As caregivers in a new age of parenting, we are frequently willing to put aside our own lives, and spend our every moment attending to our children, often times behaving as though our sole purpose in life is to meet each of our children’s needs and expectations with a level of enthusiasm and joy that would make the cheeriest of adults skeptical. After all, isn’t the goal of parenting to produce perfectly functioning young people who are happy and satisfied with themselves and their surroundings at all times? Not so, according to licensed marriage and family therapist, father, and relationship coach Hal Runkel, who puts forth a very different picture in his book, Scream Free Parenting.
What then are we to do as parents in 2012? As this author suggests, we are to calm down and grow up, allowing ourselves to parent in a calm manner where we are in control. As parents, our own anxiety frequently comes to the surface, where we then take it and place it upon our children in how we behave as parents. Let’s look at an example. Your child is struggling with his or her homework, and becomes visibly frustrated and upset. As a parent who is anxious about protecting your child and making certain that all is well in their world, you begin to take command over the homework crisis and solve it, all the while your anxiety is ratcheting skyward as you concern yourself with your child’s lack of mastery over the homework. When will they master it? It could potentially be “never” if you choose to do it for them. Struggling with a problem and coming away with a sense of accomplishment is a wonderful teaching tool for our children, so allow them to do just that, struggle and make it their own! Take your anxiety out of the room, and give your child what they need… space to struggle and make mistakes! This is but one suggestion that the author makes in this refreshing and common-sense tool for parenting.
We are all works in progress, with many of us doing our absolute best to be the parents and caregivers who will eventually raise children to become fully-functioning adults. Yes, we will make mistakes. Yes, we will lose our cool. And yes, we are not perfect, but with some help along the way, we may be able to conquer our parental anxieties, calm down, grow up, becoming responsible to our children, not for them!