I’ve written enough posts about this topic that I’m sure everyone already knows, discipline is one of my worst areas as a parent. It always seems that no matter what I do, I’m just not cut out for this stuff. My daughter is strong willed. She’s challenging. I often find myself at a loss. I never would have thought that a three year old could reduce me to tears, but the truth is that it’s happened. And even though she’s five now, there are some days when I just don’t even know what to do.
One of the hardest things about my daughter, besides my being pretty well a child when I had her, is that she is a totally different person than I am. I can’t relate to her motives a lot of the time.
I keep coming up against issues that I don’t know how to fix. I know that patience isn’t my strong suit. I know that her exposure to other kids is going to result in some inherently poor habits that I don’t approve of.
Sometimes I feel like other parents have it all together. I get frustrated because she behaves so well out of the house, and I have read that that’s one of the best gauges of how you’re doing as a parent. When I reached out a few months ago to the school counselor for help with Abigail, everyone was surprised that I would do so. “I want to be proactive.” I told them. “I want to help Abby cope with her emotions before it’s too late.”
In the last few weeks I’ve been coming up against lying.
I don’t know where to go with lying. It’s obviously an undesirable trait. I have tried telling her about trust, stories about why lying is a poor choice… I’ve tried everything that I could think of on my own. This child was put here to challenge my thinking; to make me go beyond what I think I’m supposed to do.
These lies are not important; they’re trivial little things that don’t matter. But it’s obviously something I want to curb. So I called upon the power of the positive parent. I googled the answer.
The google tells me that children who lie are not immoral or trying to deceive their parents, which in all honesty is helpful to hear. I know that my daughter is a good person. She has a good heart. And these behaviours that she has trouble me mostly because I blame myself. After all, it’s my job to help mould her into a successful human. As it turns out? I’m flying completely blind. I’m so imperfect it kills me. I want to be better at everything that I do, but mostly… I want to be the parent who raises a conscientious child.
Children lie to keep the peace. They lie because they feel like their lies will make life easier for everyone. They lie to avoid being scolded, or feeling guilty for their choices. They lie when they feel unsafe, or cornered.
This information makes my heart hurt.
I’m realizing how badly I need help.
I could feel bad about making Abby feel like she needs to lie in order to make everyone happy. I could beat myself up about being a bad parent like I have over so many issues in the past, but instead I’ve decided to take a proactive approach by trying to change my behaviour. Something that I’m doing, as the mom, simply isn’t working.
I’m the adult in the situation. I can change the way I approach her to change the way she feels about questions.
What I’ve read from some different sources on positive parenting is that I need to rethink the way I’m talking to her. Instead of saying, “Abigail, have you cleaned your room?” and inviting her to answer in a way that she thinks is going to make me happy and avoid a fight, I can say to her, “I have noticed you’re not cleaning your room like you were asked, do you need help thinking of a good place to start?”
I know that this kind of switch is going to be hard for me to adjust to, but I’m willing to do what I can to make her feel safe and loved, no matter the answers that she gives.
Being a parent for me, has been one big exercise of eating humble pie after another. I feel like I’m flying blind 100% of the time. The thing of it is that there are many people who have flown before me, and those people have left trails of breadcrumbs to help me along. Each age group seems to push a new lesson in humility and in love onto me.
I had no idea what being a parent was going to be like before it started. You can’t even have a clue. Because there are people who are extremely intuitive about feelings and how their actions will cause children to react, but it seems I’m just not one of those people. I feel like I would do so much better if I could start again.
But then I look at my little girl. She’s sharp, clever, she has a thirst for learning. She loves to read and make people laugh. She loves animals and helping. She wants to make people feel good, in her heart.
Then I look at all the mistakes I’ve made over her five years on the earth, and I know that the things that I’ve done right have outnumbered those mistakes. I know that Abigail feels loved. She has never gone hungry. And that my emotional reaction to feeling like I’m coming up short as a parent? It’s just my way of telling myself that I can do better. I can be better for this little girl. I can create an environment for her in which she continues to flourish, even more than she’s already done.
I’m going to have my days, probably for the rest of my life, where I feel that I just suck at this parenting game. I’ll wonder if I made the right choices when faced with the hard stuff.
But I’ll never have to wonder about one thing; that little girl is making me a better person, every single day that she’s near me. And for that, I’m blessed.