How to Celebrate the Wins
Parenting is one of the toughest jobs I’ll ever love.
From one day to the next it is a roller coaster kind of adventure with highs and lows, twists and turns that will sometimes make you travel through a corkscrew.
Anyone who ever says parenting is an easy job is a liar. The pay is low, and although the rewards are high, you’ll often work two or three jobs, be on call at all hours of the day and night and never get the thanks you deserve.
Still, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
See your kids as imperfect and wired for struggle.
Your kids will struggle. It’s that simple. If you don’t let them struggle as kids, then they will struggle in more significant ways as adults. Fixing everything for them as they go through life creates an adult who is not resilient enough to handle conflict.
Everyone knows there is conflict in the world. Even kids know this. They don’t always get along with neighbors friends or friends at school. To shelter them from working through conflict is to do them a disservice.
Learning how to deal with conflict is a life skill.
Love with your whole heart, even though there is no guarantee.
Love always. It’s hard if you’ve just had a run-in with their high emotions, but when they come back to reconcile it’s essential to let them know that you still love them and forgive them.
Tell them you love them, even if you don’t like their choices. On occasion I tell my kids:
I always love you even if I don’t like your choices right now.
Take time to calm down and regroup if you need too. If you need an adult time out, take it. Remove your self or your kids from the situation if it becomes too tense.
Send kids to a bedroom or another quiet place to think about their emotions and feelings before coming back together to talk about them.
Tricks to help during times of tension:
- motion changes emotion
- try understanding
- eat/have a snack
Go somewhere. You could go on a road trip, but it can be more simple than that. Get moving. Motion changes emotion and gives it a positive outlet. Change locations. Go outside and kick a ball. Find an activity to do together. Play a card game or board game. Color. You get the idea.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. We’re great storytellers and often tell ourselves lies, but if we try to understand the other person’s position we can open ourselves up to understanding. We’ve gotten good at asking the other person to tell me more. When we understand what we’ve done to the other person, even if we didn’t mean to do it, hearts soften, and understanding can be reached more quickly.
In parenting, nothing is 100% every time.
On occasion, we’ve had the girls write a story from the other’s perspective. It’s fun to see the ah-ha moment of realization that the other sibling isn’t the opponent she was initially thought to be.
During conversations it is helpful to use, “When you (fill in the blank), I feel (fill in the blank) language.
Eat. It took us a long time to learn that sometimes the kids were hungry. When blood sugar drops our kids get extra irritable. Sometimes this means having a special treat, but more often, it means having a healthy snack, or a change of perspective. When we’re eating, we can address issues in more positive ways.
Practice gratitude and joy.
Find a reason to be grateful. It is easy to be overtaken with negativity. During these times we have to force ourselves to change our mental focus. The other night one of my kids was stuck in a mode of complaining. We asked her to say one thing she was grateful for.
We pressed her until she named one thing she was happy about. When she focused on one thing she was glad about her whole disposition changed for the better.
Find one positive attribute about your child or children and focus on it, especially in times of turmoil.
Balance technology time
Technology, like many things, is both a blessing and a curse. It is an ongoing struggle to balance its use well. We’ve found our kids would be academically challenged at school if they didn’t have access to technology during class time. Being able to use technology at home is equally as important.
We have parental controls on their devices. When they want an app we get a notification to approve it. They get the ability to use electronics for school and educational purposes. Extra electronic time can be earned by doing household chores and/or balancing electronic learning with equal amounts of electronic playtime.
The apps they have are already pre-approved so, as parents, we have the comfort they are playing in areas we have allowed and don’t have to look over their shoulders constantly. We have a general rule that electronics are used out in the open, and we as parents, use our electronic devices in public places of the homes as well — no electronics in bedrooms or behind closed doors.
The online world has plenty of danger, so it is important to be cautious when allowing online and social media interaction.
Take care of yourself
Togetherness fosters connection, but it is equally important to disconnect. If you don’t respect yourself and your relationship with your partner, then the kids won’t respect it either.
You can’t give everyone everything all the time to the detriment of yourself. The resentment will come through. Respect yourself enough to regularly take time for doing something you enjoy. Give yourself time to nurture your soul so that you can continue to nurture them.
How will you nurture yourself so that you can continue to nurture the kids and the family?
Celebrate the occasion. That’s a win.
Your children are the greatest gift life will give you, and their souls the heaviest responsibility it will place in your hands. Take time with them, and teach them to have faith in themselves by being a person they can have faith in — a person who listens — a person they can trust without question. When you are old, nothing else you’ve done will have mattered as much. — Unknown
- WRITTEN BY Nicole Akers