When the Challenges of Parenthood Seem Like Too Much
We all get to that point, don’t we? When the daily grind of it gets to us? Whether it is the routine stuff that you have now repeated 5000 times – like “Where does your bag go when you come home from school?” to “Please go back to the bathroom and clean up after your bath.” – or whether it is the troubled child who has everyone stumped or the “lazy” one who would rather stay in bed until ten every day than get to school on time…the strain and wear and tear can sometimes just feel like too much.
I am going through one of those periods right now. And just when things looked up and we had some breakthroughs with some “kid challenges”, things nosedived once again. So, what do we do? When we’ve reached well-bottom and we just don’t want to have one more conversation with the principal, or drag our kid from bed for the millionth time? What do we do?
There are many ways to go about this, and each parent might tell you their tried and true technique. But, in my experience, each time is a new learning experience. Each time, we are challenged to come up with a unique teaching lesson for ourselves and our kids to get us through this particular challenge. Because, when you look at the bottom line, no two kids are the same, even if the same scenario comes up. And, no two circumstances are the same – whether this is your kid’s second or fifteen hundredth time dragging his feet out the door, usually there is some unique aspect to change the rules on how to deal with it. Like this time he is not feeling well. And last time was just after he had a reprimand from his teacher requiring a parent teacher meeting. There are almost always new circumstances to consider.
This thought can be very daunting. Continued endless creativity? Continuous reinvention of disciplinary action?
Well, here are two aspects that I take comfort in:
1. Although each challenge requires thought and ingenuity, there are some major principles of discipline that we can establish in our homes that can be used as the guidelines, or backbone if you will, of our disciplinary habits. Certain rules that are never to be crossed, or, if they are, will always require fast and firm action. Other rules that may bend depending on the specific circumstances under which they were tried or crossed. And other less strict/set guidelines that may be in place for a specific time period, ie while on vacation.
These backbone guidelines, set by you and your partner, and sometimes even with the input of your children, are the skeleton from which you will operate. So you may need to tweak, add a new dimension, but there is and should be some overall structure.
2. The ability to be continually creative, while perhaps sometimes daunting, can also be seen as an exciting aspect of parenting. Imagine if the discipline was as repetitive and humdrum as the transgressions that caused them. Part of what we find frustrating in the continual transgression-lesson learning chain is the repetitiveness of it. Requiring new creative ideas is really a way of keeping us out of an all-too-boring routine which is unlikely to bring results by the very fact of us needing to repeat it so often. Sometimes repetition is necessary for the learning of lessons by the young and brain-forming creatures among us. Sometimes it is a sign that what we are doing is not breeding results: hence, ingenuity comes into play.
And, like I already mentioned, ingenuity is just part of the discipline game of being specific to the child and scenario and timeframe. And, of course, our energy stores. :)
But here is what I really like about being creative. We do not need to rely only on ourselves for this creativity. We do not need to feel like it is a burden. I find that my most creative ideas come when I pose a question or challenge and then just do my part, or wait. Suddenly, lightening idea strikes and a solution I could not have easily thought of on my own if I had pressured myself into think-tanking, plays itself out in my brain and becomes a solution that is not only easy and fun to implement most of the time, but extremely effective as well. Why? Because it is higher wisdom. Because we are not meant to parent all on our own. Because there is a third Parent with infinite creative power and creativity that wants to be an active member in the raising of our children, to the extent that we will allow it. And that is all one thing – G-d. And when we allow our creativity to come from Him, well, that brings parenting into a whole new ballfield. One that is more expansive, holds greater possibility, sees faster improvements, and, inevitably, considerably less frustration. Now, we may just turn toward this as a failsafe when we just do not have the energy to deal with one more thing… But why not allow this to be the first place we turn to? Why not move the whole discipline camp into this new greater upgraded ballfield? It sure sounds good to me.
With love and continued strength to all us parents and disciplinarians,