Do you ever feel like have no idea what you’re doing as a parent? Have you thought, hey, shouldn’t there have been a test before I took this baby home from the hospital? Oh, good. So glad I’m not the only one. Everyone doubts their parenting sometimes. No one has this parenting thing all figured out. We were watching Ralph Breaks the Internet the other day. There is this part at the end where two of the characters are saying what the secret to parenting is. While they are saying this, it becomes really loud so you can’t hear what they’re saying. I found this part of the movie very relatable. There is no secret to parenting. What works for some kids doesn’t work for other kids. Even children in the same family have different needs, or different things that work for them.
Different parents have different strengths. One of my strengths is reading to my son and teaching him through play. One of Dan’s strengths is cooking or baking with him. If you feel someone is better at a certain aspect of parenting than you, that doesn’t mean they’re a better parent than you. We all have strengths. We all have weaknesses. One thing every child needs is love. If you love your children and you show them you love them, you are a good parent. I think it is important to show our children we’re not perfect. If they think we’re perfect, they will try to be perfect; then they will be discouraged because this is impossible. You don’t need to be a perfect parent; you just need to be a loving one.
I definitely thought being patient and empathetic were two of my strengths. However; parenting a toddler has tested these quite a bit. I hate being late; it stresses me out. It gives me anxiety. I worry the people who I’m meeting with will think I don’t care about them. Of course, toddler timing is much different than adult timing. It can be hard to be patient with your child when you are stressing out about being late. Although, I have gotten a little more used to this. I am not as anxious as I used to be about being late. Also, if the other people have kids, especially young ones, they are normally pretty understanding. M.J. has also started wanting to use toilet paper after he goes to the bathroom. He has been using way too much. It is hard for me to have patience when he doesn’t listen. “Kid, don’t you know there’s a toilet paper shortage?” Most of the time, he doesn’t even wipe himself, he just takes the toilet paper off the roll and puts it in the toilet. It is difficult to be patient in this situation. I also feel like I am a pretty empathetic person, but it can be hard to show empathy to M.J. sometimes. Sometimes, I feel like he is just being a brat. Of course, he has started doing things to test me, but sometimes he doesn’t understand why he can’t have his way. I know I have felt like this, too. It is just harder for young children to deal with their feelings.
Another big thing I struggle with is being consistent. Pretty much any parenting or child development book will tell you that children need consistency. This is very difficult for me. Dan does not have a regular 9 to 5 job. Sometimes he’s home at dinner time and sometimes he’s not. Last night, I tried to make M.J. eat dinner at the table with me, but he didn’t want to. I felt guilty that I had been letting him eat his dinner in front of the TV so much. I disciplined him because he wasn’t being a good listener for dinner time, but then I wondered if I should because we don’t always eat dinner at the table. I also know it is important to be consistent with discipline, but it can be so hard when you’re with your child all day long. After the first 10 timeouts for the same thing, I will just think, just do whatever you want, just stay away from me. I have talked with my therapist about my struggle with consistency a lot. She told me life isn’t consistent; all parents struggle with consistency. Being consistent is the goal, but it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m sure many parents are struggling with being consistent during these times. This is okay. Remember to have grace with yourself.
I also sometimes feel guilty for wanting time away from my son. He is so clingy lately and I’m not able to have that much time away from him. I will feel guilty that I let him watch a lot of TV so I don’t have to play with him. It’s okay to want time to yourself. If it’s not possible for you to get out of the house right now, don’t feel bad for letting your kids watch a few movies. Kids love movies anyway. At least mine does. Remember, no parents have it all figured out. We are all just learning as we go. You’re a good mom. You’re a good dad. Remember to have grace with yourself.