Parenting When You Don't Feel Like Parenting
“Please sit down! We don’t walk around during dinner.” This is one of a thousand instructions we reinforce with our kids during meal time.
No books at the table. Napkins in the lap.Show gratitude. Clean up your dishes. Eat your veggies.Use your fork.
When we’re not eating together, the instructions persist.
Don’t feed the dog people food! Ask nicely. No Legos on the floor! Shoes belong in the closet. No duct tape on furniture. Fix your tone! Clean up after yourself.
On and on it goes, relentlessly. The rules never vary, but neither does the forgetfulness of those rules. I begin to wonder if our children are brain damaged.
I don’t recall challenging MY parents on manners. I think I was perfectly compliant (though my mother insists my memory is faulty!!).
Still, all of this reinforcement makes me wonder if what we're doing is working. Are the little course corrections making an impact? Of course I rationally understand the value of instruction, but my energy level tempts me to respond differently.
I want to take the easy route and let the eye roll slide or the half-truth fly by. I do a better job wiping down the table anyhow, and I’m faster at putting away the laundry. I don’t want to engage in the did-you-brush-your-teeth exchange again. Especially when I’m tired, I want to “mail-in” my parenting duties.
This is dangerous thinking.
“Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant.” Epictetus
I have a job which no one else can do. My children’s best chance of thriving is if I show up to parent regardless of how I feel.
There is no easy route.
My friend Melissa always talks about facing challenges by putting on her “big girl pants” and doing the next right thing.
In the parenting landscape, that means being consistently present and relentlessly engaged. It means putting your lessons on repeat and staying close on both the little and large challenges.
Hang tough friends. You are doing a good work.
PHOTO DISCLAIMER: I featured this picture because Team Phenix had just survived what is still, to date, one of our most miserable dining experiences as a family. Proof that pictures only tell part of the story!