You know what happens when you vent about the trials of parenthood and your kids’ sometimes shitty behavior? People come out of the woodwork to tell you it sounds like you just don’t know how to discipline your kids. That it’s all your fault. That their kids would or have never behaved that way.
Well, fucking good for them.
Parenthood is a trial. Probably the hardest journey I and anyone else has ever embarked upon. And if it’s not, I’d say that’s an indication that someone has a problem, because you can’t parent without difficult times along with the good ones. If that’s the case, you’re the one doing it wrong.
My kids are both my greatest joy and my greatest source of stress. They can go from happy to crabby in 0.4 seconds and they are a handful when shit hits the fan (as it often does).
But guess what? This doesn’t mean I don’t discipline my kids. It means they are tiny humans with willpower of their own who, just like adults, have good days and bad days, big feelings and little feelings that they’re figuring out how to navigate.
Also? Just because a kid misbehaves doesn’t mean the parents aren’t trying their best to find the most effective discipline strategy for their unique children.
That’s right. There’s no ONE way to discipline kids. Because just like adults, each kid is different. Each kid responds differently to certain discipline approaches. Each kid has different sets of needs, of personalities, and sometimes, of disabilities that make finding the best discipline technique a challenge for many parents.
So when we lament the trials that often accompany raising kids, don’t tell me — or anyone else — that the problem is we just don’t discipline our kids the right way.
For my part, I’ve got 3 very unique children for whom no single discipline approach will work. One child has high anxiety and may possibly be on the spectrum. Another has a brain injury that may affect his behavior. And another is very physical, rough and tumble, and learning to exert his own toddler independence. To add insult to injury, all 3 are extremely strong-willed.
So if you see us having a moment, one or all of us spiraling into meltdown mode, don’t assume it’s because these kids lack discipline. Instead, assume we’re working toward the right balance between discipline and emotional well-being. Between being the authority figures without being dictators. Between meeting their individual needs and instilling in them a sense of personal responsibility. Between having high expectations while also letting them know they’re loved.
In short, don’t be a dick. Parenting is hard enough as it is. Instead of rushing to judgment, try empathizing and finding the humor in the shit show. Camaraderie is so much more pleasant than pitting ourselves against one another.
We’re all in the parental trenches together. Let’s try to help each other out rather than sinking one another into the pit further.