Posts Tagged: Parenting

My Parenting Fail Hat-Trick

There are some days that I feel pretty great in my role as parent. Maybe I’ve handled a difficult situation calmly or I’ve made a meal that everyone enjoys and there’s no squabbling at the dinner table. Then there’ll be a day like last week that makes me feel like I’m failing as a parent.

My daughter sent me a text, clearly articulating all the reasons she was upset with me.

1) I had made her a sandwich that had cucumbers on it (she hates cucumbers). 

2) The night before, I had forgotten that she was working and needed the car, and told my husband he could take it.

3) She’d had a really important day at school yesterday, and I hadn’t asked her about it at dinner.

Wow. Having all those things pointed out so matter-of-factly hit me hard and I did my best to try to smooth things over. I thought I’d deal with the lunch fiasco first, in a light hearted way. “Well, you’re lucky, I forgot to make sure your brother was up and out the door early for band practice, and he didn’t even GET a lunch!” and, “Wait, you hate cucumbers? I thought you hated CARROTS!” Then came my helpful advice, “Just pick the cucumbers off.” When attempted humour and defensiveness didn’t work, I turned to justification for the next two issues. “It’s so hard to keep everyone’s schedules straight,” and “I was going to ask you about your day, but you mentioned it before I had a chance.”

If it had been just one thing she wouldn’t have felt so upset, but THREE? That was a parenting fail Hat-trick! She felt unloved and for that, I was heartbroken, and I felt guilty. I asked if we could get together that night and talk about it. She said “whatever” but I took that as a positive sign (ever the optimist)! She had a poetry book that she’d ordered that had just arrived at our local book store so I made a special effort to pick it up and bring it home as a peace offering. When I knocked on her door with the book in hand, she was thrilled. We hugged, I told her that I loved her and that I was so sorry that I’d made her feel badly. She apologized too and assured me that we were good.

Here’s what I learned that day:

1) Perception is reality. My actions made it seem that my daughter wasn’t important to me so that’s how she felt, even though that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
2) Healing starts when you say you’re sorry.
3) It was never about the cucumbers. That was just the final straw.

Do you have any experience with parental guilt or parenting fails to share? Come on, we’ve all got ‘em!

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

Making the Cut: Children Dealing with Disappointment

Making the Cut: Children Dealing with Disappointment

With such a big family, I’ve always told my kids that they can’t be on travelling sports teams. When my children have asked to try out for such teams, my response has consistently been, “There are enough kids in your own city that are good enough to play with you.”

But, I have this one kid who loves hockey and wants to play all the time. She noticed that her friends who play on “rep” teams get to be on the ice a lot more than she and her house league pals. Her perfect day would include no less than three games of hockey.

She began her campaign to get me to change my mind, and presented a plan that detailed how we could manage her hockey schedule if she was on a rep team. My wise kid had already recruited her aunt, who committed to be the “hockey parent”. My little hockey player even told us how she planned to contribute financially to offset the extra costs. She won. I allowed her to try out. Basically, she’s a really good kid who can be crafty at getting her way.

But when she got cut from the team I realized just how awesome she really is.

I had gone to one of the try-outs and it was pretty clear to me that everyone there was bigger, faster and stronger. She’s only been playing proper hockey for two years. She was on the ice with girls who were older and had several years of rep hockey under their belts.

The coach had told the girls he was looking for hard working hockey players. Since no one works harder out there than my kid, she figured it would earn her a spot on the team.

When the e-mail came saying she was cut from the team, she told me she’d just have to practice more for next year. I didn’t see tears, I didn’t hear, “it’s not fair,” and I certainly didn’t hear her say, “but I’m better than so-and-so.” She just wants to practice more.

So, I’m proud of my daughter for getting cut from the hockey team. Her actions tell me that no matter what happens, on or off the ice, that she is confident and resilient. Nothing she can do in a hockey game can make me more proud of how she responded to that disappointing news.

How has your child responded to disappointment? Have you had to deal with a similar situation in your house?

The PANK Perspective: Pet Loss & Explaining Death To Children

The PANK Perspective (Professional Aunt, No Kids) – by Diane Morris

My brother and his wife bought a pure bred Golden Retriever the year before they got married. Their dog was beautiful; long blonde hair, big paws and large brown eyes. She was rebellious and always got into trouble. She liked to eat food off the counter, maul you when you walked through the door and bark incessantly at the mailman. She seemed to mellow out a bit as she aged, but remained playful – especially with my nephew.

When he was born, the dog took to him. They became buddies; curling up on the couch watching cartoons together, camping out in a homemade fort of blankets and furniture cushions and swimming in the lake together in the summer. My nephew considered the dog to be one of his first friends.

Suddenly and without warning, the dog passed away while playing with my parent’s dog. The vet said it was a heart attack. My poor Sister-In-Law was home alone with her two boys when it happened. My parents were away, my brother and I at work. My SIL had to explain to my nephew what happened.

“Sydney got sick and went to heaven” she first told him. Questions ensued.

Thinking later that telling him that the dog was sick wasn’t the best choice of explaining what happened. She feared that telling him that would cause him worry whenever he caught a cold, or someone in the family fell ill. So, she told him that it was simply the dog’s time to go to heaven. She described a place of peace above the clouds and that Sydney would be watching over him, but wouldn’t be back to play. He was confused.

When I saw him the next day to give my condolences to my brother & SIL, my nephew blurted out, “Aunt Dee, we don’t have a dog anymore.” I told him that I knew and that I was sorry that Sydney had to leave. He just looked at me and then asked if I wanted to play tag. I chased him around the living room wondering if he missed being chased by the dog.

For a few weeks after, he didn’t mention the dog much. We figured that since he’s so young, losing the family dog didn’t affect him as much as it had his parents who had raised her over the past 6 years. Then one day he asked his Mom, “Can Sydney come home and play now?” With tears in her eyes she explained to him once again that Sydney was gone and living in heaven. She asked him if he had any questions about heaven and he said no. Then just moments later he said, “I wish I had wings like Buzz Lightyear so I could fly above the clouds and visit Sydney.”

He understood that heaven was a place above the clouds, that he needed to fly there, and that Sydney was there. But did he understand that Sydney had died?

It was heartbreaking to hear the news of the sudden death of a young dog, and to hear the honest and innocent wish of my nephew. But, there is a part of me that is thankful that his first experience with death was from the family dog and not from a grandparent. Trying to explain to a child that they will never see someone they love again has got to be one of the most difficult conversations to have with your kid. I think my SIL did a good job and pet loss was a learning experience for her to prepare her for more conversations and explanations to come about life.

How did you handle explaining death to a child? What does death look like to a 4 year old? How do you prepare for that explanation?

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

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