Despite Samsonite pleadings to spare him inhumane torture and emasculation, I occasionally bring my 10 yr old to get his hair cut. Once as we waited, a 7 year old boy was jerking about and screaming on his mothers lap as she tried to control him. I remember the look on her face: sad, embarrassed and powerless.
Others communicated their disapproval with eye rolling, huffs, puffs and shaking heads. To their credit it was not your “typical day at the salon.” As most 7 year olds have adjusted to the haircut experience, I was certain the child had developmental delays. I looked directly at the mom, smiled and said loud enough for everyone else to hear “It’s OK, he’s just afraid he’ll walk out of here looking like me (bald)!” She laughed as she fought back tears of exhaustion and relief that someone noticed and took away her shame.
Not every parent has a special needs child. But we’ve all experienced parental shame—times when we feel like a horrible parent because we let our child down, we blew up and blew it, others are judgmental toward us because we don’t parent the way they do, or perhaps we acted like our own parents, despite childhood vows never to do such a thing. This type of shame is deflating and disempowering—buying into it leads us to feel helpless and resigned. This isn’t good for parents or children.
When you feel shamed as a parent, remember:
“Parent” is not synonymous with “Perfect”. Of course you’re going to make mistakes, even some biggies. No one expects you to be perfect (except you)—even your child. Give yourself permission to make mistakes and course correct.
Remember No one has it all together. Not even the experts. That’s right, no even me. We all have “issues.” Looks can be deceiving. Just because people don’t talk about their parenting foibles doesn’t mean they aren’t happening. They are. To everyone. Trust me.
Good Parents raise Good Kids Who Still Make Poor Choices. One of the great mysteries of Christianity is God’s audacity to give us a free will. That doesn’t start at adulthood—it is in us from the beginning. Young people make decisions for a variety of reasons many of which have little or nothing to do with you.
When Kids Feel Your Love for Them, They are Resilient to a Multitude of Parenting Mistakes. When young people know we love them, through spending time with them, involvement in their interests, setting healthy boundaries, keeping tabs on their whereabouts, specific verbal affirmation of who they are and are becoming in addition to their accomplishments, they aren’t ruined by a bad incident once in a while.
Doing something your parents did, which you vowed never to do, does not mean your child’s experience of that will be like yours. Just because your dad worked a lot and you felt cheated by not having enough time with him, does not mean that your hectic work schedule will contribute to your child feeling cheated, nursing a lifelong abandonment wound.
Read good current books and blogs. Read old stuff as there is wisdom out there that is never dated. Read current blogs to stay abreast of youth culture trends, behaviors and interests. Audio books are a great source of information as well.