Yesterday was a rough one. In the span of a half hour I experienced the highs and lows of parenthood, the good and the ugly (we skipped right over the bad). It started when I picked Little up from school. All was going well; we were laughing and joking around as we walked back to the car. We decided to stop and get a snack on the way home because we had a long commute ahead, and Little had a long day. As we were walking through the store, Little said something to me that was a tad bit disrespectful. I called her on it, and we kept moving. A few minutes later, she said something else. I stopped dead in my tracks, called her out on it again, and told her we were going to leave the store, minus the snack we came there for. She started crying, attempted to explain her behavior, and asked for another chance. I obliged, thinking we were good to go. Not two minutes later, it happened AGAIN! Needless to say, Little was not happy as we left the store empty-handed.
Now, I’m the type of parent who wants my kid to be able to express herself. I don’t ever want her to feel her voice is being diminished, or that she’s not being heard. If she is sad or angry, even if the anger is directed towards me, I would rather her express herself than keep it bottled inside until she explodes. Sometimes, however, this is a slippery slope, as an 8-year old speaking her mind can come off as disrespectful if not done properly. As we were driving home from the store, Little completely lost it, and had the ultimate meltdown in the car. She must have been uber hungry, because she was practically wailing over the situation, snot dripping down her nose and all. Through the sobs, she attempted to express her feelings, rationalize her behavior, and even blame some of it on me. For the most part, I took it for what it was, but was left wondering: Am I expecting too much from my 8- year old?
Situations like this are difficult for me, personally, as I have a tendency to lose my cool when I feel my buttons are pushed, regardless of who is pushing them. Though I strive to show empathy to my kid, I too have a breaking point. In trying to teach my child positive anger management and self-soothing skills, I feel I am partly to blame for her inability to carry out those skills. I often find myself wondering how to balance discipline with empathy and education, all while trying to work through my own issues.
As a single parent, how do you handle those stressful situations where you have to be the good guy and the bad guy, and hold it all together?