Recently a friend of mine watched my kids (all three of them) for a few hours while my husband and I were dealing with moving-related stuff. When we got back, she pulled me aside and apologized. She said she felt like she hadn’t been a great parent to them all (my kids and hers), as she had gotten frustrated and yelled at them a couple of times. She clarified that she had yelled at everybody, not picking on anyone in particular, but she still felt badly about it. I should back up and mention that we had been staying with them for several days, and all the kids had gotten each other riled up multiple times and everybody was getting on everybody elses nerves to some degree I think. In any case, I told her that I was on my last nerves too and that I certainly didn’t think any less of her as a person or as a parent for yelling at kids sometimes. She said that she has this perception of me as “an enigma of good parenting” and she was sure she wasn’t measuring up to how I would have handled things if I had been there.
If her concern had not been so serious, I might have laughed. Me? An enigma of good parenting? Oh boy.
So I’m here today to set the record straight.
I have a lot of ideas and beliefs about parenting, many of which I share here on my blog. These are things I genuinely believe in and genuinely try to do.
These are also things I fail at regularly.
I take the time to think about things, and try to come up with what I feel is the best way to raise and guide my children. But habits and frustrations and mental blanks at stressful moments all leave me doing things which are very much not within the realm of my ideals.
In other words, I yell at my kids plenty. Theoretically I speak with them calmly afterward, apologizing for yelling and trying to help them appreciate my frustration and work on a solution in a more peaceable manner… but honestly there are some times when I do that and other times when I feel entirely justified in yelling at a kid who knows better but is doing ______ for the umpteenth time anyway. I’m just human, just like we all are. Some things I’m good at, others I’m working on. But I’m not perfect at anything.
I told my friend I did not think less of her as a person or as a parent for having yelled at the kids. Based on what I’ve seen of her parenting, if she yelled at my kids then they probably earned it. And when we got home I took all the kids for a couple of hours and she got to go have some quiet time to herself browsing the bookstore for a while.
We all try. We all have epic fails at least part of the time. The point is not whether we fail, but whether we get up and try again.