parent, for not loving every minute of being a parent. Trust me, you are not the only one who is bored.

Don't get me wrong. There are many moments of pure joy and fascination. Just enough to keep us from running for the hills. You are a parent, dealing with a normal part of being a parent. in america, in the twenty first century. We can admit that taking care of a baby is often boring. 

Power of Disappointment

Get Sad Not Mad

When our children do things wrong we can often get angry. The problem is, anger causes us, and our children, to become defensive.  Once we put up our defenses, we dig in to our position. We don't want to change our thoughts or behaviors. When we disappoint someone, the driving reaction is usually, wanting to make them feel better. 
If we get angry, our child will push back. If we show sadness, our child will lean in. 

The Highest Vision

See the Goodness

One of the reasons we are so concerned about how our children behave, is because we are partly responsible for who our children become. When our child is having a hard time, we can let our vision of them become the worst possible outcome of who they will be. In those moments, if you hold the best version of your child in your mind, you will respond in a more confident and effective way.

Make it Easier

Ease the Way

When I am cooking, I like to do it with a drink (and not a glass of milk). When I have to drive a long way, I drink coffee and eat chocolate. I am not bribing myself to do these things. I have to do them. It is just so much easier to do them with a treat. 

Everyday we ask our children to do things that suck. Sit in a carseat, stay in the cart while we shop, get dressed, leave the park before they are ready. There is nothing wrong with making some of these, less than pleasant activities, easier. When we give our child an iPad so they will happily ride along on our errands, it is not bribing them. It is just easing the way. Their way, and yours.

Just a Moment

Let It Go

When our child is doing something wrong, we are compelled to correct them. That's the job of parenting. The problem is, if we correct everything, it is all we will ever do. You also send the message of doubt. Doubt in your child's ability to know what is right. Getting it wrong, just means they made a mistake. Like the 5 mistakes you made yesterday, or at least I did.

It is okay to let it go. You have corrected them before. You both know what they did was wrong.  Look at them and smile. Then move on. 
Avoid letting the mistake take hold of the entire moment. 

Safe to be Sad

Emotional Health Includes all Emotions

There seems to be a belief surrounding parenting that implies we are doing something wrong if our children have a negative emotion. This is the most false idea we could possibly have. We are the safe space for our children to fall apart. We want to help our children understand and accept the full range of normal emotions. When your children are having a negative emotion, instead of feeling like you are failing, take it is a compliment of your good parenting. 

Attention Getting Behaviors

What Annoys You, Gets Your Attention

The most basic attention getting behavior, crying, is also the most annoying. Hating the behavior is what drives us to act. Children learn quickly which behaviors pull our attention. If you want the annoying behaviors to stop, pay attention to the more subtle behaviors your child uses. 
If they do start those annoying behaviors, respond quickly. Meeting your child's needs, also stops the annoying behaviors.

 I challenge you to give it a try and report back.