As an educator and family coach I have met with too many teary eyed and angry parents struggling to accept their child’s challenges. This guilt can often over power responsible action. As I tell all parents: It is not your job to make the perfect child; it is your responsibility to help them be the best they can be and to love them unconditionally. Today I am sharing a guest post from a wise ADHD coach offering the essential tools to conquer the help guilt and move forward responsibly.
#4 Ways to Mold Parenting GUILT into Parenting Responsibility
By Judy A. MacNamee; ADHD Coach
The American Heritage Dictionary defines parenting as: “The rearing of a child or children, especially the care, love, and guidance given by a parent” However, Morrison, (Chas E Merrill, 1978.), adds that parenting is “the process of developing and utilizing the knowledge and skills appropriate to planning for, creating, giving birth to, rearing and/or providing care for offspring”. I see it as a combination of both, inclusive of love and guidance coupled with knowledge and skills.
Yet, this perfectly cornered definition or any other one that you may have in your mind can be smothered often by parental guilt; guilt for not being there enough, guilt for yelling, guilt for divorce and guilt for working two jobs. You know…that list goes on and on because if a family, albeit it one or two or more parents, have a child with behavior and/or learning difficulties, it must be someone’s fault!
If you are taking time to read this, chances are “guilt” has engulfed you within its web. Unfortunately, the ramifications of guilt’s emotional grip don’t always end there. It may come and go initially, but the longer it continues to return the more chronic and even obsessive it can become. Self-blame can also rear itself in forms of enabling, misdirected blaming, anxiety and constant battles with yourself and your family.
As an ADHD Coach, I have witnessed parents’ feelings and expectations resonate within their child. The child may take on ownership of this guilt (no matter where it may stem from) and personalize their inability to meet those “perfect” expectations expressed or even internalized.
Lying and lack of motivation are often behaviors seen in teen clients as they struggle to avoid hurting mom or dad. Children may then avoid their own feelings and struggles complicating the parenting issue even more.
Enough discussion of the deep black hole of guilt, let’s look to opportunity and what steps a parent can take to look through a healthier lens and realize that there will be no perfect child? I am presenting four (#4) steps that you can begin today or even right now to begin down that road of change.
First, as a parent, we need to take some self-reflection and begin to rid of those limited beliefs. Listen to “your” story. Does it include the word “should” within the web of guilt? Let’s change the wording from “should” to “want” or an “opportunity to have.” Change the story you are telling yourself and reflect on that. Pause; look at the patterns that may have developed and what is one small step you can take today, to change it. Journaling will strengthen that, as well.
Secondly, look back at our original definition of parenting. “-process of developing and utilizing the knowledge and skills appropriate…” Parenting IS a skilled process! Just like your child didn’t come out of the womb with organizational skills, you didn’t evolve into adulthood with the skills needed to parent your family. If you feel that you need more skills; think of it as a continuation education of the parenting kind, then look to invest in counseling, parenting workshops or other community groups that can provide situational skills. You will get better and better and when you begin to see results, the family dynamics will change too.
Thirdly, focus on the process, not the result. Parenting is not a competitive event where scores are kept to see who wins. I know, there are those out there who do like to keep score, aren’t there? It is a life-long process and it’s that we must keep in sight. Try to move your focus from the goal(s) to the love, care and guidance and embrace each moment.
Lastly, don’t do it alone. Find a friend for support. Join a Facebook Community Support or Parenting Support Group. You are changing possibly years of engrained habits and feelings that will take time and you will want that support from others, just as you can support them.
Parents always say the years go by so quickly. Focus on one day at a time and realize you are the best you can be. Take the responsibility for the love, the caring, the energy put in to the process and enjoy the ride!
Judy MacNamee is a former educator and founder of ADHD CoachConnect, in Columbus, OH and can be reached at www.adhdcoachconnect.com where you can sign up to receive her monthly newsletter. You can also follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AdhdCoachconnect