Aside from the law, life comes with it’s own set of invisible societal rules which, as a parent, we feel we are expected to follow.
Children should sit down when they are eating.
Children should use a knife and fork.
Children should go to bed when they are told, and at a reasonable time.
Children should be out of nappies before pre school.
Children should say please and thank you.
You know the ones, the list is endless.
When our children do not conform to these rules we, as their parents, feel like we’ve failed.
Well, allow me to let you into a secret!
As a parent, well actually, as a human being, you have your very own mind, body and soul, well, that’s no secret, however, the secret lies in, who is in charge of making the rules!
The rules you make are not set in stone! Rules CAN change! And more importantly the rules you make do not have to conform with those societal rules.
Yes, conforming to the world’s norm, those societal, unwritten rules is the ‘easy option’. I’m not suggesting they are easy to adhere to, but easy, in the sense that we naturally take them on board as the norm, and we happily except and allow them to become our own personal rules. However, this ‘easy option’, that we all know and strive to adhere to, is NOT the only option.
If you or your child feel like a failure everyday because for whatever reason, you or they can not abide by these rules that you (or society) have created then, change them!
If you change the way you think you and your child will succeed. Let me explain…
Morgan has ADHD and as a young child he never went to sleep before 10.30pm. (it’s even later now!)
Does that mean as a parent I failed everyday single day for not ensuring my child was in bed at a reasonable time?
According to those unwritten societal rules, yes I did, I failed! I was one of those crap parents!
How did I feel? Yep, pretty crap!
I used to spend many a night, screaming, shouting, crying, threatening and punishing him for not going to bed when I had told him, at what I believed to be an appropriate bedtime for a child of his age.
I was angry and stressed because I felt like a complete failure and he was angry and stressed because I was cross and upset with him. We both dreaded bedtime.
Who won? Nobody!
Eventually, I was able to stop and think about what I was doing and rethink what I was actually trying to achieve. Thankfully, I realized that I was actually trying to adhere to an expectation that didn’t fit my values.
I believed, and still do, that bedtime should be a calm time, where you can talk about the day, read a bedtime story, relax in a safe environment and look forward to the new day ahead.
This was far from where we were!
I came to the conclusion that these values meant more to me than following the expected societal norm, to have my 4-year-old in bed by 7pm! So I changed the rules!
For our family this meant, as a younger child, I would expect Morgan to be in his room around 8pm (I love him dearly, but I’d had enough of him by then!) he would generally entertain himself for this time, with that well known virtual babysitter, the ipad (another unwritten societal view). I knew that Morgan didn’t ever fall asleep until 10.30pm at the earliest, so, the bedtime routine began at 9.30pm. It was calm, he had a bath, we read a story, talked about the day past and the day ahead. He was tired by this time and he went to sleep.
Who won? We all did!
I was no longer a failure. And more importantly, Morgan was no longer a failure. I had stopped setting Morgan up to fail, he was no longer three and a half hours late for bed. 7pm, that evil hour in my head, the time that I used to dread, just became another number on the clock and the bedtime routine became one hour of calm instead of three and a half hours of hell.
Did society still judge me as a bad parent for allowing my child to go to bed at 10.30pm? Yes of course, but, they did when I was failing at the 7pm bedtime routine so, there’s no escaping! At least this way, he was able to follow my new, yet achievable rules, we were both calm and we were both happy.
Of course, it’s not really a secret, but, I feel it’s something that we often forget.
You are in charge of your own mind! You are in charge of making the rules. Make rules that work for you and your family, don’t lose sight of your values, to for fulfil someone else’s expectation.
Changing the rules will abort failure and create success and will transform sadness and stress into happiness and achievement.