DR. CELESTE CATANIA-OPRIS, PH.D., LMFT
There are moments which completely confuse parents. For instance, tantrums, slamming doors, and talking back are all experiences we tend to question. Simply put, why are our children behaving this way?
During these times of feeling disrespected by your children, challenge and ask yourself, “What Is My Kid Trying To Tell Me?” Their actions have meaning. Whether it be, “Mom, I still need you but I need space right now because I am frustrated and I don’t know how to put into words why.” Or rather, “Dad, I am glad you are there for me, but I feel like you don’t always respect that I am getting older and I am starting to form my own opinions about how I would prefer to do things.”
It truly is difficult balancing the roles of a parent. You may believe there should only be one role-- to parent. Absolutely, but learning more about your child and actually getting to know the wonderful human you created can help strengthening your relationship with your child, so why not try to understand them on a deeper level?
Kids yearn for independence but they do not realize that they are not physically, mentally, or emotionally capable of handling certain experiences on their own yet. However, they still want to try. They crave to do things on their own. Give them a chance to do things by themselves before you move in to help. Obviously, assess each situation. If it something can hurt them or another individual, then you definitely will need to intervene as their parent.
Sometimes us trying to “help” is simply trying to make that process go as fast as possible, because there never seems to be enough time. However, if they want to cook, cook with them. Spending quality time together will help you get a better understanding of your child and you may be pleasantly surprised by the conversations you will have together. If they want to do their own hair, let them. For example, you could ask them if they need help getting that bump near their ponytail and so forth. The odds are they will most likely ask you for your assistance, but offering them the space to attempt certain things on their own will make them stronger and more independent individuals.
Kids are just that…kids. They may not always listen the first time you ask them to do something and they may respond with, “I don’t feel like it.” Undoubtedly, it is your responsibility as their parent to teach them right from wrong, but perhaps remind yourselves that they have a personality of their own and they will challenge or question you just as you may when someone asks you to do something.
Choose your battles. One day they will grow up and these moments may not happen anymore. You will remember these times and hopefully smile. These are the memories of your kids, your family, and your life. Remember to share these stories with your kids one day. It may seem silly but your kids will love hearing stories of how they drove you crazy. You will make it through these tough years and one day you may wish to re-live them all over again.
Celeste Catania-Opris, Ph.D., LMFT, offers therapeutic services to individuals, couples, and families. Visit www.TherapyForModernHousewives.com.