Debunking the Myths
Parents today are fed images of what a good mother, father and family looks like in the media. From TV shows to advertising – most of the families portrayed are all glowing pink and smiling. Family interactions are often seen as joyful and relaxed and parents are wise. There is little or no serious conflict, and children display mostly conforming behaviour.
Well at my place and for most of the families I see in my clinic life looks more like an episode of ‘The Middle’ (well maybe not that bad … but certainly a variation on the theme). So I thought I might debunk some myths and list five things that parents struggle with and are reluctant to share:
1. I don’t like my child
I have never heard a parent say this without them averting their eyes and crying. Many feel that it is the absolute worst thing they could possibly think and they seem to want to confess it to someone.
When our kids say and do things that we find really challenging it is normal to feel that we do not like what they are saying or doing. This does evoke negative feelings within us. I try to help parents reframe what they are saying to “there are times when I struggle with my relationship with my child because they are very challenging”. Remember that these feelings usually pass once our children do something positive (this is about the same time as the guilty feelings arrive about the thought that they don’t like their child!!!)
2. I yell at my kids
We are parents not robots. Life is tough sometimes, work and family demands can feel overwhelming and so sometimes we show our humanness and we yell. Is yelling good? Is it bad? Well I think it is just something that happens sometimes. I am always surprised when mothers tell me they feel like failures because they have lost their temper with their kids. I’m not advocating yelling at your children, but we are human too and sometimes we have a short fuse. Once you’re done yelling try to have some self-compassion and remind yourself that you are doing your best.
3. Why isn’t my child ‘gifted?’
This has become an increasing concern for me, not that some children are indeed gifted, but the feeling of failure when ours are not. Whatever happened to ‘ordinary’ kids? Not all children can compete and win, or be an amazing musician. They might have a hard time just getting the work done on time and making it legible. They might not be the most popular or outgoing. It is so important to teach your kids self-acceptance. It’s okay for them to be who they are. I am really concerned about the pressure on kids to be ‘exceptional’.
4. Why can’t he be more like his sister?
Many parents think this but comparing our kids is a bit futile. I don’t think that comparing is a bad thing (he likes rugby and she likes ballet) – but I think sometimes it’s not a comparison it’s a judgment and usually not a pleasant one (she is so kind and he is plain mean). Please be careful when you tell one of your children that you wish they were more like another- it is likely to invoke anger in that child and it could possibly cause issues with the sibling relationship. All kids are different – each has something unique to offer – search for the positive in each of your children.
5. Dad isn’t soft, kind or empathetic enough with the kids
Moms worry about their partner’s relationship with the children. I often hear that he’s too harsh, will not bend and is not fair with the kids. Thing is he’s not supposed to parent just like you, he’s a dad not a mom. Dads will often say “she doesn’t trust me with the kids’ or ‘she is always telling me I’m doing it wrong’. Dads bring something different and great to our kid’s life experience. Different isnt bad, it’s just different – so please let them do it there way – they love them too.
I hope you felt this blog was helpful if you did why not share it with a friend … until next time