It’s Not Me It’s You Too
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It’s Not Me It’s You Too

It’s Not Me It’s You...Too . No, I am not talking about the dreaded break up line used by millions to weasel out of a relationship. What I am talking about is the little known fact that when parents talk to parents of other families about challenges, the results are surprisingly comforting. Comforting in the sense that some of the more concerning problems that you might be experiencing in your own home, are playing out across the street as well. Be it the embodiment of misery loving company, or the fact that some of us take pleasure in seeing others struggling, I have discovered that I am not the helpless or incompetent parent that I think I am.

Conflicts ranging from homework, hygiene, diet, insolence and feeding the pets can cause temper tantrums, hissy fits and pouting. And that is just the parents. Many of us from this generation that are the product of parenting from the old school regime where open two-way dialogue, household democracy and the no hitting/spanking rule were fantasy, vowed at some point to parent completely differently than our parents did. The fact that history sometimes repeats itself despite the best of intentions is an entirely different topic, but the intentions are there and we are valiantly counting to ten, breathing deeply or taking a walk around the block when our little darlings push all the right buttons.

So why is it that we feel like it is only in our own homes that these recurring battles are raging? I will tell you why. Nobody is too keen to share that they are not in control of their children or that the loving and diplomatic approach of going head to head with a “tween” whose frontal cortex is not yet fully developed is blowing up in our faces. Whenever I see parents of my son, we exchange niceties and talk about all the great things and maybe touch, ever so briefly, on the fact that homework is not caught up, or that breakfast time is like a courtroom scene most mornings. I have yet to meet a parent that is on their soapbox saying, “I am a completely ineffectual parent!”

Then, something dawned on me. In the rare moments that one side started showing genuine vulnerability, past the fleeting comments that are exchanged at school pickups or other places where you have about one minute before the lifespan of the small talk expires, the story sounds eerily like your own. Sitting back and listening can reveal that whatever struggles you may be going through under your own roof, are not foreign to most of your frustrated counterparts. That said, nobody wants to hear you complain or vent to the point they try to avoid you at all costs, but there is something to be said for opening up just enough to invite a response in a safe place.

Nobody wants to be judged or criticized, so remember to extend the same courtesy that you would expect from your confidante. Just because you may have a few things mastered in the parenting arena, does not mean that it is cool to look down your nose at anyone else who may not have figured that particular piece out yet. There may not always be an answer to your frustration and it may well just serve as an outlet through which to vent and that is ok. What it most likely will provide you is a reminder that parenting is not beef jerky, cut and dried.

It is ok to stumble through some challenging times with your kids and as I have discovered, a lot of these challenges are transient. Give it a try next time the opportunity presents itself. Open yourself up and reveal your human side and see what reciprocal response you might elicit. You might just be surprised and find out that you are actually quite the rock star at this rearing humans thing. On the flip side, you might discover that you are further behind the pack than you would like to admit. Either way, it is copacetic.

Your parenting bar chart may look like an old picket fence; some boards tall and straight, others shorter, missing nails and rotted through ready to fall off. Still, that is true of the best of them on the PAC so you are not alone. What I take away from this is that just when I think I am being really hard on my kid for not being supremely compliant with doing homework, I am actually being really hard on myself. Give yourself a bit of break. Grab a coffee with a parenting peer and spill. You might just be a better parent than you think.


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