I don’t know any parent that thinks being a parent is a breeze. We all have challenges when raising our kids. All kids make mistakes, have life lessons to learn, and learn how to push our buttons. What do you do when parenting gets tough? What are some ways to cope and find gratitude through the difficult times?
1. Recognize that we have a tendency to magnify the bad stuff when we are emotional. It feels like whatever is happening in that moment is the worst possible thing that could happen. “My child is getting terrible grades and hates school. He’s probably going to drop out of high school and become a bum on the street. And I will have failed as a parent. And everyone will know.” This is more common for women because men can more easily compartmentalize and not dwell on things when they are busy with other stuff.
2. Be quick to forgive–yourself and others. We are going to make mistakes as parents, just like kids make mistakes as they are learning and growing. Don’t beat yourself up. You are human and fallible and that’s ok. When a mistake happens, realize it’s just a mistake. It does not define you. Grieve, feel what you need to feel, then let go and move forward.
3. Recognize that our current emotions affect how we view our past. Try not to over-analyze and live in a state of regret. Realize that you are probably viewing the negative things in the past through colored lenses that make it seem worse than it is. It can be a good thing to review the past and be reminded of what happened so we don’t repeat the same mistakes, but don’t wallow in it. Learn and move forward.
4. Work to accept the things you cannot change. Our kids will do things we don’t like and become who they want to be. We cannot force them to be what we want them to be. Love them for who they are. Show them you love them no matter what they do. It will bring peace to both of your hearts.
5. Try to fill your heart with gratitude and kindness to your children and others around you. When our hearts become “hate-free” zones, we feel better. Fill your heart with grateful thoughts, saying thank-you often. Gratitude opens doors in relationships and improves physical and emotional health.
6. When parenting gets tough, take time to work on your relationship with your children, separate from areas where you may be clashing and having difficulty. Build your connection by spending time doing fun things, talking about non-volatile subjects, and showing love. Let them find sympathetic ears from you, instead of feeling like they need to seek out friends that will listen to them.
7. “Parents are the emotional thermostat of the home. Kids often match the parents.” (Hank Smith). Try to keep your emotions under control when around your children. Step away and take a break, go on a walk, hide in your closet, whatever you need to do to let the strong emotions of anger or sadness out.
8. When you’re dwelling on the negative and having a hard time thinking about the good things about your child, make a list of their good qualities. Find things that you admire about them. Then notice those things more often and sincerely compliment them.
9. How can we be cheerful through the hard times? Focus on the positive. Try to find at least one good thing that can come from this experience you are having. Maybe it’s a life lesson. Maybe you can help others and have empathy. Maybe you met a friend during this time. Notice the good around you.
What have you done to cope when parenting gets tough? I’d love to hear your ideas!