How to be a respectful parent without losing your sh*t? Well, I don’t have the answer to that, but read on if you would like to get a little closer to the answer.
First, I’ll open with this TikTok gold that a lot of us can relate to:
Second, I’m going to explain the difference between respectful parenting and permissive parenting. Respectful parenting gets a bad rep because it is often confused with permissive parenting. Respectful parenting is treating your child as a human being and connecting with them. After all, you wouldn’t yell at or hit your other family members, co-workers, or friends. It is important to note that it does not entail not disciplining your child. Permissive parenting, on the other hand, is rooted in appeasing your child.
I believe in respectful parenting.
Here are some good things that have come from my respectful parenting journey:
- It has made me realize my daughter is learning how to respond to me, so however I process my feelings, especially through disciplining her, is her model for how she should process her feelings and speak to others.
- There are fewer temper tantrums.
- I can better tailor what we learn or play to what she wants and is interested in because I understand her more.
- Teaching her we’re a team is extremely necessary, as I’m a single mom. I strongly feel I’m creating this foundation well through respectful parenting.
BUT, there’s a lot of days where I call my mom venting, explaining that I feel personally attacked by my own child.
Those days, I feel like I’m at the mercy of a tyrant that is running my house. While I know this isn’t true (I understand I’m the adult and parent around here), that’s just how it feels sometimes.
Here are some questions I’ve agonized over through this journey:
- At what point do you walk away to compose yourself so you don’t have your own outburst during a toddler tantrum?
- At what point do you stop discussing the importance of getting dressed with them and just force them in their freaking clothes because you’re going to be late for work?
- Does your reflex of yelling “Hey, no!” when they’re about to break an expensive object or hitting the dog something you have to later have to apologize for?: “Sorry, baby. Mommy shouldn’t have yelled, but it’s not nice to pull Caesar’s tail or hit him on the head with Elsa.” *insert large, sarcastic smile*
I’ve decided that though I’m on a respectful parenting journey, I don’t have to subscribe to another parent’s (that has a completely different home situation and child than mine) “rules” for this journey. Neither do you.
Here’s the best comparison I’ve come up with for my daughter and I so far:
Just like adults need to feel heard and have support (think: friends, a counselor, healthy work environment, church, family, etc.), so does she. That falls on me. However, just like adults will never mature emotionally by not sitting with their emotions (think: ignoring their problems, alcohol, binge eating, Netflix, etc.), she will never learn to process her emotions if I distract her or coddle her through an outburst.
I don’t tell her she can’t feel angry, cry, or even have an outburst. On the other hand, I try not to let her see how much I dread her tantrums so that she begins to hold them over my head. I, also, have to walk away at a certain point to compose my own emotions because I know she is modeling my behavior.
I’ve made a mental list for when I feel an outburst coming:
- Validate her feelings: “I know you want to keep playing, but it’s time to take a bath.”
- Provide an alternative: “Is there a toy you want to take to the bath with you?”
- *Shit hits the fan, toddler screams begin, dogs run away, ten more potholes are made in Louisiana*
- *I make sure there’s nothing around she can hurt or hurt herself with*
- *Muster up all the calmness in my voice I can so I don’t sound like I’m engaging with the tyranny* “Okay, Mommy is going to the kitchen. Let me know when you want to talk.”
I guess we can take a little humor from the writers of The Fairly Oddparents. (Yes, tell me you’re a millennial without telling me you’re a millennial.):
I’m not educated in any sort of way on this topic. This is just my encouragement to keep doing your best to connect with and love your children and do not let anyone’s set of rules dictate your home. No mom-guilt allowed.
Closing out here with words from fellow Lafayette Mom contributor, Kristen Gary:
“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but…
If you’re practicing gentle and respectful parenting to break some sort of generational trauma, THAT SHIT IS HARD. It’s hard. Plain and simple. You won’t be perfect all of the time, and that’s okay. You’re learning the tools you need along the way.
I think oftentimes we forget that.
It’s hard to hold space for your child when you’ve only recently learned how to hold space for even yourself.
I love you. And I see you over there doing the work. You’re breaking cycles and I’m proud of you.”