I wasn’t raised in the best of homes. I was raised by a single mom who did the best she could with what she had. That generally meant that we didn’t have much and she wasn’t around much. My dad was often in and out of the picture depending on what was going on in his life. Because of this I grew up with no standard of how a child should be raised. My normal was far from healthy. Fast forward many years and I find myself parenting two amazing children. It seems like every day I ask myself, “Am I messing up my kid?”
I don’t feel like this every day. There are beautiful days where I look at them and have the highest hopes for them. I know that they will succeed and be amazing adults. Then there are the hard days. On those days I look at my little miracles and I am convinced that I have messed it all up. Surely, they will spend time in therapy because of me. I want to share a few things with you that help me get through the hard days. These are questions I have to ask myself, or on the bad days, these are questions my husband will ask me.
Am I messing up my kid?
Do they know I love them?
At the end of the day one of the most important things you can give your child is love. Do your children know that you love them? I am not talking about gifts or standards or any other checklist you have to rise to. I am simply referring to the core truth a child needs. When your child goes to sleep at night do they know that you love them and would do anything for them?
If the answer to this one is yes, everything else can be worked on. If the answer to this is no, what do you need to change so that your child will know without a doubt that you love them?
Did I listen?
Children speak non-stop. They ask a million questions and tell countless stories. However, there are the things that they say in passing that matter most. The other day my son said, “You don’t play with me anymore.” Now, I spent hours playing his video games with him and snuggling and tickling him. However, in his little heart he wanted to pull down all of his toys, sit down and play. In that moment I had a choice. Do I listen to his little voice asking me to play or do I dismiss him.
When your child makes a statement like this do you listen? Do you dismiss them because you are already doing too much.
For the record, I told him he had a choice. I said, “Mommy has plenty of time to spend with you. You wanted to play games together. Next time you want time with mommy turn off the game and we will play together.” Teach your child to ask for what they need most and you will help both of you.
Did I make time?
Some days can be really busy. When you settle in to a routine it can be easy to do the same things you do every single day. The dishes in the sink are calling. The laundry is overtaking the bathroom. There are Math lessons that have to be learned. All of these things are important. They deserve the time they take to get done. In the same way that you schedule these items in to your day, make time for your children. Plan out deliberate times when you are simply engaging with them.
Am I burdening them with my insecurities?
Sometimes when we have a difficult past we can bring our insecurities to the parenting table. This can be something such as letting your child eat too much or too often because you rarely had enough to eat or doing everything for your child because no one ever did for you. I have done this many times as a parent and even as a wife. However, it isn’t healthy for you or for your children. Speak with your spouse or a counselor about your insecurities. Don’t burden your children with them. There is healing in letting go of the past and choosing to parent in the here and now.
Did I control my anger?
I have a short fuse. I don’t mean to but there are days when I am easily annoyed and frustrated. It can be easy to fly off the handle because that is all I knew. However, that is not healthy for me or for my children. Each day this is a battle but it is one that can be won. I find myself praying often when I hit these moments. There are two ways to snap. You can either snap in anger and hurt your children or you can s.n.a.p. by using the acronym stop now and pray. One will bring pain. The other will bring peace.
Each day will be a balance and it can feel like you are failing. Keep in mind, Vincent Van Gogh spent his entire life as an artist thinking that he failed. Yet, in our generation he is one of the most talked about artists who ever lived. You may not see the results of parenting for years but that doesn’t mean you are a failure. Take time daily to work toward the things above and I believe your children will turn out better than you ever dreamed.
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