I used to think I would be a perfect parent. Right up until I learned that the crying baby on the plane was mine and I could NOT stop his crying, no matter what I did.
And when I used to see kids in the grocery store dressed in mismatched clothes or costumes when it was not Halloween, and wondered about that - until my 3 year old son insisted on wearing his container for his legos, upside down on his head like a soldier’s hat, to the grocery store. I realized that if he was so content and happy, it did not matter. So around the store we went.
I experienced what most parents do. At the arrival of our son, I instantly morphed into this new creation – God had created a parent - in me. I was still the same person, but oh how my heart had changed. To it, God had added such love, unlike anything I had ever experienced. He added a whole new dimension to my perspective on children and their lives. This also provided me with a new perspective for parents and their lives too.
I intuitively blended into the moments of joy of our children without looking back, thinking twice, or the blink of an eye. I found myself smiling a message of understanding and joy in other’s children with lego hats, upside down on their heads in the grocery store. Most amazing of all, empathetic grins come across my mind, face and heart when there are crying babies on airplanes. I try to make eye contact with the parents, if possible, to give them that look of solidarity we parents must have. A look that encourages them, offers condolences, and makes them feel that all will be okay.
To think that I used to believe parents can control their children’s behavior at all times. There is a big difference between being in control of one’s children and controlling their behavior at all times. May parents be blessed with understanding and compassion by those that are parents around them, when in the more challenging moments with their children.
A memory comes to mind. My two year old son threw a down right, full blown temper tantrum in a large, indoor shopping mall. It was winter and he was big enough that in his snowsuit, when flailing around, there came a point that I had to put him down. I just could not keep him in my arms. We were in a large atrium area, not far from the exit door. I had hoped we would make it to the car, but to no avail. I just could not hold him, he was so upset. I pride myself in how I handled it, but let me tell you how others made me feel. I let him flail around on the floor screaming, calmly telling him to let me know when he was ready to go. Then, because I had nothing else with me but my purse, I took my checkbook out and pretended to be reading it so that every time he looked up at me I seemed preoccupied and to be truly ignoring him (though believe me, that was far from the truth!.) As I leaned against the wall, wishing that Scottie could beam me up, my eyes caught the looks of a few adults walking by. One lady of retired age gave me a very disapproving look.
Don’t you feel wounded when that happens? When you know you are doing your best?
Well, I was proud of myself that in short order my son did decide to stop his nonsense and we calmly went out to the car. In fact, he never did that again. I truly believe he learned that was not effective. I don’t know, maybe I just lucked out.
Never the less, I am committed to being a spirit of encouragement any time I see a parent in one of their more “glorious “ battles of the parenting challenges – especially when they are doing everything they can to handle it the right way.
Lori Jo Kemper is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® and speaker.
Copyright 2006, Lori Jo Kemper, www.TheParentingPath®