Put Down The Stick

I am truly horrified that currently today there are sections at the bookstore about dealing with “mother’s guilt.” Morning news programs are interviewing moms who have such guilt and how it is affecting their lives. We are living in this culture of praise where we can’t tell our children no. And if we do, we are burdened then with guilt.

Someone recently asked me how my daughter was. She followed up by asking, “Is she a diva, yet?” The focus plainly on the word yet. First of all, the word diva shouldn’t be associated with any woman or man under the age of 30. Simply, children should not be divas. However, it is certainly happening. parents feel that they have to provide their children with perfection. This idea of a perfect life. With that comes great disappointment on the child’s part followed by great guilt on the parent’s part. I should bite my tongue, but the truth is parents do this to themselves. Our children are not born expecting us or their lives to be perfect. Guilt is something we do to ourselves! No one can make us feel guilty except ourselves. Our children do not expect perfection from us. We impose that on them. They are not born expecting anything from us.

I actually heard a woman being interviewed one morning say that she felt guilty for giving her children chicken nuggets. I literally stopped in my tracks. “This woman cannot be serious!” I said to myself, out loud. Why in the world would there ever be a reason for feeling guilt about serving a child chicken nuggets? I guess I must make the disclosure that I don’t think chicken nuggets would be the ideal thing to eat at every meal, but I know that is not what this woman was referring to.

Now if you hand your kid a plate and sit them in front of the television to eat in solitude, maybe I can see why you’d feel bad. But a meal of nuggets with some fruit, and a veggie rounded out with some great conversation is a winner in my book! Our children have no predisposed expectations for gourmet food! What they need is a family around the table sharing conversation and being engaged with each other. That should be the focus and not what is necessarily on the plate.

I had a conversation a while back with a very wise woman. I was, at the time, feeling guilty about one thing or the other and she said a very simple but powerful statement. She said, “Melanie, put down the stick.” I knew exactly what she meant! Stop beating myself up. There is no need.

Feeling guilty does not make us better mothers! It wastes our precious time with our children and adds stress to our already complicated lives. What makes us better mothers is learning from our mistakes. That, and remembering that our children are people too. They understand mistakes, they understand trying again, and they understand when they feel truly loved. Children don’t innately want perfection. They want to feel loved, supported, and safe to try new things. They want to feel valued and appreciated.

So get over it! Get over the “ills” of frozen food and for Pete’s sake put down the stick!!

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

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