By Allison Spence
Recently I’ve found myself in the self-help section of the library. Why is it called self help anyways? I wish it was titled “books that might help you in areas you struggle,” but then again, that’s just a longer title for self-help.
I read a book this month titled, “How to Be A Happier Parent” by KJ Dell’Antonia. Not only did I enjoy it, I needed it. I needed her witty perspective on little areas I struggle with.
Memorial Day weekend was fantastic, we hiked with family and friends, relaxed, fished, and just plain enjoyed each other. As a family we needed this weekend to regroup, to laugh and play. As a couple, Garrett and I needed it to come together as parents to agree on which battles to win and lose. To fight the fights, to wrangle those that can’t be wrangled, and to love those that needed loving. We parented our kids together for four days straight.
However, among the laughter and fighting I found myself apologizing to those all around me. “I don’t know if we will survive the terrible twos” I’d state. We visited a fish hatchery after a long day of hiking and swimming. Looking back it was a terrible idea on my part to continue the day after already having a full one.
Oops there I go again apologizing, I didn’t want the fun to stop so we went to the hatchery. Is that better?
If you’ve never been to one, there are rows and rows of tanks holding millions of fish from babies to “munters” as Grafton calls them. It’s completely gated in so I allowed Grafton to run from tank to tank screaming “fish” at each one.
But as toddlers do, he pushed the boundaries and began dangling over the tanks for a closer look. And that’s when I began to yell. The yelling turned into frustration and I ended up carrying a 32 pound toddler through the gates screaming at the top of his lungs. People stared and my heart ached of embarrassment. And as usual my apologies began to the strangers inside the hatchery gates and to our friends who were being forced to leave with our screaming Grafton.
I claimed he was tired or maybe hungry. At the time all of those were true but really he was just being a pain. A spoiled rotten pain in the rump and there’s no better way to put it.
My struggles are not uncommon – parents will yell, children will scream, and the age of the child nor the parenting style can change that fate.
It wasn’t till after reading this self-help book that I realized we are all trying to find the answer to being a better parent, Hell, a better adult. Grafton doesn’t need to see me apologizing for his actions, or to see me being embarrassed by them. He needs me to build him up and to stand up for him. His age shouldn’t define him and I shouldn’t use it as a crutch when a tantrum begins.
My favorite quote from Dell’Antonia states, “Luck won’t always fall their way. Sometimes we will ache for them. Sometimes we will be struggling not to say ‘I told you so.’”
“Give your child the distance she needs to experience her own emotions without a sense of being responsible for yours.”
So parents, quit apologizing, see their side, take their side, and parent them the best you can.