What am I doing?” I asked myself the other day. I have really been struggling with my oldest daughter and she painfully pointed out to me that she is struggling too. Sometimes I feel like a great mom, sometimes a good one, and this week I have to admit that I felt like a terrible mom.
It’s hard to always choose words carefully. I feel like lately, I spend more time focusing on the negative with my children than I do praising the positive. I am so set on squashing the less than desirable qualities that my children possess that I am unfortunately squashing some of their confidence in the process.
The truth is that we cannot always be great mothers; sometimes we make human mistakes. Getting back on track is key, and learning from my kids every day is what I do. It’s all about phases really, and some of them are soooo much easier than others. I’ve been going through one of the challenging phases with my oldest. After an emotional night of truthful communication, I realized that I have been making some mistakes. I have been so hard on her and focused on the things that she is not handling well in her complicated pre-tween life that I have forgotten to support her and compliment the many things she is good at.
I am big on discipline, but sometimes I forget to do it tenderly and right now in my daughter’s life she needs some TLC. It’s such a fine line, tough love and tenderness. I have walked both sides and often times experienced too much or too little. What I learned this past week is that messages can be seriously misunderstood in young minds, well any minds really. But the effects that they have on children can stay with them for life. My daughter was honest enough, and I was brave enough to ask her what she thought my opinion of her was. It was so far from my reality and so different than what I hoped she would hold inside herself. Truth is that her reality and mine were too different and we needed to meet somewhere in the middle. I also know from painful experience how manipulative children can be and how they can milk a moment for their best interest. But seeing my daughter insecure about tender issues, lacking self confidence, and needing more TLC broke my heart. I immediately took note in my deepest place, and made a commitment to change my style of dealing with her.
I have to admit that I felt super guilty and responsible for a bit, but I also know that parenting is a learning experience. Things that I do wrong I try to change and make right. Having a trustful, warm, honest and safe relationship with my children is so important to me. Being a mom more often than a friend is also crucial. I felt like I was giving too much negative feedback, and not enough positive feedback lately. I thought as a woman how bad it could feel if someone I loved criticized me every day, told me I was grumpy and yelled at me. I probably would not feel good about myself and be in a crappy mood. Imagine what that does to a kid?!? Pretty dangerous ground…
I have to stay on top of my children’s issues that aren’t acceptable, but I also have to make sure that I praise and compliment their wonderful qualities as much. Kids just need that. At least I know mine do and I need them to have a sense of self that is valuable.
This week I will be paying a lot of attention to all the great things about my daughter. I will tell her daily and hope that it’s infectious.
“Sometimes you don’t know whether to punish a child or hug him. If you punish him when he needed a hug, you’ve make a serious mistake. But if you hug him when perhaps you should have punished him, you’ve just brought some extra love in the world” – Tzvi Freeman, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth.