Parenting challenges greet you every morning, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
It may start with “what’s for breakfast” and proceed to “we’re gonna be late for school!!!” It may continue throughout the day with a text that says, “I’m sick” or a call that says, “your child is in the principal’s office.”
Honestly, there is no end in sight. My kids are 25, 28, and 31, and although they are living on their own and my parenting has dramatically changed from hands-on to hands-off, I still face challenges. How do I react to their choices? How much do I offer to help financially? How do I handle it when they date someone I don’t like?
As you face each day, here are the 5 biggest challenges you will encounter. I’d like to share them with you and tell you how I kept (and still keep) them from driving me crazy.
The desire to fix your child’s problems
This is an instinct for parents. They don’t like to watch their kids struggle and the urge to jump in and fix is the default for them when they see it.
This fixing habit will drive parents crazy if they give in to it every time. It causes stress, arguments, conflict, and the end result is kids who do not know how to solve their own problems because they always had mom and dad to do it.
I learned to break this habit by asking myself two questions: What does my child need to learn from this situation? And What is the best way for me to help them learn it?
Work on making those two questions your default. It will take time to break the fixing habit, but in time your mindset will change.
The need to feel affirmed and appreciated
Parents are taken for granted by their kids and there are seasons when it seems to intensify (like the teen years!). Although parents can exist without the affirmation and love from their children, it can result in feelings of dissatisfaction and martyrdom.
I never liked myself when I became a martyr, so I battled back with these reminders:
Someday your kids will appreciate you.
Your job is to protect, guide and love, not to appease them.
And then I would treasure those moments of love and appreciation from my kids when they did happen. And remind myself of them when I was in an affirmation and appreciation desert.
The need to see them happy
It’s easy for parents to be at peace when the kids are happy and thriving. But when kids don’t get the playing time they want in youth sports or when they are having friend conflicts, and when they are depressed or frustrated with life, parents tend to carry those burdens too.
Your child does not need you to always try to cheer them up or solve their problems for them. Your child does not need you to be discouraged with them and walk around with a heavy heart as you carry their burdens on your shoulders. Sometimes they simply need to know you are listening, loving, and supporting them.
Of course there are times when they need a boost from you, but if that doesn’t work you must not take on the responsibility of making them happy. As long as they feel your love, they will get through whatever is making them sad. Of course, if they become depressed, I’d suggest seeking professional help.
The urge to second-guess your parenting effectiveness
Parents are always learning and making mistakes, and then doubting themselves. I should have handled that differently. I hate myself for the way I talked to my child today. I do not know if this discipline strategy is really going to work long-term.
All that any parent can do is the very best that they know how to do. A shoulda-coulda-woulda mindset will only add angst to your parenting. Your kids do not expect perfect parents!
However, I might also add that you should always remain teachable. If you think you know it all as a parent and don’t need insight from anyone who might have wisdom to share, you are probably missing out on some personal growth opportunities.
One way to remain teachable is work with a family/parenting coach like me. Schedule a free 15-minute coaching call to learn more.
Feeling weary and wondering if you will ever feel on top of things
Perhaps one of the most consistent challenges faced by busy parents is the feeling of weariness that overwhelms them.
Parenting duties, work, and household management are consuming, and when you try to add in a social life, you are probably left with little time and energy to stay afloat of all that’s required of you.
I think I felt that way for several years! And in the midst of it all, I tried to keep my focus on what was most important: my family. I knew that eventually, the season would change from craziness to empty nesting and all the time spent on the kids would now be up for my grabs.
Let me just say this to parents who feel weary and overwhelmed: pick your battles, choose your priorities, and let the rest go. If you can’t learn to let go of some things, you will end up taking out your weariness on your family and that is good for no one.
Parents, can I just say that you must stop being so hard on yourselves? Grow with your kids and the result will be a happier home.
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.” – Joyce Maynard