A Few Thoughts on "I'm Sorry My Child is Hard to Like"
So many moms I know are regular readers of the popular Scary Mommy blog. The blog itself is a mix of perspectives from moms across the spectrum of motherhood. Today the title of one post, "I'm Sorry My Child is Hard to Like," caused me to read the entire piece including reading the comments, which is a section you should probably avoid because it may cause frequent sighs and eye-rolling http://www.scarymommy.com/difficult-child-hard-to-like/?utm_source=FB . The author describes her relationship with her strong-willed 5 year old. We can gather that from the author's words, her child's difficult behavior happens fairly regularly. None of the situations described in the post surprised me because if we're honest, we've all on occasion had experiences with our children where their behavior was so bratty and defiant, they weren't likeable in that moment. It doesn't mean that we don't love our children. It's obvious that this mom cares deeply for her child which is why she scheduled a playdate. What surprised me was the call for corporal punishment in the comments section and then the subsequent attack on those moms by those who supported the author. I don't think beating a child into submission is the way to go but mothers attacking and berating other moms for their differing beliefs isn't the best tactic in a debate either. You can't claim to be a conscious, "awakened" parent and then name-call because another person parents differently than you, but I digress.
My take on the author's situation is that if you are lucky enough to have, or be exposed to friends that have multiples, you will see that although the children were born to the same parents on the same day, they will have their own individual personalities, strengths, and deficits. They will go to the same school, eat the same food, are given the same opportunities for growth, and yet each will need and demand different things from their parents. I have often said and I truly believe that the children we are given are there to teach us things about ourselves more so than we are there to teach them. When you are a parent of a strong willed child, how do you discipline your child so that they have boundaries but are still allowed to be true to themselves. The child in this post is assertive, empowered, and resilient. Aren't those the qualities that we want in a leader? As parents we desire predictability but our children throw a monkey wrench in that plan on an almost daily basis. When we encounter parents with spirited children, rather than judge we should show some empathy. A kind word or gentle smile takes minimal effort but conveys an understanding that this parenting thing is hard and sometimes it sucks!
In my opinion, the mom in the post sounds completely exhausted but I also hear something amazing in her words. I hear acceptance. She accepts the child she has been given. She accepts that she may not always like her daughter's behavior. She accepts and hopes that these outbursts are temporary. I think it's important to see our children for who they are, warts and all. Our children are a part of us but they are not our carbon copies no matter the similarities in physical appearance. They don't come into this world we created understanding social norms and conventions. Think about it; we ask these little energetic beings to sit quietly for long periods of time. We ask them to dress up in uncomfortable clothes and shoes because we want them to look cute. We ask them not to scratch parts of their bodies out in public when they itch. We ask them to be patient and take turns when everything in their minds and bodies is screaming, "I want it NOW!" Have you ever been around someone who has had a very strict upbringing, being told how to dress, what to major in, whom to marry, where to live? I have, and I can tell you that the ones I know are some of the most unhappy individuals around. They are unable to make decisions for themselves because they have always been told what to do. Sure they may take great selfies of their fabulous looking life but I'd rather have my child live an authentic life created by his decisions. I want him to be confident in his abilities and to own and learn from his mistakes. Of course discipline and boundaries are important but I want our relationship to be built on respect, not fear. I want to be there to guide and support him on his journey so that when it's time for my little bird to fly from the nest, he will know who he is and he will create the life he wants to live. ~HZM
Photo courtesy of Scary Mommy MACHINEHEADZ / ISTOCK