Tag Archive for Single-parent

Parentology

Because of what I have done with Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures and the blog, I have a unique opportunity to speak to parents daily about the highs and lows of parenting.  I enjoy studying things parents do that work and ideas that I would scrap.  I call what I do parentology (No, this isn’t really a word).  Parentology is my study of parenting.

Most of the parents I talk to will not be met face to face but I value their opinions and sympathize with their issues.  One reoccurring theme lately has been their realization that they don’t always get the right answers while trying to parent.  It has led to some frustration in some parents because things don’t always work as planned.

It’s not possible for a parent to make the right move all the time with their child.  Mistakes are part of what makes us human.  The way I look at it is that mistakes should be accepted for the time being but worked on in order to not make the same type of mistake again. Being conscience of this has been a key to making me a better parent.

One sure way to work on correcting mistakes is by reflection.  Simply thinking about the problem at hand and pondering how it could have been handled differently is a big step. This tactic is great for single parents but it’s even better for parents who are married because you have a partner to bounce ideas off.  Parents who are single though can still seek out priests, counselors, and trusted friends to have virtually the same effect.

Now that I have given you a solution for when things do not go as planned while parenting; allow me to give you a solution I’ve seen used many times which fails miserably.  It’s called the “beat myself up until I am blue in the face” method.  This is when a parent convinces themselves of what a poor parent they are over a mistake they made and won’t let it go.

There’s nothing productive about this for you or the child.  A child needs to see you be a beacon of light- not wallowing in self pity because you can’t figure out how to make your child eat their peas.  Trust me, I’ve seen this (in many shapes and formats) many times.

Attaining perfection or even being close will never happen.  It’s like jumping as high as you can to touch the clouds and being disappointed when you miss.  The goal with parenting should be to accept your strengths and faults honestly.  From there, find the avenues to improve on your areas of weaknesses while maintaining the good qualities which make you special.  If you can find a way to do this, I promise you will be several steps ahead of a lot of parents.

My next post will come to you this Friday and my wife is going out of town for a couple of days.  Therefore, it will be just the boys and me together before I write to you again.  Why do I have the feeling there’s going to be a lot of blog material between now and then?  Best wishes!

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Dealing with Discouragement

I hope everyone is having a terrific Friday and is ready for the weekend.  Today, I’m attempting to take on a common problem.

I think it is safe to say that everyone feels discouraged from time to time while parenting.  It’s unavoidable.  While thinking about this topic, I was talking to a guy who is an excited father-to-be.  One thing he said that struck me was “I just don’t want to make any mistakes.”  Though I knew where he was coming from, I playfully replied, “That’s not going to happen.”

We all make mistakes and sometimes feel discouraged because of them.  Maybe you didn’t handle a discipline situation correctly with your child.  It could be you are discouraged because your son/daughter brought home a poor grade on a test after studying all week.  No matter the reason, understand the discouragement you feel can usually be turned around with some time and effort.

I’m not going to teach how to avoid discouragement when working with kids because that’s not realistic.  Rather, I want to talk about what’s worked for me when I get discouraged.  I hope one or more of these suggestions help.

Find Someone you Trust:  The first trick I use when I’m discouraged is to talk about it.  For people who don’t know, my youngest son has a speech delay that occasionally drives me bonkers.  I believe in the long run, he will be just fine.  But, I want the problem to be solved now.  When I get discouraged about the situation, I talk to my wife.  She gives great advice and helps me think things through clearly.

If you’re a single parent, find a friend, a member of the clergy, or a counselor.  Keeping discouraging feelings inside will (figuratively) eat you alive.  It will also cause you to be, in my opinion, a less effective parent.  That’s because it’s hard to bottle feelings forever.  Once pent up feelings start to emerge, they are like a dam which can not take the water pressure any longer.  Eventually, it will crack.

Set Goals:  Realize that whatever is discouraging you may not go away quickly.  It really helps me to write down short term and long term goals.  It also helps to write a plan for accomplishing them.

Here’s a story about a family I’ll never forget who exemplify this point.  Their son has a brain tumor which is inoperable.  If anyone has the right to be discouraged, they do!  But, when I talked to the mom she said that they take things one step at a time and keep praying.  This talk happened a couple of years ago as best I remember.  So far, their son is still alive and making his parents smile.  Can you imagine the time wasted if they spent every minute feeling discouraged?   They are making the best life they can for their child!

Keep a journal: In this journal, I’d like you to write only about the times when you do things which make a positive impact on your child.  This is different than a diary because a diary encompasses everything good and bad in your life.  Make sure you sign and date each entry.  You may be surprised to see how much good you actually do with your child.

From what I’ve seen and experienced, it’s the little victories that add up over time when raising a kid other parents would be proud to have.  When something goes wrong and you’re feeling a bit discouraged, read over your journal and realize the good things you are doing.

To wrap this up, understand that you are not the only one who gets discouraged.  Kids get discouraged as well.  Another reason to practice the solutions I gave is so you can teach them to your child during a time of need.  Keep working, fighting, and loving your kids.  I truly believe the bitterness you may feel from discouragement can be turned around if you channel your energy in a positive way.

Have a terrific weekend with your family and I’ll write to you again on Tuesday.  As usual, if you know a parent who would like this post, please pass it along.

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