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Some mistakes that I make from time to time
I picked the boys up from school this afternoon, full of good intentions, certain that I would sit down with them as soon as we got home and we would get their biggest piece of homework out of the way. But we gathered around the table, and oh, they looked so hungry and tired. My will held firm however, and I took their coats away and prepared to get to work. But then, it happened. I spied my laptop underneath my pile of notebooks and pens, and my will crumbled into dust, instantly. 'Alright boys, I've decided to let you have a night off tonight, off you pop and watch a DVD, you've earned it,' I said. Isn't that just awful? I mean, I didn't lie, not at all: all three boys worked hard at school (and nursery) today, and they did indeed earn a rest. But dressing my weakness up as a reward for them is pretty low.
It led me to write this confession about my bad parenting (tongue in cheek, you understand; I actually think I'm a pretty good parent, but I do have some serious failings, which, unchecked could become detrimental to my children's development).
So here are a few tips born from some of the bad things that I do, and that I would encourage other parents to guard against.
- Hide things from yourself. As demonstrated in my little story above, the laptop is too easy a distraction to pick up, and if I had put it away in the drawer in my desk in my bedroom I would not be sitting here now writing a pointless hub. (I have furnished myself with the excuse that this hub is important, and that I am writing it for the greater good of parents the world over.) It is entirely too easy to get caught up on the computer, and to spend/waste hours flitting between various social networking sites and Twitching pages. If you are tempted to turn on the computer, because you have forgotten to put it out of sight, you should quickly pile the children into the garden if you have one, or out to the park, and you should play some footie with them or something (girls included; girls should definitely be playing football these days too.)
(Disclaimer I: Hubpages are a valuable use of your time, and you should never feel guilty for choosing them over your children. Your children, if they love you, will understand that they are not as important as Hubpages.)
- Don't take your bad moods/tiredness out on your kids. At times I do fully believe that our children make us tired on purpose, that our children keep us awake at night out of some sadistic desire to see us suffer, and they long for that suffering to grow and grow into a great big ball of exhausted angry flaminess. Well, this is probably true, in many cases. But in an equal number of families this is not so - some children are actually very nice. They don't mean to get poorly in the night, they don't mean to throw up all over their beds, they don't mean for their tonsils to inflame to the size of golf balls, or for their chicken pox to be so unbearably itchy so that they wriggle in their sleep all night and keep their siblings awake. (Some children do this on purpose, actively seek out germs so that they can torture their parents, of course. But some are innocent victims of the uncovered mouths of their school friends.) And so, as I was saying, don't take your tiredness out on them, even though it's their fault that you're knackered. You don't like it when they take their tiredness out on you, so show them the same respect that you would like to be shown.
- 'Stop shouting!' My goodness. How many times, as a parent, have you shouted those words? I saw a programme once, years ago, about a woman who lost her ability to shout (through some kind of illness) and she had to learn how to control her numerous children by some other means than shouting. I'm sure my children would dearly wish for me to lose my ability to shout, as I raise my voice far more than they do. But it just doesn't make sense to keep yelling at them does it? Well, we know that while we're doing it, but we carry on doing it anyway. And then we feel guilty, and the kids feel horrible, and it just ruins everyone's day. I've tried having days in which I do not shout, and I can tell you this - they are fantastic. Talking to my children is just wonderful, and I would recommend talking to yours, because you know what? Children are really very interesting, and actually very wise. Sometimes they can say very clever things, and oftentimes they can be very witty and make you laugh until you pee.
I don't really raise my voice more than my children do (see earlier posts for evidence of my lying nature) - I have three young boys, that would be impossible: I would be hoarse every day if I shouted as much as they do. But I do still shout at them far more than is necessary and particularly in the mornings, when through no fault of their own they are late setting off to school (it's always my fault for pressing the snooze button once or twice too often).
- If you're going to get yourself and your children some very bad and evil fast food, don't pretend it's a treat - be honest. It's laziness, and you are poisoning them. Now, I know this one might seem a bit harsh, and it's really none of my business what anyone else chooses to feed their children. I'm really putting this one in the list for myself, because I've been calling in to the drive-thru MaccyDs a little too often lately.
- Similarly, be honest about the treats in toy form that you keep putting in the trolley when you go shopping. Your little darlings can't have done anything marvellous enough to earn a toy every time open your purse/wallet. Honesty required again - are you buying the toys for the wee ones, or are you buying for yourself? Come on now, open up, tell the truth. Do your children really need to play with every single Playmobil set that's available? Do they really need to watch DVDs of all your favourite '80s cartoons? As my own mother used to say, presents are for Christmas (or whichever religion-based, present-giving tradition you follow) and birthdays only.
That's all I can think of at the moment. There are more bad things that I do, many of which I disguise as model parenting, and brag about to my friends. I will share them at a later date. But I have one more important thing to say: parents shouldn't take themselves too seriously, they should take leaves out of the books of their children and they should play!
(Disclaimer II: no judgements on any other parents have taken place in this hub. I am only criticising myself, specifically picking out silly things that I have done lately.)