So I have had to face something recently that I am not really proud of. I say those words, but then I add to myself what I learned in therapy many years ago, “It’s ok. We are all human. We all make mistakes. You are doing the best that you can.” What I am not really proud of is how I have slowly been letting my worry over Michael having an emotional or aggressive outburst cause me to give him chances when he has been acting up. The acting up has been more little testing her and there; rude language, minor emotional blowups, but I sat down last night and thought that I have been worried about him escalating to his aggressive point of a few months ago, and I have been unintentionally giving him the green light to be rude at times. I also have been giving up going out with friends when he would have trigger moments with Dad. I stayed home to defuse the tensions, and rightfully believed this was helpful. I realized it was not subconsciously, and last night decided that a little tiff between Michael and Dad would not stop me from going out. It almost did, but I told them to deal with it and I left. What helped me? I’d like to say it was all my own inner resolve, but as always, Michael gave me the push I needed when he said, “Mommy, you need to stay home. Daddy and I will not be fine.” The thing is he said it with a little smile on his face. Gotcha Mom! I’d been had for awhile. The lesson I learned is that being afraid of a reaction and putting the brakes on our children’s emotions, does not help any of us find better strategies and move forward. I was guilty of putting on the brakes.
Several friends have recently gently chided me for backing out on plans due to worries about how Michael will do. They were all so understanding about my situation of the last six months, so I thanked them, and told them they were right. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten that we teach our child how to treat us, how resilient they and we are by our actions, and that playing peacemaker and being afraid of conflict comes at a huge price to us and our children. We send the message, unintentionally, that we and they cannot cope. Going out with friends or alone sometimes also means parents are practicing self-care which helps them become stronger and able to see when old habits that are not healthy are slipping back in. Last week, I went for my seasonal Hamaan. Yes, I now go once a season. It’s an inexpensive way for me to relax and recharge my batteries in the saunas and whirlpools. I sometimes go with friends, but love going alone too. As a close friend once commented, that is when you can truly relax and unwind-when there is no one else to talk to. And I felt not an ounce of guilt that I was doing this for me. It took me a long time to get here-four years. There are still times I do feel guilty about taking care of me. It is a process, as they say, but I am getting there.
Exceptional Parents, what bad habits have you seen creeping back into your parenting-such as avoiding conflict and not prioritizing self-care? Don’t feel guilty. We all do it Moms and Dads. We all see our friends struggling and give them great advice that we don’t follow ourselves. Next time you find yourself slipping, try this trick when you start talking yourself out of your fear and not facing it; “What would I tell my friend to do in this situation?” Chances are it will be to stay calm, direct, honest and to take good care of your self so your patience is as strong as it can be. And if it isn’t in that moment, forgive yourself and learn for the future. You’ll get there. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with autism has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence towards their child.
For more information on my coaching services, see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparentingg.com, and for a free 30 minute exploration/consultation session contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” click on www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/EBOOKS.