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How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Posted by lindy_444_2009 (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 28, 09 at 12:12

New to the forum, hi everyone.

Here's some history and sort of a rant/vent: My children are 6 and 4. I am an older mom (44). I will not mince words: I am not as good a mother as I thought I would be, and my husband is an even worse father. I thought when we had our children later in life we would be calmer, more focused, smarter ... none of that is the case. I am tired, scatter-brained, frustrated and lacking in parenting strategies. My husband is angry all the time and he takes it out on the kids, snapping at them, nitpicking them, scolding them constantly, always using a harsh tone of voice with them. Yesterday I was thinking to myself "If you want to be treated with respect, you first have to treat others with respect." I am at heart a non-confrontational person and it has been hard to discuss parenting issues with my husband. I have tried instead to model being a good parent, hoping to be a good example and hoping he'll notice and try to be more like me (yes, I realize how that sounds!). But I'm no saint either.

I have read and liked "Screamfree Parenting" and tried to take its message & tactics to heart.

I would like this post to be more than a rant or me venting my frustrations, but thank you if you've read thus far.

How did you become a good parent? What things do you say to yourself during the day to stay focused on sending the right messages to your kids, communicating with them in a positive way, etc.? How do you resolve parenting conflicts with your spouse? How could I go about telling my husband to stop being a bully to the children?

I am thinking of writing for myself a parenting mission statement to tape on the bathroom mirror and read every morning. It would say something like "I will do all I can to raise my children in a calm, safe, loving environment. I am helping them become confident, compassionate, fulfilled people ... " Do you have such a philosophy for your own parenting goals that you can summarize and share?

Getting sort of tired of beating myself up and being disappointed in my husband, and fearing that we are screwing up our kids with our shortcomings. Looking for some positive advice, your examples of how you are a good parent and how I can become a better one.

Thanks,
Lindy


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Don't sweat the small stuff, so what if they ruined something spilling something. 5 or 10 years from now will it matter. Also, pick your battles, only the really important stuff. Don't set yourself being mad about something in the end really doesn't make an impact. Try tell tell them in someway everyday you love them. If you are really mad for a good reason you can say, I love you but I don't like you right now. If they say they hate you, tell them you love them.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Hi Lindy

Good for you for posting here, and wanting to be the best parent you can. Parenting does not come easily and must be learnt.

In addition to Izzie I would say :

Don't take things personally.
If you behave badly they will behave badly.
Play with them everyday.
Read to them everyday.
Your time with them should always bring you joy, if not, ask yourself "why not?"
Be confident with yourself in always knowing the right thing to do.
Tell them you love them often.
When they are little - you are the boss.
When they are teens - you will "stand" beside them whilst they make decisions about there own lives.
Encourage, praise when needed.
Phrase your words always in the positive, even when you are angry.
Don't "label" them. Please don't do this !
Use "timeouts" for discipline.
Say it's the BEHAVIOR you don't like not the child.
Keep communication channels open when they become teens.
When young, foster a love of exercise, and healthy eating, this will keep going into the teens, hopefully!
Remember things always get better, even though you have bad days - they always get better.
Foster a love of searching for knowledge, talk about what you see and ask them what they think.
Have "special time" with each child.

Just a few ideas.

With regard to your husband, this is tricky. You don't want to appear to be telling him how to be a parent, because he will probably get annoyed with that. I guess you need to talk to him in those quiet, calm moments, without distractions and come up with a parenting plan. You must be united in your parenting skills, otherwise the children will learn to play one parent off the other. If I were you - I would make sure you become the parent you want to be - by reading, and talking to other parents. That is the best thing YOU can do.

Is it really a matter of you being an older parent - I don't think so - whatever age you had your children, I think you would still have the same issues.

I am sure others will have some advice for you.

Take care.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Looking back, (many years ago) when I wasn't being the best parent I could be, I'd have to say that frustration and impatience were the culprits.
And probably some selfishness at the loss of "me time" to boot.
I remember thinking "I'm going to be doing this ______for the rest of my life! My frustration heightened.
So, you're not the only parent in the world to beat yourself up about thinking your less than a stellar parent.

Change the tone of your self talk. Stop with the negativity. I am a GOOD parent, I WANT to help them learn. I CHOOSE to be patient and so on.

I had no problem getting parenting help from a psychologist during a time in my life when I didn't know how to handle work and kids. It was a life saver.
No harm in seeking help when needed. You are not in this world alone and don't have to act as though you are.

As far as your hubby's behavior...well, that starts to become a marital challenge when you are unable to communicate without setting one another off. Have you told him how you don't feel YOU aren't being the type of parent you imagined? Ask him how he could help YOU achieve that?
(Just switching it up here)

And believe me, these child rearing years go faster than a blink of an eye and before you know it...they're off having their own. And it's okay to not be perfect. Not one parent has been :)


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

"My husband is angry all the time and he takes it out on the kids, snapping at them, nitpicking them, scolding them constantly, always using a harsh tone of voice with them."

This needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY. #1, why is your husband angry all the time?
What is he angry about?
#2, Does he think it appropriate, to take his anger out on two small, vunerable beings, whose care he is responsible for?
His behavior is completely unacceptable. It sounds like you are hoping that, if you are a "good enough" parent, it will cancel him out......it doesn't work that way.
You are the matriarch of your home. You must protect your children from this sort of thing.
This is wrong.
He is the man of the family and should be setting an example - he should represent safety and security - clearly, this is not the case here.
Why is he behaving like this?

"How did you become a good parent?" I think I'm a good parent; I'm not a "perfect" parent, but I don't think there is any such animal.
I don't think our kids NEED us to be perfect, I think they NEED US.
It's okay for children to realize that their parents are only human (this will come later, as your kids are still very young), but don't feel like you have to pretend, or be something or someone, other than who you are.
Show your children that you love them. Unconditionally. That is the main thing. That doesn't mean you cannot discipline them, but discipline is a loving thing. It is setting boundaries, treating others the way you would want to be treated, and so on.

"What things do you say to yourself during the day to stay focused on sending the right messages to your kids, communicating with them in a positive way, etc.? "

Hugs, communicating with them on their level, showing them that you care, explaining "why" this or that, explaining how the world works, etc. All the things a little Martian would need to know, because children are born knowing nothing of how things work. You need to explain things to them, at the level they can understand.

"How do you resolve parenting conflicts with your spouse? How could I go about telling my husband to stop being a bully to the children?"

You need to go out with hubby to a nice restaurant, have a good meal, and ask him to talk with you, ask him if he will listen to you, that there is something bothering you greatly. Explain that you are worried about the children, and why. Do it in a loving way.
Unfortunately, it is not always possible to resolve parenting conflicts.

I hope it is possible for you, but this needs to be addressed and ASAP.
No matter how "good" a parent you are, it will NOT protect them from what your husband is doing.
Accept that, and address this. Good luck to you.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

I think I have my moments of being a bad parent, but overall I like to think I am a good parent. We have our good days and our bad. Most of the advice I would have given was already said.

One thing I have to add that I do not think I saw as I skimmed through was to keep up the relationship with you and your hubby. Many times in parenting we get so wrapped up in our relationship with the children that we foget about our marriages. Set up a monthly date night and leave the kids with family or a sitter. Try to have a consistant bedtime for your children so you and hubby have time to unwind at night together (or even seprerately at times).

Also you need to maintain your friendships. Having a few good girlfriends has helped me tremendously. We talk on the phone often and try to get together a lot with the kids.....and sometimes without.

If your home during the day then join a moms group....like M.O.P.S.--moms of preschoolers.

Join a gym with a childcare area. Make it a point to go work-out often (you will feel more energetic and relaxed) and you will get some time away from being a mommy even if it is only an hour or so.

Parenting should be fun and enjoyable and it will be easier if you are happy.

The last thing is start some fun or silly traditions. Make those memories that your children will cherish! Simple things like going sledding during the first snow every winter...making hot cocoa with marshmallows and a candy cane to stir...making homemade carmel apples...cutting down a fresh christmas tree at a tree farm each year....riding bikes to the park or on trails....collecting bugs in recyclable items...movie nights on the couch with stuffed animals and blankets with the lights off.....board game nights...All those simple things are the things my son remembers and cherishes and looks forward to.

As for your hubby I would sit down with him. Tell him you feel like your both being bad parents. Talk about things you can both change so he will not feel like your scolding him.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

I don't think i am a great parent, i made my mistakes, but I am not horrible either. i think to protect sanity it helps not to worry about little things. people are often obsessed over small things. some stuff is just not important.

as about angry husband, i would not want to be married to someone angry all the time. parents who are too demanding and angry usually do not bond with their children too well. and then they are estranged as adults and parents wonder: why are my children estranged from me? that's why.

also when children become adults they will blame you for allowing their father to be mean to them.

also things change wiht age. i am 43 and honestly would have hard time raising small children. mine is 21. i am in OK shape but i do not feel as alert as when i was raising her. I need my 8 hours of sleep now, when DD was little I could survive on 5 hours. i don't think i have patience for a 4 year old. when i babysit my niece, i get tired easily. maybe you need some help from outside or other family members to give you some break. it could be just being phsyically tired.

and do something about your husbdand. he either has to change or he gotta go.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

I recommend the book "Playful Parenting". Really inspirational for me.

Also, try "Love and Logic" (I think they have a website). Absolutely, hands down, some of the best, immediately practical strategies for parenting I've seen. There is a newsletter you can sign up for with tips. These are great -- it focuses on creating calm parents and confident, independent kids.

Get together with your DH and confess how you feel. Ask him how he feels, like an earlier poster said -- ask him if he can try to help you stay calm. DH and I know that if one of us is mad, the other immediately needs to take over and let the mad parent go cool off. Perhaps you could set up something like that.

Also, talk to DH about his life. My DH is always worse when his job is going poorly, it's stressful and he reflects that stress back onto us. I try to be understanding. I've found that he is more understanding if I talk to him about my problems calmly and focus on "me" and not assume anything about what he feels or wants.

We all struggle. Take it moment by moment. If you yell at your kids and then feel bad, APOLOGIZE! They will appreciate a genuine apology. Talk about wanting to improve your relationship with them. Then they will see and know that you are trying, even if you slip up and still descend into yelling. That's important for them.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Look back on your own childhood and how you were parented. Is there a good example there? I was blessed with good parents who taught me about parenting by example. They made me feel valued and accepted for myself. Some people think they need to mold their children, make them into "something better." They mean well, bless their hearts. But you have to let children be themselves, learn about who they are, and figure out how to be their best selves. It doesn't mean you don't expect good things from them. It's a shift in thinking to "I know these kids do good things, and are capable of even more, and I'm watching for that" instead of watching for the mistakes to criticize.

I have spent time with many other mothers. Some of whom I admire very much b/c of how they relate to their kids. I learn from them and try to model what they do when I notice something I really like. I remember noticing one mother whose kids were great little people, not just well-behaved, but really happy, well-adjusted kids. The thing that stood out to me was the mutual respect. She talked to her kids the way she wanted them to speak to her and to others. Of course she corrected them, but she corrected them the way an adult would *want* to be corrected by, say, an employer. With respect and a goal in mind.

Once when I was preggo with #1 I observed a mother in a store, total stranger, whose kids impressed me the same way. I complimented her and asked her for insight, telling her that what she had accomplished was my goal. Every time I ask a parent I admire, it always comes down to respect. Just because they are children does not give adults the right to belittle them, rudely criticize them, embarass them, and generally disrespect them. That's hurtful, and hurt kids cannot be their best selves.

It's a good idea to find a moms' group to join. That saved me when my kids were young. The exchange of ideas and comraderie of knowing you're not alone is invaluable. You'll meet parents you like, and some you don't. But you can learn from all of them.

If you see your husband's anger as part of the problem you really have to find a way to address that. You still have a long road ahead, so find a way to have these conversations. Does he think he's right in what he does? Or do you think he's also confused and without ideas?

I know I don't always do the right thing with my kids (ages 7, 10, 13 and 16). I try, but I have bad days. So does my DH. If I don't like the way he handles something, I tell him later, when things are calm. It has taken practice to get to the point where we know which of us handles certain situations better and we let that one handle it. I'm better at handling school stuff. When our 16 y/o gets a low grade, I remind DH to look at the big picture before he acts rash. Is this one low grade among 10 good ones, or is there a pattern? DH is better at handling DS's social life issues, he knows how a guy thinks and is better at getting to the truth with DS.

Parenting takes practice, it really does. The fact that you are thinking, questioning and trying to make adjustments is a good thing; it doesn't mean you're failing. When your kids are babies and toddlers and you are physically exhausted, not sleeping, can't close your eyes or take a shower- people tell you "It gets easier." They are just trying to make you feel better for the moment. It does NOT get easier. The issues of that age pass, but it just gets hard in new ways. Emotionally exhausting ways instead of physically. ;o) Not to scare you, just acknowledging the truth of it. If you were expecting this to come easier, but it's not, it is not a comment on YOU, but rather on the challenge of parenting.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

I tend to agree with stephanie in ga. As far as your husband's anger goes, I also agree with stephanie's response, "if you feel it is a part of the problem you really have to find a way to address that."

I also don't have a problem with seeking help from a psychologist during difficults times. I feel it is a proactive choice and step to take. Try to steer clear of people who do not support your emotional growth and goals--this goes not only for parenting but also your personal growth in your marriage relationship and just you period.

I also agree with the following observation above, "No harm in seeking help when needed. You are not in this world alone and don't have to act as though you are."

Likewise, regarding the anger issue, I agree 100% with the following sentiment which was also observed above, "parents who are too demanding and angry usually do not bond with their children too well. and then they are estranged as adults and parents wonder: why are my children estranged from me? that's why."

That is what my husband recalls and vividly remembers the most about his mother--her rage and how she expressed her anger. It prevented closeness and created a lot of unhappiness. He also remembers how she took it out on him and all the excuses made for the behaviors.

I don't think that any of the issues you discuss above has anything to do at all with being an older mother. Everyone has issues and everyone gets tired. If you've ruled out your being tired for valid health reasons, then I would just attribute it to the normal tired many people feel. Don't listen to someone suggesting otherwise and dismissing your concerns as stemmming from that.

Likewise, you state, "I am at heart a non-confrontational person and it has been hard to discuss parenting issues with my husband."

Describing yourself as being a non-confrontational person could very well be a contributing reason as to why your husband is feeling angry all the time. It's hard to know, from what you write, so that is why it may be a good idea to address the anger issues and seek a professional to help. It might be of help to read up on passive-aggressive anger as well. No one likes conflict, however it is unreasonable to think you can go through life avoiding it and conflict-proof your relationships. It is also a sign of weak, unstable and unhealthy relationships.

Good luck to you with this.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

As for your husband, you can dissaprove of his parenting style and discuss, but never undermine him in front of the children. You must be a united front. On the same team. So talk about your parenting struggles and struggle with him, but not interfere when he is parenting. Take some time to find the same page and express your concerns and what you felt wasn't right in the day.

As for you, you're here! You're looking for answers, and that is already a good parent!! My children are young, but when they really get me going, I think in my head - "I'm helping them be a better person by learning a lesson" and "how can I make this a teaching moment?" I get mad, sure! But I also enjoy a good time out, you know they learned something, and you helped mold there lives. Good luck to you :)


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

I became a good enough parent by modeling the parenting I had experienced growing up. I am in no way as good a mother as my mother was. My mom was wonderful, and she and my dad presented a steady, concerned parenting style. We felt safe above all. We were expected to measure up to certain family standards, do our best in school, and to use our heads for thoughtful decisions. Dad's favorite word was "no."

I know it helped that I did not become a parent until I was in my 30s, was more mature, and had had many experiences in life and my career. I had worked for many, many years, and we had a good savings plan. Therefore, I was able to be a stay at home mom, which made child rearing so much easier.

My husband was an only child, but I was one of 4, so I knew better than he from personal experience what kids are like. We were strict, communicated expectations of good behavior, watched that our children were well rested and nutritiously fed, and urged them to do well in school.

Someone mentioned the help that friends provide, and I do agree with that. When we moved to Chicago and had our first baby, I remember the other moms on the block being sure I understood how Halloween trick or treating is done responsibly in the big city. They were a help. Then when we moved to California, other moms taught me to be concerned about drugs being so available to our children, again all new to me. I volunteered with great moms whose concerns and tricks of the trade opened my eyes to better attitudes and parenting skills.

Parenting fluctuates as the needs of the family and the children change or develop. You need to be a team with your husband and support each other. This starts with good communication about what the family needs are and what you should do to meet them.

I also read many childcare books, especially with babies in the house. I used my head in choosing what to use from those sources, and I developed some of my own stradegies too. I found it really helped me to try to remember how I felt about things when I was a child and to try to see things from my child's viewpoint while I tried to teach them to be respectful of others too.

I was a strict parent, and I think that paid off too. My kids are good friends to each other today, come home to visit often, and are good hearted, achieving adults.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

Likewise, regarding the anger issue, I agree 100% with the following sentiment which was also observed above, "parents who are too demanding and angry usually do not bond with their children too well. and then they are estranged as adults and parents wonder: why are my children estranged from me? that's why."

That is what my husband recalls and vividly remembers the most about his mother--her rage and how she expressed her anger. It prevented closeness and created a lot of unhappiness. He also remembers how she took it out on him and all the excuses made for the behaviors.

This was my childhood, in a nutshell. Today my mother pretends none of it happened (though she continues to act with hostility toward me) and seems to be totally clueless as to why it is not pleasurable for me to be around her. It is very sad because, until she is willing to own up to the truth and not try to paint a pretty picture over the things that were/are very ugly, we cannot have a meaningful relationship.

I don't know if it would help to share these statements that others and I have made with your husband, but I don't see how it could hurt.

God bless you and yours.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

"This was my childhood, in a nutshell. Today my mother pretends none of it happened (though she continues to act with hostility toward me) and seems to be totally clueless as to why it is not pleasurable for me to be around her. It is very sad because, until she is willing to own up to the truth and not try to paint a pretty picture over the things that were/are very ugly, we cannot have a meaningful relationship."

It's a lie they tell themselves, often with help from family members who enable the self-deception. As long as they will not own up to the truth then they don't have to look at themselves. It tends to force others either into accepting the pretense or it creates distance and alienation, resulting in avoidance and estrangement.

Basically, it's a very selfish way to conduct one's life--living in a clueless bubble of their own fantasy and ignoring the feelings of others. People who behave this way will turn it into how you're deficient and that it is your problem, not theirs. They will snivel and whine about how they are imperfect, but they will never acknowledge your feelings. If they really believed that they were imperfect, then they would seek to make amends. They wouldn't have a hard time trying to improve relationships by righting a wrong or owning up to it. They'll do everything, but own up to it and you can forget about their making a sincere apology--they just won't do it, because everything is all about them and what they feel. They cannot connect or don't want too with how other people feel.


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RE: How are you a good parent? How did you become one?

GOOD LUCK.

Every child sees things differently, even though it's the same house, same people, same experience.

Some love it, some hate it.

Do the best you can and let it go.
You won't win them all.


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