How many times have you said “My kids are driving me nuts!”? Have you ever totally lost your cool in front of your kids because their animal like behavior drove you to madness? I think we all have and as crazy as those little (or big) monsters can make us, it’s completely normal to lose your sanity but have you ever thought about how your reactions can affect your children? I know I didn’t until recently when I totally lost it in front of my kids and started crying. On top of scratching her brother and making him bleed, my daughter was hell bent on arguing every word that had come out of my mouth! I couldn’t get her to do anything and I was exhausted! Finally I threw my hands up, starting crying and stomped back to my room slamming the door behind me to pout for a while. A little while later when all was calm again, I heard little footsteps walking up behind me. When they stopped I turned around and there was my daughter with open arms wanting a hug. I couldn’t resist and when I hugged her back she told me she was sorry.
Fast forward to three weeks later and I was tucking my daughter in for bed. We somehow got into a conversation about how people can do things that make us angry and it is okay to cry and she asked “Like how I made you cry?”
My heart nearly broke when she said that! I didn’t realize how my words and reactions when I get upset had come across to her. She felt responsible for me crying and there is never ever any reason why our children should feel responsible for our emotions. We all know how awful that guilt is when you feel as though you’ve emotionally hurt your child. Now imagine being a child and feeling responsible for making mommy cry? That has to feel awful and I had to stop her right there. I took her hands in mine and I told her that although I got upset and cried that night that it was not her fault. Not one bit her fault! I told her that no matter what happens we are always responsible for our feelings and reactions. No one can make us cry and no one can hurt us unless we let them. I also told her that even though I cry sometimes and seem angry that I love her no matter what and that I would never change a single thing about her.
Being a parent (single or not) has its insane moments and we all know there are times when we want to shout, cry, run away and tell our kids that they’re CRAZY. It’s impossible to be a parent and not lose your cool sometimes and it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent at all. It just means that you have emotions and that you care…that you love your children. If you didn’t love them, you wouldn’t care enough to let them get to you emotionally but love especially the love a parent has for their child can be an emotional volcano that erupts no matter how hard you try to keep it all in. Don’t beat yourself up for it. I learned a long time ago that beating yourself up for getting angry only serves to make things harder. It’s much easier to forgive yourself and reflect on what it was that made you lose it. And next time, just try to do better.
But the most important thing you can do when you temporarily lose your sanity is to remind your children that it’s not their fault. Did they misbehave? Maybe and that is a whole other subject that can be addressed but it’s not their fault that you got angry, cried or yelled. Here’s why. Your children, whether you know it or not love you unconditionally. You can never do wrong in their eyes and they want nothing more than to make you proud. Making you proud of them is everything to them and when they feel that they’ve let you down, it is heart breaking to them. Not only that, but our children need us to show them that no one can ever take control of us. They need to know that no matter what, they’ll never fail us. They need to know that they can take responsibility for their feelings and not allow anyone to ever break them down. That they always have a choice to either let others determine how they feel and act or that they can determine how they feel and act. Letting your child know that even if they make a mistake they are not responsible for causing you any pain is what unconditional love is. Let them know that when they behave in a way that is not loving and respectful to others, it’s not the others that they are hurting but they are only hurting themselves.
Your children are not responsible for any pain you may feel so although you may want to tell them they’re driving you crazy, just think twice before you do. It’s your choice to get angry, sad, hurt or whatever. And if you do let your anger get the best of you, it’s okay. Do what you need to do to cool down and make sure your children know that it isn’t their fault that you got angry and that you love them unconditionally.
We are not perfect and that’s what makes us perfect. The answer is always LOVE.