Tuesday 6 August 2013

Sucky Parenting

(Goblin is nearly four)

Maybe I'm setting my sights to high. Maybe that's why I often feel so ashamed of the way I respond to my son when his behaviour is challenging. Maybe if I aspired to 'Waynetta Slob' standards of parenting I'd stop beating myself up quite as much. 

Recently I have had a couple of occasions when I have absolutely let rip and completely over reacted to a situation. If a friend or relative is with me, what they see is me going mental at my tiny little boy for doing what looks like a tiny minor infraction. What they haven't seen is the build up, that week leading up to this when we have had the same discussion over and over. 
Our most recent 'issue' revolves around listening - or more precisely not listening - to instructions. Basic life saving instructions like "stop at the edge of the road", or common decency instructions like "please don't hit me again". 
Hublet and I try to reinforce the desirable behaviour through modelling, explaining, distracting etc. You know, all the positive parenting methods that we are aiming to use. But by the weekend we are worn down from trying to remain calm and use the positive techniques without much success. 
Then it happens again. 
"Goblin please don't squirt that water pistol at your friend, she obviously doesn't like it" or "wait for us before you go into the shop".
And he doesn't stop or he doesn't wait and it's the straw. 
The last straw that breaks the camels back and let's out all the puss and bile, the fatigue and built up frustration and anger. It comes tumbling out in a torrent. And as I'm standing in the street grasping my child's arms, screaming in his face, I can see myself ... and I hate myself. 
I can see a bully being horrible to a small child who doesn't understand where all this venom has come from. I can see my friends thinking what on earth has got into her that she is responding like this to such a minor infraction. 
And the guilt makes me even more angry and unable to access that calm loving side that I needed to pull out to deal with this sensibly. So instead I seethe and boil and hate. And when I talk to my son I can hear the edge to my voice that makes it sharp and irritated, not kind and gentle and patient. And I despise myself for using that voice. 
And then I have shame. Shame that I treated my child like that; shame that my friends saw me overreact; shame that I claim to use positive parenting and yet find myself more and more frequently screaming and shouting and over reacting. 

And then we have a good day, and I remember that I do love being a parent. And Goblin still doesn't listen. But somehow I'm able to stay calm, and I don't have that edge in my voice, and I do respond with love and empathy.  

I need to focus on those days and try to tap into what makes them work. 

I'm sharing this at The Sunday Parenting Party. I'm currently taking a break from hosting so if you are looking to link up click on the button below.


  1. Oh goodness, i feel this way a lot too. You are doing a great job as a mommy!!!!!

  2. I'm going to print out your quote and stick it on my fridge...love it! I'm going through the same at the moment with my twins and know exactly what you mean...the guilt, the shame...but you know what? We are only human and parenting is a tough job...we know we love our kids and do the very best we can...and this developmental stage will pass soon, hang in there and keep remembering those good days, I shall be right there (virtually) with you xx

  3. Ah yes. My life in black and white at the moment. I've had and continue to have that internal critical voice on my own parenting. It comes from a place of love deep down but it is sometimes driven by fear. Fear that my son will continue to hit me and others. Fear that he'll never listen. Fear that he is turning into something monstrous. The fear usually hits home when I'm tired. When I actually need some time for myself. When I have been trying too hard to be the positive Mum. When I don't know how to communicate that it's not alright to hit, bite, spit and stay calm myself because oh boy it hurt. When I've left it too long to draw my own personal boundary. I also hear that tone in my voice and berate myself, knowing that when he is a teenager I'm likely to hear him talk to me in the same tone.

    When I can stop myself and look at him, look him in the eye, turn off my mental chatter it becomes much easier to bond. And I think the bulk of behaviour is about
    relationship. Relationship with my son and most importantly relationship with myself.

    Thanks for your honesty. I needed to read this today. And yes the love is overwhelming and yes the days it goes well are brilliant. But it is also refreshing to hear others say and be able to say yourself that sometimes our parenting is grim. And to learn to say that whilst this little person is only little and learning everyday, some of his behaviour is grim. And then learning to say: that's ok, this is a phase and it too shall pass. The love that is always there, will still be there at the end of even the grimmest day.

    Keep doing what you're doing x

  4. We've had this chat before, and you know that you're doing a good job. We all get cross and lose our patience sometimes, and don't forget that the boys at this age are testing the boundaries and pushing to see who's boss. I read a site the other day that said, 'no negotiation, no repetition!'; basically if you've said it once or twice and you know they've heard, don't keep repeating yourself just stop and ignore the action, or take the water pistol from them with no words - he will know why. I've tried it a few times, but it's flipping hard not to completely explode. I sent The Boy for time out to his room earlier this week because he'd been naughty; it worked a treat as well.

    No magic answers, no golden handbook. Just know you're not the only one in this boat.

  5. I think that just the fact that you can write and share this with us shows that you will find your positive parenting groove. Sometimes our little one's change it up a bit when they enter a new stage and it throws our footing a bit (a lot even!) but when we settle into their new growth we get back on track. We are there to support you The Monko, keep on sharing :)

  6. Monko, I think that every mom knows that feeling of reaching your breaking point and why you're flipping out over a minor problem. Today while I was fixing dinner, Bug kept coming in from the back yard and asking for food. We finally agreed on a GoGurt, but as soon as I opened it and handed it to him, he decided he wanted a different flavor and started to whine. I yelled, "OH MY GOD," and yelled out the back door to my husband, "CAN YOU PLEASE COME IN HERE AND GET HIM AWAY FROM ME?!?" You can imagine how bad I feel about it now. So it's not just you.


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