We are pretty good parents.

Untitled by marymactavish
Untitled, a photo by marymactavish on Flickr.

In (agreed) response to Steve Wiens, the Actual Pastor’s, piece, “To parents of small children: Let me be the one who says it out loud

I thought I could be a much “better” parent than I am. I am thoroughly middle-aged, I have a degree in child development and prided myself (still do, I guess) on the very loving, developmentally appropriate way I taught preschool and the loving bonds I built with my kids.

But being a parent? Wow. That’s really hard. I’m not as good at parenting as I thought I would be.

I’ve seriously, profoundly yelled at Owen.

I’ve let him cry in his room while I took a time out. I’ve let him play in his room, alongside me, for two hours with a megapoo in his diaper because I didn’t want to wrestle with him and he was resisting a diaper change. I told him we could go out and play once he had a clean diaper. Then I yelled when it leaked.

Today he reached for my juice glass (we drink almost no juice here, but it was left over from his birthday party) and I offered him a sip if he didn’t pull the cup, and I held it. So I did. And he didn’t like it, so shoved it back at me carelessly, and it splashed onto the couch and ran under my butt, and I yelled. He learned a new word or two. I was so tired today, though.

I have a chronic illness, I am tireder than a lot of people when it’s flaring, and Owen is a really busy, busy boy whose naps are getting shorter and less reliable. When I’m tired, my attention span is shorter and my patience thinner. It’s not the best for parenting.

But here’s the thing:

MOST OF THE TIME I am very patient and understanding. All three of us — Casey, Audrey, and I — are loving, happy parents. We play with Owen. We don’t hit him when he makes mistakes when he’s frustrated and/or learning. We don’t hit him when we are frustrated and/or learning. We apologize for mistakes and blowups. We check in with him. We adore him, and play with him, and set appropriate limits. We spend a fair bit of time either directly interacting with him joyfully, or just peacefully watching him play, there when needed.

He’s truly happy and doing just fine. Because we do so well when we’re not doing poorly, because we’re pretty excellent when we’re not fair-to-middling, we’ve helped build a happy, resilient kid who doesn’t take offense or become scared when we get upset, who bounces back happily, who is compassionate and friendly with others. He’s a really good kid, and we are pretty good parents. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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4 thoughts on “We are pretty good parents.

  1. My therapist tells me that the most screwed up people are the ones who never got yelled at. Children *need* to see their parents get angry.

    Yelling sometimes is apparently part of the package. You are doing well.

  2. I’m okay with that, and/but it’s also important to me that I use it minimally, get appropriately stern without losing my cool as much as I can, and recover and apologize and find another way to cope with things as soon as I’m able.

    I want him to learn that skill, if possible. Getting angry is normal and people do it, but there’s a lot to be gained from learning to do so without having it become about the yelling.

  3. I have been not-very-proud of myself lately – I’ve been doing a LOT of yelling. Part of it was sick kiddo needing extra attention on top of a 5 month old with a wildly unpredictible sleeping schedule…all while going it alone as J had to be out of town for a class. It was a hard week. So I just need to take a deep breath, cut myself some slack & try again. Thanks for the reminder that it’s ok to do so.

  4. Awesome post. Parenting is what I like to call “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” I know, it’s from a US Marine ad. Marines are wimps compared to parents. Especially parents of toddlers, or teens, or special needs children, or parents who have chronic illnesses. I’ve been all of the above. I KNOW what you mean. And I, too, still feel guilty about the the one time I ever hit Kalen in her entire 12 years. It was horrible. I apologized for years. She had locked me out of the car on the side of the freeway and then spit in my face when I managed to get back in. But still.

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