I am not the perfect mom. I fall short at certain moments, every single day. Often times, especially these days with my progressing pregnancy, I am just too tired and run out of patience. Being a parent is not easy. Kids require a lot. They need undivided attention, they need to be engaged, need to feel loved and cared for and their basic needs for nurturing and nutrition has to be met every day. As parents, it is our role to make sure these are met.
For me, being a mom/parent was something I had to learn from scratch, since my siblings and I were not raised by our parents. In many ways we felt robbed of our childhood because we dealt with feelings of rejection, often feeling unloved, unwanted, etc. which led to a host of other insecurities. What helped to mend a potential broken relationship with our parents were love and honour for them, and forgiveness. There were many things that we did not understand, but in order to move on we had to take the responsibility of learning from the lessons that life had given us.
I have learnt that we don’t have to be perfect parents in order to be good parents. The most important thing is that we try. A little bit of effort goes a long way in the eyes of a child. It can feel like an uphill battle when we devote ourselves to our kids, try to do everything right, and they don’t behave the way we expect them to. When they are screaming at the top of their lungs or having a tantrum, it is easy to get frustrated. Nothing drains one’s energy as fast as trying to reason with an inconsolable toddler. I watched a Podcast recently to gain some parenting insights and took with me some helpful advice.
“We need to be ok even when our kids are not.” Just because they are throwing a fit, doesn’t mean we have to get all worked up over it. I put this into practice this week and I felt complete liberty. We don’t have to get mad and frustrated just because our toddler is. It was a freeing experience. In fact, I think they took notice. They were able to calm down sooner (than usual) because I was calm. As for the tantrums I was unable to tame, I decided to give them time and let them settle it on their own, unaffected. It was great!
There is no one size fits all formula that will result in the right behaviour. We have to stay cool and try to find some understanding. Just like us, they need to express themselves and feel free to do so. They need to know that we are there for them no matter what they are going through. Instead of scolding them for their ‘misbehaviours’, we need to help them get through it and have compassion. When they see that their feelings matter and we care about what they are going through, it gains their trust and this is the basis for a healthy relationship – understanding, compassion and trust.
There are little things we can do to invest in our kids that don’t require much. Reading is one of them and the benefits last a lifetime. For example, kids who are read to tend to develop a love for reading and learning, and it can foster creativity. It also helps with language attainment and development which can lead to them becoming better speakers. Plus, it’s a special way to bond and show that you care about them. Playing with our kids is also very important. Take them to the playground, to the library, or go outside and throw a ball. Another great way to spend quality time is simply sitting down on the floor with them to build blocks or a puzzle or get involved in an activity of their choice. These little acts are important to kids, and can become fond childhood memories that set them up for a better future.
Healthy relationships with parents or primary caretakers are building blocks for a healthy life outcome. Whatever children learn at home, they take with them out into the world. We are their main teachers whether we are aware of it or not. They are constantly learning, and mainly from our examples; the way we deal with problems, how we interact with them, how we speak to others or about others, how we handle obstacles and react to different situations etc. Kids keep a, “mental inventory” and this sets the stage for how they react to situations and deal with problems. So it is important that we become aware of what we are teaching our kids and the messages we are sending.
We live in an age where there is an abundance of resources available; we have no excuse to be unfit parents. I am not going to deny that having a lack of parental involvement was hard. It has affected me in many ways as a parent. I don’t always get things right. I often fall short and sometimes I feel like I don’t know if what I am doing is going to produce the best results. However, I do not let the excuse that, “my parents were not there for me” affect my ability to be there for my kids. Instead, I keep trying to do the best that I can. There are many parenting books, online articles, and Podcasts out there for us. I try to take as much as I can from these resources, learn from observation, interacting with and asking other parents. Learning how to be a good parent takes effort, it is a constant work in progress, and there is always room for improvement. For those of us that have had a tough childhood, we have to try a lot harder to not make the same mistakes that our caretakers have. In order to do so, being proactive and forgiving are the keys.