– By Connie Jakab
This is a raw one for me to write today. So many heated emotions even as I sit to attempt to write something that sounds like I know what I’m doing, but the truth is I don’t. So many times I feel I have no control. Relate? Is this what parenting was supposed to feel like?
I never realized how much I actually love control until I had children. I catch myself wanting to edit the words that come out of their mouth or change what they are wearing, not for them, but for…. me. How does their speech and clothes make ME look? Its humbling to admit that I care too much what other people think. For example, just this week we were in the counsellors office where my youngest said some things that embarrassed me. That day after the appointment I noticed I was leaning more towards being an authoritarian. I was drifting away from the middle ground of “firm-but-kind” to “big-time-FIRM” to compensate for all I felt I was lacking as parent.
Seeking to control someone else, whether it be our partner, our children, or anyone else is never a good thing. The only person I can “control” is me. That being said, when it comes to parenting, I realize that I am responsible for these young ones and even though I don’t hammer submission into them, I also am responsible for creating space for my children to grow and make good decisions.
The way I work presently with my boys is through choice. One of my sons struggles with opposition, and so by giving him choice, it allows for him to have the control he desires over his decisions. That being said, there are consequences for when a poor choice is made and that’s when it all blows up. Standing firm and allowing my boys to experience the natural consequence their decision has made is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It would be so easy to give in, or make the consequence easier, especially when they send every ounce of their venom my direction. This is where “controlling ME” has to come in. I have to stay regulated despite their disregulation. When I fail to control myself, I fail to teach them how to have control over themselves.
To really have a grip on our children, means we need to have a grip on ourselves. I know that’s not what any parent wants to hear. We want to hear the “3 Guaranteed Steps To A Better Child”. Our children watch how we respond and copy. I have had many moments as a parent listening to my child explode and hearing my own voice.
The good news is that we CAN control ourselves. The one person you can change the most is you. Don’t hear what I’m not saying: I’m not saying your children don’t have things that need to change in them, but perhaps the way we model for them, or speak to them could really help them make that change rather than demanding it.
Here are some brave questions to help on the journey:
Listen to your child. Watch the way they respond. Can you see yourself?
2. Do you find yourself caring what others think about your parenting more than the actual act of parenting itself? (If you do, there’s no shame in that. You’re not alone!)
3. Think about how you can respond differently to situations you notice disregulate you. Make a plan and write it down. Change won’t happen overnight, but it does take intention.
4. Communicate with your children what you are working on. This will speak volumes to them about taking personal responsibility for our choices, reactions and words.
5. Don’t be hard on yourself. No one does this perfect. Give yourself grace to make mistakes. Remember, resilience is in the repair made, not in getting parenting perfect.