Being a parent is the hardest job I have ever done. Straight up, the hardest. Forget all the craziness of ministry life. Parenting trumps all jobs. Hands down.
I strive to be the best parent ever. I work so hard to make sure my kids are provided for, that they are cared for, and most importantly, that they know they are loved. But what I’m finding out is that it’s very difficult to achieve this honor. I’m not even close to any “Mom of the Year” award. I can forget hanging that plaque on my wall.
I’m not a perfect parent. I don’t know how to handle every situation that is thrown at me. I don’t always give the best advice to my girls. I worry too much about them. I find it hard to keep my cool at times. And that’s why sometimes I think I’m a bad parent. And I don’t want to be. I want to be a good parent, but I have this fear that I’m being a bad one.
In Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love, she says:
“I heard recently, ‘If you are worried about being a bad parent, you are probably a good one.'”
That is so true. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling like I’m a bad parent. I believe there are many of you out there that feel the same way. And I want to let you know that I’m with you and we are going to get through this fear and our way of thinking that we are bad parents.
Each post I write this month will focus on a reason why we think we are bad parents. The list is long, people, so let’s kick it off with one that I know we all do:
YELL AT OUR KIDS!
If you say you don’t yell at your kids, then I know you’re not telling the truth!
All parents yell at their kids, for one reason or another. And most of the time we end up regretting it and feeling guilty about it because it was for the dumbest reason ever. We lose our cool and we snap. It’s hard to remain calm at some moments in our parenting career.
I am going to be open and honest and share with you one of my “losing my cool” moments. So…don’t judge me.
If you ever want to see me yell at my children then just come to my house in the early morning when it’s time to wake them up for school. Nothing drives me crazy more than people who won’t get out of the bed!
I’m an early morning person. When the alarm clock goes off I am up. The shower helps to wake me and then I get ready. I am a pretty happy person in the morning….that is, until it’s time to get my kids out of bed.
Every morning I am happy when I walk up those stairs to their bedrooms. I turn on the lights and in my most cheery voice say: “Rise and shine pretty girls!” (All you non-morning people are hating me right about now). I give them all hugs while their eyes are still closed and that’s usually met with grumpy groans and screams. Sometimes I might even dance and sing, which is usually followed by loud yells from them to stop it. I very kindly tell them to get up and do their morning routine. Then I walk back downstairs and continue getting ready.
I give them a grace period…usually 10 minutes then I yell again to get up. After another 5 minutes…another yell. And then, if they still aren’t up then that’s when I snap completely. I scream and yell and tell them they won’t earn their ice cream for the week (yes, i do bribe my kids). It’s not pretty, people. If my sweet neighbors aren’t up yet, then they probably are now because of all the yelling.
We get out the door and into the car and that’s when the guilt slaps me in the face. I feel terrible about yelling at them about waking up and getting ready. It’s stupid. I feel silly. That’s when I have to apologize. I know I can handle their inability to rise out of their beds in a timely manner in a better way somehow. And then we pray in the car and we all agree to start the day over. (And amazingly we make it to school on time every day…which I believe is by the grace of God).
Do you remember your parents yelling at you when you were a kid?
I’ll preface this by saying, I asked my mom if she was ok with me writing about this moment. And she said yes. It’s our big family joke now and we all think it’s a great story of love and forgiveness.
One moment that sticks out for me happened when I was in the 2nd grade. At school we made pilgrim boys and girls out of construction paper. They were so cute with their pilgrim hats and collars. They were even displayed at the art show at the mall (why don’t they do those anymore?). After the art show, my pilgrim girl came home, she became the centerpiece on our kitchen table for the month of November.
And then one night, that pilgrim girl saw her demise.
While we sat around the table at dinner, I accidentally spilled my milk. And that’s when I saw my mom snap. It was scary. She yelled at me so loud and then she grabbed my pilgrim girl. I stared at her with eyes full of tears and screamed for my pilgrim girl. But my mom had already lost her cool and she ripped my pilgrim girl into tiny pieces. I was devastated, to say the least.
A little while later, my mom came to me with tears in her eyes and apologized for what she did. She said she just had a bad day and snapped when the milk was spilled. It was like the final straw in a day of stress and craziness. She was so very sorry and wanted to help me make another pilgrim girl. I forgave her and we hugged. Then together we re-created that beautiful pilgrim girl, which still sits on my mom’s kitchen table at Thanksgiving every year. And we all joke about that story.
When I was talking to my mom the other day about this, I asked her if she remembered what happened that night to make her snap. She couldn’t remember, but obviously said it had been a rough day for her. If you know my mom, then you know how kind-hearted and sweet she is. Not a crazy mom.
But what I told her the other day, is that I understood NOW how she must have felt that night.
No one knows what it’s like to be a parent until you are a parent.
As a child, I couldn’t comprehend why me spilling milk would make my mom yell and scream like that. I had no idea why…until I became a parent.
Does yelling at my kids make me a bad parent?
Not at all.
Will my kids think that I’m a bad parent when I yell at them?
I don’t think so.
Just the other night I asked my girls if they remembered times when I yelled at them. They both said ” in the mornings”, and we all laughed. No ill feelings toward me for those crazy morning yellings.
We all must realize that there will be times in our parenting lives when we will have to yell. But sometimes they will be for the dumbest reasons ever. Don’t beat yourself up over those moments. Don’t feel like you are the worst parent ever. Know that those moments are going to happen and remember and be thankful that there is a God who forgives us. And children that forgive us, too.
One way to work on those “crazy parent” moments, is by remembering Scripture. Here are some helpful Scriptures for you:
“Do not be quick to anger, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools” Ecclesiastes 7:9
How many times do we feel like fools after letting harsh, loud words spew from our mouths toward our children?
“Do not let the sun go down on your anger.” Ephesians 4:26
Go to your children and ask for forgiveness after your moment of craziness. Do this before you go to bed.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
This is what I pray over my girls every morning, that they be kind to everyone. Even in those scary, yelling parent moments, may we remember this verse and be kind (and firm if needed) to our kids. And may we forgive each other, too.
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6
Now isn’t this an important one to remember in those brief moments before you snap? I needed to hear that one!
Parenting is labor-intensive. It’s hard work. It’s tiring. It’s crazy. But we are not bad parents if we yell.
“If we worry about being a bad parent, then that probably means we are a good one.” -Jen Hatmaker