I wasn’t raised in the best of homes. I was raised by a single mom who did the best she could with what she had. That generally meant that we didn’t have much and she wasn’t around much. My dad was often in and out of the picture depending on what was going on in his life. Because of this, I grew up with no standard of how a child should be raised. My normal was far from healthy. Fast forward many years and I find myself parenting two amazing children. It seems like every day I ask myself, “Am I messing up my kid?”
Am I messing up my kid?
I don’t feel like this every day. There are beautiful days where I look at them and have the highest hopes for them. I know that they will succeed and be amazing adults. Then there are the hard days. On those days I look at my little miracles and I am convinced that I have messed it all up. Surely, they will spend time in therapy because of me. I want to share a few things with you that help me get through the hard days. These are questions I have to ask myself, or on the bad days, these are questions my husband will ask me.
Do they know I love them?
At the end of the day, one of the most important things you can give your child is love. Do your children know that you love them? I am not talking about gifts or standards or any other checklist you have to rise to. I am simply referring to the core truth a child needs. When your child goes to sleep at night do they know that you love them and would do anything for them?
If the answer to this one is yes, everything else can be worked on. If the answer to this is no, what do you need to change so that your child will know without a doubt that you love them?
3 simple ways to show love on your hardest days.
- Find something you love about your child and make a point of telling them. So often we get caught in the hard stuff and forget to speak kindness and truth over our kids.
- Offer to hold them or spend time with them. Sometimes what your kids need most from you is to know that you will stop the world for a few minutes and give them your time. It doesn’t have to be long. It’s about quality not quantity.
- Tell them you love them! It seems simple but kids need to hear I love You. They need to hear you say it even if they know it on some level.
Did I listen?
Children speak non-stop. They ask a million questions and tell countless stories. However, there are the things that they say in passing that matter most. The other day my son said, “You don’t play with me anymore.” Now, I spent hours playing his video games with him and snuggling and tickling him.
However, in his little heart, he wanted to pull down all of his toys, sit down and play. At that moment I had a choice. Do I listen to his little voice asking me to play or do I dismiss him?
When your child makes a statement like this do you listen? Do you dismiss them because you are already doing too much?
For the record, I told him he had a choice. I said, “Mommy has plenty of time to spend with you. You wanted to play games together. Next time you want time with mommy turn off the game and we will play together.” Teach your child to ask for what they need most and you will help both of you.
3 Ways to Teach Kids to Ask for what they need
- Help them understand your schedule. By helping them to know that mom can’t play when she’s cooking or when she’s on the phone with friends, but she is able to play during certain other times, you are teaching them when they can approach you. They won’t always listen but with time they will learn they get more yes’s when they ask with your schedule in mind.
- Teach them HOW to ask. We had a lot of talks when mine were smaller about how my children asked for things. I said more than once, Do you like hanging out with mom when she’s cranky? “No, you’re just grumpy and it’s no fun.” I would then remind them that when they whined or cried for my time instead of asking for it, I felt the same way. I wasn’t taking away their value but they needed to know how they approach someone matters.
- Make sure you are a kind listener. It can be easy to get busy and give kids the impression that they are an inconvenience when something else is. Take a few seconds to answer their request with kindness.
Did I make time?
Some days can be really busy. When you settle into a routine it can be easy to do the same things you do every single day. The dishes in the sink are calling. The laundry is overtaking the bathroom. There are Math lessons that have to be learned. All of these things are important. They deserve the time they take to get done. In the same way that you schedule these items into your day, make time for your children. Plan out deliberate times when you are simply engaging with them.
3 Ways to schedule in time with your kids
- Have a nightly routine. Sometimes the days can be exhausting but having a special nightly routine can be a simple way to make that time with your child a priority.
- Set a timer and turn everything else off. You may not get one on one time with each child but you can make time to spend with your children with all technology and distractions cut off. It doesn’t have to be long but it can be deliberate.
- Take an honest look at what you prioritize. Does everything on your to-do list matter as much as it does in your head? Take some time and see if you are investing your time in good things while missing the best things.
Am I burdening them with my insecurities?
Sometimes when we have a difficult past we can bring our insecurities to the parenting table. This can be something such as letting your child eat too much or too often because you rarely had enough to eat or doing everything for your child because no one ever did for you. I have done this many times as a parent and even as a wife. However, it isn’t healthy for you or for your children. Speak with your spouse or a counselor about your insecurities. Don’t burden your children with them. There is healing in letting go of the past and choosing to parent in the here and now.
3 Ways not to burden children with your emotional baggage
- Be honest with yourself about your struggles. You don’t have to put on a brave face and pretend to be something you aren’t. Own your struggles so you can find ways to overcome them.
- Set clear boundaries. The best way to avoid hurting your children with your past is by setting clear boundaries before it becomes an issue instead of fixing things when it is too late.
- Know when to take a break. When you come from a difficult past it can be easy to try and stay in a situation to prove you can. Know when to excuse yourself to take a break. It’s better to take a break for 5 minutes so you can give your kids the best you you have to offer.
Did I control my anger?
I have a short fuse. I don’t mean to but there are days when I am easily annoyed and frustrated. It can be easy to fly off the handle because that is all I knew. However, that is not healthy for me or for my children. Each day this is a battle but it is one that can be won. I find myself praying often when I hit these moments. There are two ways to snap. You can either snap in anger and hurt your children or you can s.n.a.p. by using the acronym stop now and pray. One will bring pain. The other will bring peace.
3 tips to control your anger as a mom
- Decide which battles are worth it. As moms, we want to fight all of the battles and make our kids become amazing! However, some battles just aren’t worth it. Decide which things are worth letting go so you don’t spend the whole day in conflict.
- Look at what’s triggering your anger. Is it the behavior of your child or is there more to it? Looking at the root of the issue can help you to decide whether you need to let it go or address the core issue.
- Have an anger game plan. Your anger will get the best of you if you don’t have a game plan on dealing with. Sit and spend some time deciding how you as a mom will handle anger in your home before you get angry.
Each day will be a balance and it can feel like you are failing. Keep in mind, Vincent Van Gogh spent his entire life as an artist thinking that he failed. Yet, in our generation, he is one of the most talked-about artists who ever lived. You may not see the results of parenting for years but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Take time daily to work toward the things above and I believe your children will turn out better than you ever dreamed.