goldfish wisdom
nigel latta

Relax... we're all sometimes bad parents



It would be nice to think we were all great parents all the time but, of course, we aren't. If you can be great some of the time, average some of the time, and really crap only occasionally, that's not a bad score. It's worth remembering that most of us didn't have perfect parents either.

It would also be nice to think that none of ever bellow at our children, but of course most of us do. This is just another fact of parenting life, and something we usually feel bad about afterwards. From time to time though, a bellow can be a very effective way of getting the little people's attention. The trick with bellowing is not to do it all the time. Bellowing all the time is like overusing an exclamation point: it just get's tiresome.

"Look! I get tired of the fact that no one ever listens! Really tired! All I do all day is talk and talk and no one ever listens! You need to listen to me! Put the teddy down and listen! When I ask you to do something I expect that you will do it! So do it! Right now! Now! Now! Now!"

Boring, huh? All those exclamation points reduce it to little more than a very loud form of nagging. If you bellow all the time, stop. It isn't working. If it did you wouldn't need to bellow all the time. Instead you should try very hard to speak very quietly, and impose appropriate punishment, and praise, with an iron determination.

If you are going to bellow, save them up, and use them wisely. Bellow at just the right point, and you will probably get a reaction. Better still, once it's out of your system you can go back to the stuff that actually works to improve behavior.

Most of us worry that our children will hate us if we bellow. They won't. Your kids won't hate you if you're not perfect, so just relax about all that stuff. They will, on the other hand, hate you if you're mean. Fortunately there's a world of difference between periodic bellowing, and meanness. If you're mean to your kids, then stop. If for no other reason than one day they'll be bigger than you.

So that's it really... don't be mean, and just do the best you can.