It’s too bad parents aren’t furnished an owners’ manual when children start coming into their lives. Every parent could use one.
Of course, this doesn’t happen, but maybe having one wouldn’t matter anyway. Children come in all shapes and sizes and they come with every personality type imaginable. It’s amazing how one child can have certain attributes and a sibling can have the complete opposite traits.
Raising children has its highs and lows. Often, the challenges and heartaches seem to outnumber the joys and triumphs. The hard times tend to leave some parents feeling inadequate and sometimes to blame. If you find yourself doubting your abilities as a mother or father, consider the following:
Your Children are Human
Just like you, your child makes mistakes. It’s going to happen. You messed up when you were a child and a teen, so don’t expect anything differently from your kids. Make rules; set standards; create expectations. But realize that your children have their own minds and can make their own choices. If you are creating the best atmosphere you can for your children to be successful and happy, you can take comfort in knowing you did the best you could, regardless of what paths your sons and daughters take.
They Really do Love You
The three worst words a parent wants to hear are “I hate you.” If you’re a parent, you’ve probably heard these three words uttered before. Whether the cutting remark came from a child or a teen, it can wound you deeply and cause self-doubt. Usually, “I hate you” means “I’m upset at you” or “I’m testing you.”
When your son or daughter treats you like they don’t love you, don’t beat yourself up. In most cases, they do love you; they just don’t know how to express their emotions or frustrations.
Stick by What you Say
When your child or teen disregards your rules and blatantly disobeys you, the child is at fault. It doesn’t mean your rules are misguided or that your parenting skills are poor. Be confident in the boundaries you set and principles you teach. If you truly believe your methods are best for your child, tell them, but don’t alter them drastically if your child tramples over them. Remember, rebelliousness is common in adolescence.
Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is you. Parents of wayward or troubled children love to wallow in self-pity and wonder what more they could have done to prevent problems. There’s nothing inherently wrong with posing this question. You may have in fact made some mistakes or neglected duties. But being angry with yourself will accomplish nothing. There’s still time to make things better and make things right.
Parenting is the hardest job in the world. It’s also the most rewarding. As you raise your children, your emotions will swing on an enormous pendulum. But through everything, remember these key principles. You may not have a manual to follow, but you do have help.
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