A parent I’m working with inspired this week’s post.
It was a fairly typical worry; ‘I feel like I’m not doing a good enough job’ ; but our session turned this belief on its head.
Because when our child’s having a hard time, or giving us a hard time, it’s normal for us to ask ourselves ‘What’s making my child feel like this? Why do they behave this way?’
And when we think that it’s something we’ve done, or not done – which is very easy, because kids are pretty good at blaming us – we end up carting a big sack of ‘should do better’ guilt around with us.
I’m not saying never strive to ‘do better’, but pointing the finger of judgement in our own direction is usually pointless.
And just one of the (many!) reasons why is because, while falling down the ‘This is my fault, because…’ rabbit hole is far too easy, the truth is that whatever your child is going through in the moment may be completely unrelated to what you’re thinking.
For example, going back to the parent I’m working with, the behaviour of this particular child had recently become really unpredictable and confusing. He’d recently experienced a bereavement, and so the changes were all being attributed to that.
And that’s perfectly possible of course… But it’s not a guarantee.
It could also be because he’s approaching adolescence, when brain development takes several contradictory steps in different directions.
Or Covid-19 could be responsible; it has, after all, spent two years halting the childhoods that Mother Nature intended for our kids, and not one of them has escaped its impacts entirely.
And because we really don’t have anything comparative to draw on, who is anyone to know how we should expect children to respond to a global pandemic?
More often than not, the challenges our children present are a melting pot of triggers, of personality; even of diet and sleep; and untangling them is nigh on impossible.
That doesn’t mean don’t try to understand what’s going on; particular circumstances will certainly contribute to particular behaviours or attitudes, and if we can mitigate them, we should.
But what the parent of this child saw was her own failure through a child who was clingy, fragile, and lacking in confidence.
What I saw was a mum doing sterling job; raising a child who; while perhaps not asking in the most appropriate of ways; has the self-awareness to know he needed support, and exactly where to find it.
He was getting all that was required from his mum to keep his ego-strength in check as he moved through the turbulence of grief; everything that will bring his confidence and self-esteem back, when he’s good and ready.
So if you recognise yourself somewhere in this story, know that a less-than-100%-happy child is not a poor reflection on the job you’re doing.
This isn’t meant to sound patronising, and I’m sorry if it does, but the fact that you care whether you’re doing a decent job of parenting means you already are 💖
PS) We all come across challenges of ‘What do I do about…?’ occasionally, so if you want to know more about how I support parents, find out here.
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