Wow, this week my 3 year old son has massively pressed my buttons. Sometimes it feels like everything is a fight. Whilst I understand that this is part of him defining himself and finding out who he is in the world (good stuff) I often find myself feeling angry and exhausted. On top of that, if I am sleep deprived, feeling a general feeling of being pissed off about something or perhaps we are in a rush, I know I am less tolerant and more prone to get angry. It’s harder to feel someone else’s pain when are our own pain is close to the surface.
Afterwards, I feel ashamed that I am not parenting in a way I believe in. In calmer more rested moments I have greater clarity and I hope the result is that I am a much more conscious parent. At these times I welcome the opportunity to allow his behaviour to hold a mirror up to me and how I need to reparent myself.
I’m part of a wonderful parenting group with a therapist and this week I expressed how hard I was finding it right now. As is often the case, once I have talked about an issue I’m grappling with and had the space to be completely honest with someone who is really listening, I start to feel a lot better.
As we explored different ways of responding in those testing moments, something my therapist said made a lot of sense:
Firm boundary, soft delivery.
It’s true that I love to keep things simple and maybe that’s why this little beauty has become my mantra in the last week. Firstly in my parenting if I keep bringing myself back to this I feel so much better about how I am parenting. I put the boundary in place, firmly. And when I do that I don’t ask it as a question, I state it and I am clear that it is non-negotiable. My delivery is soft which means I stay calm and I don’t shout. Moses will often scream and fight against what he believes is the injustice of the boundary and I have to have the capacity to hold that which isn’t always easy. But I remind myself it’s my job. I’m the adult after all and I need to contain my own feelings in order to hold his.
As such, I think it’s so important as parents that we are getting support and a space to vent our frustrations. It means we have a much better chance of having the emotional space not to let it all spill out in those trying moments with our children.
This little mantra has been great for other areas of my life. Here are some of the ways I have experimented with applying it this week:
How do I set a boundary with myself, like doing my meditation daily? It’s non-negotiable because I love myself enough to know how good it is for me and how awful I feel when I don’t do it. And what about treating myself softly? Asking myself gently rather than telling myself I have to do something? What does it feel like when I don’t keep a boundary I have set for myself?
In Relationship with Others
How does it feel to put a boundary in place even when I am worried that it will cause a row? Where am I not putting boundaries in place where I should be? How am I creating the time and space I need for myself so that I can give to others? How can I put a boundary in place with ease and confidence rather than guilt or shame?
This week has reminded me that there is always so much learning and growth available for us as parents. And sometimes we might want to go there and sometimes we don’t! Do let me know if this resonates with you and your experience of parenting. I’d love to hear.