Something I have been increasingly noticing lately is that I get annoyed with my children the most when things aren’t going my way. Let’s say we have to be out of the house at a certain time and I took too long getting dressed. When I try to rush R, she doesn’t exactly cooperate because naturally she has no concept of time or urgency yet. Suddenly I find myself fuming, threatening R with timeouts if she doesn’t do what I want her to, and pretty much have a bit of a temper tantrum.
The funny thing is that the bulk of our frustration as parents comes from what the child wants to do clashing with what the parent wants. Our children aren’t too difficult when they are young- they want to do things that are fun and that make them happy. Oh wait, that description can be applied to everyone, even adults…
My point is that we are all humans and we all have the same agenda, more or less. If my child doesn’t get what she wants, she gets frustrated. If I don’t get what I want, I get frustrated. I have thirty more years of frustration-management experience than my daughter has, which should make me almost an expert, right? But no, I still occasionally lose my temper and yell or do other undesirable things.
I overheard a mother a few weeks ago, speaking to her son. She said: “Listen and obey!” This really didn’t sit well with me. The more I have thought about it, the clearer it has become what bothered me about it. Our children are human beings, just like we are, with the exact same feelings. We tend to overrule their wishes and desires because they don’t fit into our own wants. The only reason we are able to do this is because we are stronger than them.
I hear the protests now- ‘But we are their parents! It is our job to teach them certain things and some of those things cause frustration!’ I absolutely agree. However, I urge you all to critically examine your parenting behaviors. When I look at my own, I see that I try to stop any kind of behavior in my child that I don’t want- not just the kind that is dangerous or for some reason unacceptable, but anything that gets on my nerves. For example, R is playing nicely by herself, drumming on something. I ask her to stop. She was in her own world, minding her own business, and there I am butting in. Because what she wants is not what I want in that moment.
In the future, I want my children to have more freedom to express themselves without my interrupting them. I am trying to work towards double checking my motives when correcting their behavior. Are they really doing something wrong or is that just not what I want right now? Maybe I can find a compromise that will make us both happy? I don’t know about you, but I’m more of a lover than a fighter. I much prefer having a harmonious environment in our house. And I’m getting tired of throwing tantrums.