Typically, my less than stellar times involve me being tired or hungry – and almost always at the end of the day when I’m running low on personal energy stores. That’s when the yelling happens.
I’ve never thought of myself as a yeller – and in fact, until recently, I would say I almost never yelled. But both E and Z have shared with me that I am in fact a screaming harridan at times, and that it’s been a fairly recent thing. Heck, for all I know, it could be related to perimenopause, which is certainly known to cause irritability and moodiness. Or it could be because tweens can be pretty annoying (though it’s not always their fault).
Whatever the cause or reason, the bottom line is that I hate yelling at or being critical with Z. I really try hard to see things from her perspective and to “connect before I correct” but it still happens – especially in the evenings, which can be a frustrating time for all families.
I also dislike when E and I argue or fight in front of her, because my parents fought constantly during my childhood and I hated it. We’re not as bad as my folks, I don’t think, but it can still get tense at times. We need to do a better job of working through things before they get to that point – although it’s always a good teaching opportunity with Zoe, as I remind her that grownups have disagreements at times and it’s important to talk through things before people get frustrated or angry.
Then there’s another time that I suck as a parent, and that’s when my own parents are visiting. I find it really tough to keep to our gentle, peaceful or positive discipline parenting ways when my parents are at our home. At those times, I tend to feel this invisible but intense pressure to be stricter or more authoritative with Z. I don’t know why… to prove I’m a “good” parent? To not seem so “extreme” or weird to them?
But it sucks and it has made my daughter hate the way I act during their visits – causing a lot of negativity in the family – and I feel horrible about that! I am working hard on this. Interestingly, it’s not an issue when we go to their house or on vacation with them. When we are at their house or on vacation, I have no trouble sticking to our gentle parenting ways – plus our daughter is automatically on her best behavior because we’re visiting.
But when they visit us, it seems like she acts out more… and then I start to get stricter/more authoritative… and then she acts out more… it’s a vicious cycle and never ends well 🙁
One thing that I always try to get right, though, is that when I notice I’ve been a bad mom (yelling or being critical), I apologize and ask Z for her help in doing better. We talk about ways we can both improve our relationship and help each other along. We’re always honest with Z about the fact that everyone’s human – parents and kids both make mistakes and we can always forgive each other and do better the next day.
What are your worst times as a parent, and how do you handle them? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook.