A few days ago a dear friend mentioned that she was upset because one of her children had said some pretty negative things about her that really hit home. She knew she was struggling in those areas and it hurt that her child was using them against her. As parents, we spend most of our time trying to raise our children with love and discipline while also secretly hoping they don’t see our faults. When it becomes apparent that they do, it is crushing. How have we slipped up and let them see our fallible side? Why have they found the most hurtful thing and thrown it back in our face?
Why do they hurt us?
The simple answer. Because they can.
They know that no matter what they say – no matter how cruelly they throw out words that they are only barely able to comprehend – we will still love them. They know we are there for better or worse. That even though they have hurt us deeply, we will still be there for them during their worst pain. We are their parents, and there is never an end to that.
Do you remember the sweet baby days? The days when they smiled just because you walked into the room? Or the toddler years when they could barely walk but could give you the most fabulous leg hugs? Or how about the early elementary years when an “I love you more than all the stars in the sky” was a frequent phrase?
Well, they’re gone.
They’ve been replaced with this preteen/teenager who is suddenly smarter and wiser than you. This person who rolls their eyes when you try to explain why they aren’t allowed to do something. This person who tells you “No” when you ask them to take the dog out for a walk. This person who says that you are a bad parent because you insist on them doing their Algebra. This person who is full of hormones and angst and mood swings. This person who can rip your heart out and then stomp off to their room as if they haven’t just mortally wounded you.
They can be cruel and manipulative.
They live with you and know you.
They know just what to say to hurt you.
So, what do you do in those moments when all you feel like doing is hiding in the closet with chocolate?
Well, you hide in the closet with chocolate.
You take a Mommy Moment. You walk away from them before you irrationally join the fray and make the moment much worse. You find your peaceful place, and you take a breath. You let yourself be calm. Be still.
Then, you remember all the wonderful reasons why you decided to homeschool…why you decided to have children. You remember that this person who is saying these very adult things, is still just a kid. A kid who is trying out their independence on the person they can count on to still love them even when they’re being, well, a jerk. Because, honestly, we all have jerk moments.
Then, you throw away the chocolate wrappers. Wipe the tears away. Get up and talk them.
Because you are still the parent.
You are the one responsible to teach these children how to interact in society. They have to know that lashing out at people isn’t ok. They have to know that what they did hurt you. You aren’t a super person. You’re a real person with real feelings. They have to be disciplined in acceptable behavior.
Discipline – verb- to train or develop by instruction and exercise especially in self-control. Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.
And remember… they do love you.
They won’t tell you the way they used to, but they do. This struggle is a defining part on their road to independence and it, too, will pass to the next phase. So, hang in there – and don’t forget the chocolate.