Friday, June 7, 2013

Parenting Ideas: Guilt

Sometimes guilt gets in my way. As a mom, I feel guilty about a myriad of (frequently conflicting) things, including:

Unhealthy food-- too often, dinner gets served without a vegetable. 

Too healthy food-- the kids tell me they don't want to have their friends over because we have "nothing good to eat". 
I don't pay enough attention-- I sat on my iPad today for two hours instead of playing with my 10-year-old daughter. Or talking to her. Or listening to her...
I pay too much attention-- I get involved in things my kids should be able to resolve for themselves, I step in and correct behavior too much, I remind them (aka: nagging) too much
I correct them too much-- I'm a stickler for grammer, spelling and pronunciation. I also have things I simply will not tolerate: name calling, physical violence, indoor screaming, laziness...

I don't correct them enough-- I know there are folks who hear my kids (especially my 3 teenage sons) use words like "sucks" or "crap" or "frickin'" and would think I shouldn't let them use such words. I agree... I'm a bad mom.
I make them do too many chores-- I have it on good authority (my kids') that they have WAY more chores than anyone they know. They have to do too much. It's horrible. I'm ruining their childhoods.
I don't have them do enough chores-- I also have it on good authority (same source) that our house is too embarrassingly messy to have friends over. Our house isn't gross, by the way, but it IS cluttered and carpet-stained. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart.
I'm not home enough-- I work full time (during the school year), and I'm not here to bake cookies and vacuum floors and organize the pantry and do the shopping or laundry. I try to be here when the kids are home, though. Frequently, however, I'm required to take people places and attend a myriad of activities, performances, etc., so I'm gone a lot. I'm also tired most of the time that I'm with them. Sadly. 
I'm around too much-- When I'm here, the kids don't get as many hours of video games, they actually are required to DO their chores before the games begin, my daughter is consistently reminded not to chew on her hair, people aren't allowed to just drop their belongings any old place, and dishes are required to be put in the sink... what a nag I am...
DUTY-- This is a biggie. I truly, deeply, sincerely believe that if a woman is blessed with motherhood, that (in parallel alignment with being a wife) becomes her highest calling, her most sacred duty, and her primary responsibility. Also because of some history with my own mother choosing to turn away from this duty, I have an inflated, fantasty-ish sense of what a "good" mother is. And I'm constantly guilt-ridden over not living up to my imagined sky-high standard of what I should be. I think I'm a good mom, but... 
I'm too serious
I don't exercise (bad example)
I watch too much TV/Movies
I eat junk food. I have a terrible sweet tooth.
I'm VERY forgetful

There are, of course, many other reasons parents feel guilty. I just wanted to say, if you're feeling guilty:
We all feel it. 

Also, you're probably not as bad as you think.

Things you're probably doing RIGHT:
  • Kids are fed, clothed and clean. Mostly.
  • Kids have a safe, secure place to live. 
  • Kids KNOW their mom/dad love them. Beyond a doubt.
  • Kids talk to parents because parents listen.
  • Kids get along together, most of the time.
  • No one in the house is allowed to bully another-- parents don't pick on kids, kids don't pick on each other, etc.
  • Kids don't get "in trouble" for accidents
  • Parents don't use violence or yell frequently
  • Kids smile and laugh a lot
  • Parents smile and laugh a lot
  • Kids are given responsibilities and behavioral expectations
  • Kids are free to express fear, sadness, or worry 
  • Kids are allowed to explore their OWN interests-- sports, music, mechanical aptitude, whatever, independent from their parents' favorite things
Sometimes, I suppose, I'm blinded by my own imperfections and assume that because I'm imperfect, I'm screwing up my kids and their futures are ruined. 

The truth is, they're people, too. They will make their own bad and good decisions. They will have misery, happiness, frustration, sadness, joy, disappointment and triumph. All on their own. If I've taught them how to handle the bad times well, I suppose I've done my job. 

So do the best you can. And if you think something wasn't up to your best, apologize, make a change and try again. 

THAT'S one of the best things we can teach our kids, right? 

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