We expect so much of our kids, don't we? But when we misperceive their ability to handle themselves well, we make things hard on everyone involved. That's the gist of my new article at mom.me:
I hear it from parents all the time. They’ll come to my office and say, their voices full of frustration, “He’s capable of handling himself well. He does it at school and usually at home. But then there are times he just acts so immature and freaks out.”
Sound familiar? Does to me, too. In fact, it sounds just like my kids.
And like these parents, I’ll sometimes take the next, seemingly logical, step and assume that the fact that a child can often make good choices and handle herself well, means that she can always do so.
A father in my office last week described his daughter like this: “She wants things her way. And if things don’t go her way, she might lose it; and she could clearly make a better choice. I know she can deal with stuff well, she just chooses not to.”
Again, this can seem like a logical conclusion. But is it? In other words, if a child often, or even usually, handles herself well, does that mean that when she doesn’t do so, she’s being manipulative or somehow choosing to make things hard on her parents so she can get her way?
Let’s apply it to ourselves. Could someone say something similar about you as a parent? “She’s capable of parenting well. She does it lots of places, and usually she handles herself great at home. But then there are times that she just acts so immature and freaks out.” I don’t know about you, but if someone said that about me, my only response would be, “Guilty as charged.”
But obviously, you and I don’t have bad parenting moments because we’re intentionally acting belligerent so we can get our way. Manipulation implies that we are calculating. But when we mess up with our kids, it’s because the emotions get the best of us and we temporarily don’t act like the kind of parents we want to be.
You see the point I’m making. Just because we parent well lots of times, doesn’t mean we can parent well all the time. The way we handle ourselves really depends so much on