Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Time to be the grown-up

Years ago I read the Australian parenting book 'Parenting Inc.' by Terri Hardwick (2005).  It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law and I found it very helpful at the time.

However, I can actually only remember one idea from the book, which is not uncommon for me.  I glean a few ideas from a book and then add them to the collection in my brain.  Probably indicates something about the capacity of my brain at any given time, rather than the quality of the book!

The idea was that as a parent you have to recognise that you are the ADULT in the parent-child relationship.  Now you really are thinking 'How dumb is this woman? Isn't that obvious?!'

Of course it's obvious but I have spent many moments in my parenting life feeling angry or frustrated or hurt because my child hasn't done what I wanted them to do.  I take it personally.  'Doesn't she (the 18 month old) understand how bad my day has been?' or 'Can't he (3yo) just stop throwing temper tantrums?  It is wrecking my life'.

Suddenly it would become all about me.  And suddenly I would be the one yelling and screaming and getting angry because things weren't going my way (hello - I'd call that a tantrum!).  Suddenly there's screaming from the child matched  by screaming from mum. It just escalates and escalates.  Scary for the child, scary for the mum and scary for any innocent by-standers!  Not pretty.

This book helpfully reminded me that as a parent, you have put those tantrums aside and act like a grown-up.  Be endlessly patient.  Be disciplining fairly.  Be kind.  Be creative when you have no energy.  Have sympathy when they fall over and cry (AGAIN...).  In fact - act in the way that you want them to behave.  And it does work.  However ...

... except for today!  My youngest did not sleep this afternoon, I didn't get a break from her, she was grumpy all afternoon, I was grumpy and by dinner time everything she did was highly irritating.  Throw into the mix a few other children who suddenly became very annoying just by their very presence (the innocent by-standers!) and we were in a bad place.

So I'm just quietly reminding myself tonight - 'Jenny, time to be the grown-up'.  Hope tomorrow is better!

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