Parenting: Leaning in when you want to run away.
Updated: Oct 15, 2019
There are so many parenting clichés, aren’t there? Some are there to help us remember to take each day in stride (“They’re only young once!”, “It’s just a phase!”), while others make it feel almost like a competition of sorts (“If you think this is bad, just wait until …!”).
The reality is that parenting is hard. Seemingly impossible at times. Investing in our children, teaching them and caring for them takes every ounce of energy.
A few weeks ago, my family and I were getting ready to leave the house. Per usual, my husband, son and I were ready and walking to the car, while my daughter was running around the house very much unprepared to leave, even after having many warnings ahead of time. She was yelling and upset, blaming us. This was not the first incident of the day, and my mommy patience was circling the drain.
In that moment, I was ready to clock out. I wanted a break. I wanted things to go my way! And as I stormed into the house ready to unleash my frustration on her, I instead found her sitting on the floor in tears. “Mommy”, she cried, “I just don’t know why I can’t seem to do things right on my own”. She was broken, frustrated by her behavior, by her inability to get her hair fixed the way she wanted, put her necklace on, and find her favorite shoes. She was trying desparately to do it and to please us, and just couldn’t.
Prior to that moment, all I wanted to do was run away. Punt the parenting duties to my spouse, and check out. And as I walked in and saw her on the floor, I was reminded that sometimes when our kids push us away with their mean words or actions and we are being pushed over the edge emotionally, we need to do the opposite of our instincts. we need to lean into them instead of running away. What my daughter needed in that moment was some extra understanding. Someone to sit down next to her and talk through her frustrations. Someone to truly hear what she was thinking and feeling and to help her sort through those emotions. All things I would have missed had I run away instead of leaning in.
We are broken and sinful and don’t always handle things correctly. Our children are broken and sinful AND lack the maturity to handle things correctly. What a pair this makes sometimes, right? So, exhausted parents, I encourage you to lean in this week. When things break down, invest extra time into your children. Find out what’s really going on, and help them work through their frustrations that they don’t yet know how to handle appropriately. Empathize with them. Cry with them. Teach them. I promise you won’t regret it.
Lauren Clark, MSW, LISW-S
HBH Associate Clinical Director
Below is a link to an article from the American Psychological Association on communication tips for parents. There are many good ideas on how to better connect.
“Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection … can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures. If you are having problems over an extended period of time, you might want to consider consulting with a mental health professional to find out how they can help.” – APA article below
Looking for more to read on this topic?
“Relax, frustrated parent. You are in Christ.”
“When Moms Get Angry”
“11 Ways To Help Your Child Cope With Frustration”