Parenting on Purpose
Let’s pretend I’ve been blogging this whole time. As if blogging meant living life and not typing a word for 6 months because you got to live in order to tell a story right? It’s all part of the process. But it is a small shame this process took so long.
One of the reasons I haven’t occupied this space in a while is because of the exhaustion I feel at the beginning, middle, and end of every day from parenting these children. For example, this morning before my alarm even had the chance to welcome me into this day, Noah’s lethal screams jolted me out of the deepest, loveliest sleep. This is why we’ve nicknamed her “pterodactyl.” Have you ever heard a pterodactyl scream before? It’s deadly.
If you’ve landed on this blog before then you might have stumbled across this article concerning our strong-willed child. If not, give it a read so you have a little bit of an idea of who we’re dealing with and how I’ve handled things in the past.
I never really believed in the “terrible two’s” because Shiloh, my first born, breezed through her two’s like a true saint. This year Noah entered her second year of life and decided to challenge everything I thought I knew about parenting and discipline. She broke me. Her persistent screaming pierced through my soul and killed all the confidence I had in all my parenting techniques. Nothing I did worked. Nothing I said mattered. When this child didn’t get what she wanted, it was hitting and screaming and throwing and screaming some more.
These actions directly represented my failure as a parent. It didn’t matter how hard I tried to tell her she couldn’t act like this, or she couldn’t hit me or her sister, or how many time-outs I put her in, we were getting nowhere. Because I felt like I was continually failing, my attitude worsened.
Noah, you are the worst!
Noah, why do you have to be so terrible?
Noah, you are absolutely crazy!
I love you Noah, but you can’t be like this!
And then one day I heard it. I heard the words I was declaring over her. I was telling her she was terrible, so that’s what she became.
It was one of the biggest wake up calls as a parent thus far. As a parent who strives to be as intentional as possible with my words and actions, I couldn’t believe how I was behaving. I was so concerned with her behavior that I managed to ignore my own. Every time my parenting style didn’t work, boiling anger would lead me into my own internal tantrum. So of course all my efforts to be an conscious parent flew quickly out the window.
Finally aware of my own behavior, I started asking myself…How did I get here? Where did I go wrong? This was not this hard with my first child, why am I failing now?
And then I realized this very simple detail…Different child. Different approach.
I believe one of the best positions you could be in as a parent is to understand that you need help. I know we all like to believe we know what we’re doing, but the truth is we don’t. And the beauty in this is there are plenty of people in this world who study this stuff! Save yourself the embarrassment of asking your mom for help and pick up a book, listen to a podcast! If you just look, there is so much research out there ready for you to try. But if we can humble ourselves enough to ask for help, I think you’d be surprised as to how much life can drastically change.
My first step towards recovery was reaching out to one of my parenting gurus (her FOUR children are the most free, well-behaved, respectful humans that ever lived). After sharing my story with her, shedding some tears and getting on my knees begging her for some advice, I learned that very lesson. She just plainly said I needed more tools in my toolbox because each child requires different tools. And because I always take her advice, I set out to find these foreign concepts.
I started reading No Drama Discipline and within the first few pages, my perspective of discipline drastically shifted. And then by page 9, I already had a couple new tools to combat tantrums. Fifteen minutes of reading that day shifted the atmosphere in our home that evening and I realized we weren’t all going to die. We didn’t have to live in this psychotic, stressed-out, scream-fest kind of life.
And then thanks to Instagram, I found @simplyonpurpose. A mom of four girls with the mission to empower parents to be confident and see how many options we have as parents to raise good humans.
One evening, per usual, Noah was moving into tantrum-mode and I could feel my blood begin to boil. After raising my voice and catching myself getting to my breaking point, I just yelled, “YOU ARE KIND NOAH!” And just like that, her sour little pudgy face immediately turned to smiling. She placed her hand on my cheek and started saying “I kind. I kind.” And just like that her attitude turned to joy. Her screaming turned to laughing and whatever it was that got us there in the first place was over. I will forever remember this moment. The first time I said this to her, it was like a magic wand was waved and our fairy godmother turned misery into tranquility.
The words we speak over our children hold more power than I think we realize. Telling her she was kind, even though she failed to behave that way, transformed how she saw herself in that one moment. We are all capable of kindness. We are all capable of goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who raise us are responsible for teaching us this truth.
Because I went looking for help, our lives have drastically shifted. And I don’t mean Noah has become the poster child we all dream of having. And I definitely could use a lot more help as these girls reach new stages of life. If there’s one thing I learned through this whole process, kids are going to be annoying. They are going to suck all the life out of you. But if I can remain humble and ask for help, I can change.
And because I changed…she changed.