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Whatever happened to ‘children should be seen and not heard’?!

Being a parent is so much harder than I ever expected.  You think you have mastered it with child number 1 only to find that child number 2 requires a completely different approach.

If you are lucky and I am, lots of people tell you that your children are ‘wonderful and a credit to you’ but what does that actually mean when you are staring at the mess they call bedrooms and when they are answering you back (shouting) in private!  My children can behave like angels or like proverbial monsters.  A few years ago that would have really worried me, I would have thought I was somehow failing.  Now I am more relaxed about it and just grateful that they know how to behave in public!  My self-worth is no longer tied into their behaviour (most of the time).

Recently child number 2 decided she wanted to scream and shout instead of unpacking the dishwasher, tidying her room and eating lunch nicely.  I must admit at first I gave into the temptation to shout back before pulling myself back and asking the question, ‘Why is she behaving like this?’  I know my daughter loves me and wants to please me so overt disobedience is not usually a major problem.  So I asked her, “What is really going on?”

Photo of a kitten peering through the undergrowth expressing vulnerability of children in big wide world

Being the adult in the middle of an argument with your daughter – that’s growth, that’s essential!

Out came a long list of childhood dilemmas:

  • Girl x has fallen out with me and is talking about me and I worry she will make my life hell at school
  • Girl y doesn’t like the fact I now have a boyfriend and has said it is him or her!
  • We are going to an amusement park with school soon and I worry that I will not go on any of the rides because of my fear of heights and it will be embarrassing
  •  We are having a talk on puberty and it scares me
  • I am leaving primary school this year for high school and I don’t want to, I love my current school

When I heard all the things she had bottled up inside her 11-year-old self, my heart bled for her.  It is such a difficult age and I think with girls in particular it can be such a tightrope walk maintaining wide friendship groups and special relationships.  Best friends (BFFs) one minute, heart-broken the next.  For a child everything seems so immediate, so large, so in your face.  Children often struggle to see the big picture which is just normal and I need to make more allowance for that.  As a parent it is too easy to dismiss my child’s experiences as trivial in the grand scheme of things when at 11 they can seem completely overwhelming.  Thankfully, that day I managed to behave like an adult and step back to find out what was really going on and give her love, hugs and reassurance.  Now if only I could manage that every day!

Photo of a kitten newly woken up staring out at you from a huddle of blankets

A gentle answer deflects anger and is a tree of life (Proverbs 15)

© Michelle Sherlock  © Looking4GodToday.wordpress.com

 

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5 thoughts on “Being the adult

  1. It was great reading this post, this was the way I felt when my son turned 12, just a few months before he turned 12 he was much kinder and all hugs then one night he turned into this grumbling, sarcastic teenager. He still the same, somewhat, not as bad as it was, I just hope he grows up to be independent and strong minded.

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    • Thank you, it’s good to know I am not alone. I think with kids we are sometimes guilty of only noticing their extremes of behaviour and missing all the times they are good in-between. I had a lovely day in Chester with her the other day and she was a fabulous mirror in the school play (Snow White and the 7 Jockeys). She just has 3 days left at primary school before she’s off for the summer which reminds me I need to talk to my mother in law about the summer childcare arrangements…. Not firmed up the details yet, just the principle!

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  2. Thank you Gloria, my hope is that she grows up strong, courageous, compassionate and that she owns her feelings. At times she is so assertive I could easily see her as a future Prime Minister although currently she is more interested in teaching. I have to keep reminding myself it took me until I was about 30 to develop diplomacy skills and therefore to give her a chance!

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  3. Great blog. We need more adult parents than are currently evident. Thank you for realizing something must be going on, and actually listening to you daughter, and then validating her feelings. She’ll grow up knowing her feelings are okay and not be intimidated by people who try to tell he they are not. Thank You.

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