Everyone always says they don't want to end up like their parents. And then, at some point in our parenting career, we do something that our parents did.
There is an Oh Shit moment.
I had that moment this morning. My mother was, and continues to be stoic with her feelings. She didn't express a lot of empathy or sympathy towards our childhood pleas. She despised whining. She always told us to fight our own battles. I understand that she was trying to encourage my younger sister and I to become independent and strong women. I get it. But, sometimes we needed the coddling. We needed the support of our role model, our Mom--we were little kids after all. We needed to be shown how to respond, how to behave, how to fight back.
So, I have found myself lately acting in the same manner towards my toddler. He is capable of doing simple tasks by himself-putting his shoes on, taking off his clothes, climbing up into his car seat. But, he refuses and gives a fake attempt and then says-Nope, I cant. Then he whines for me to help him. Knowing that he can do things on his own, I have been strongly encouraging him to do it himself. He will then cry about how he cant do it and whine more. The cycle of whining and crying will escalate the longer I insist he do it himself. I reach my wits end, and end up yelling, he cries because I have hurt his feelings and he thinks I am mad at him (rather then frustrated at the situation). We end up in a no-win situation.
I realized that I was not being empathetic to my son. I was looking at the problem and only wanting to move towards the solution; without allowing myself to feel for him and he plight. I wasn't allowing myself to see that he was really upset over me not helping him. I began to wonder if he was upset for the same reasons I was as a child? Did he feel abandoned by my refusal to help him? Am I do more harm than good by not helping him?
So, today I am slowing down. I am taking it easy on him and myself. I am lowering my expectations. I am choosing not to yell, and instead I am trying to look deeper into him and look at the reasons he is refusing. I want my boys to trust me and know that I will always be there for them. My love is unconditional. Yes, they will have to fight their own battles still, but I hope to be able to provide them with the tools they need to succeed.