The Parent Trip – Frustrated Words

Parenting is hard. Sometimes, when you least expect it, it can kick you right in the teeth.

  • Jan. 20, 2015 2:00 p.m.

By Shelby Cain

Parenting is hard. Sometimes, when you least expect it, it can kick you right in the teeth.

I went to visit a friend this week and found her at her computer Googling for help while tears streamed down her face. Like every person who has ever been a parent, she’d said some things to her child in a moment of frustration that she regretted.

In hindsight, she should have taken some extra time to breathe and explain to her child why she was frustrated. That would have been the perfect thing to do. But who’s perfect?

I think we’re all doing the best we can. We have good days. We have bad days. We have getting kicked in the teeth days. For me, the tough times usually come whenever we’re attempting to get out the door or into bed. For some reason, as soon as you start trying to herd them anywhere, kids suddenly find 300 things they have to tend to before they can commence with brushing their teeth or putting on their boots. It doesn’t matter if they’ve spent the last two hours shuffling around aimlessly and telling you they’re excruciatingly bored. Suddenly, stuff needs to get done.

So at these times the right course of action, according to all the parenting sites on Google, is to breathe deeply, get down to your child’s level and explain to them that free time is over and it is now time to focus on the task at hand. Have you ever tried that? Yes. That’s why you’re laughing. I laughed too. Sometimes it seems like the only way to create urgency is to use your special ‘business tone,’ reserved for times when you need people to jump to attention. Mine still scares even me a bit, but it works. They jump.

The problem is the second you close their bedroom door or drop them off at school you are instantly plagued with guilt that hangs on you like heavy chains for the rest of the day. Nobody wants to play the role of prison warden. We want to send our children off to sleep or into the world with love and kind words. I think most of the time we accomplish this. For some reason, the times when we’re less than our best stick with us way longer.

But here’s a cool thing about kids, at least young kids. I can’t tell you what happens once they get past six…yet.  Ready? Kids don’t hold grudges. Apparently grudge holding is a less-than-wonderful skill we learn later in life. So if you have a bad moment, tell your child you’re sorry, you’ll do better next time. They’ll forgive you. Then you have to forgive yourself, because trust me, you deserve it.