All your kids want is your attention.
So give it to them.
I have never understood the parents who would rather be on their phone than engaging with their kids, the parents who ignore their children for so long that their kids finally give up, or the parents who would rather dump their kids with any available relative than spend time with them on the weekends.
Even when I thought I would never have a child of my own, I didn’t ever think, “UGH, kids are the WORST.” I always just looked at children as little people who were figuring the world out. That’s a complicated initiative. We have to cut these kiddos a break. Though, if I’m being fully transparent, I did often think, “Wow, those babies are hella inconvenient.” And, I mean, they ARE hella inconvenient.
But this whole my-kid-fits-into-my-life-not-the-other-way-around mentality has always confused me. Your kid is not an accessory. You don’t get to deal with them only when it’s convenient. Your kid is a real-life person who has to learn about everything in this world primarily from you. That takes a lot of care and commitment if you want them to grow up to be a well-adjusted human.
I don’t judge other parents pretty much ever. Being a parent is – in my opinion – life’s hardest work. There are no breaks (especially in COVID season), and you don’t know if all your effort even worked out OK until decades down the road.
However, I do judge some parents, but don’t we all?
If you are mean to your kid, I am judging you. I’m not talking about a stern dad voice or an intense mom glare. I’m not talking about getting frustrated and having a momentary freakout. I’m talking about being mean. Calling them ugly, stupid, lazy or worthless. Making fun of their emotions. Belittling them when they get something wrong. These parents are ruining self-esteem, creating emotionally unstable adults, and training their kids to love people who treat them horribly.
If you actively ignore and neglect your kid, I am judging you. Our children think that we are the end-all-be-all. When we ignore them because we would rather finish a long-winded story (that could be momentarily paused) or have more important Instagram scrolling to do, we are telling them that they aren’t important to us. So, the most important person in their life is telling them that the feeling is not mutual. How do you think that’s going to play out in the future for them? My guess: not great.
If you hit your kid, I am judging you. Maybe you were spanked and you “turned out fine.” That’s a nice anecdotal testimony, but in several longitudinal studies, the science say that it contributes to negative traits in adults. At best, studies say that it might be OK for preschool-aged children, but it definitely isn’t OK for infants or adolescents. Even still, anything above a spanking almost always causes severe psychological damage.
Here’s the next part, though: if you mess up, you can fix it. We were thankfully given the power to evaluate our decisions and make changes. If you are mean to your kid, you can sincerely apologize and do your best to be kinder and gentler in the future. If you realize that you often ignore your kid, you can make a choice to pay more attention. If you hit your kid, you can find other, more useful tools (that often work much better) for discipline.
As long as you love your kid and you try your very best, I’m not judging you. I’m not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination, but I try really, really hard to be a good one. I learn from my mistakes, make changes, and get better as I go. We are all human after all. We’ll never be perfect, but we can always try our best. We can always make better choices if we are messing up.
If you grew up in a rough environment, if you were hit or neglected or treated horribly, you didn’t deserve it. You did not deserve it. Your parents just weren’t well-equipped to be parents.
If you’re holding onto unresolved childhood trauma, I have many people and organizations in my network who can help you. Do not be ashamed to get the assistance you need. It almost always takes external help to overcome trauma. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will connect you to several different local resources that can help.
To view stories and lessons from our other Mommy Bloggers based in Central PA, go here: cpbj.com/tag/mommy-bloggers