You know what I’ve been thinking about?
This meme or post or quote I once saw on Facebook that had written in huge bold letters something to the effect of:
“DON’T YELL AT YOUR KIDS AND THEN EXPECT THEM TO HAVE A GOOD DAY.”
And when I saw it my initial reaction was, “that’s a really good point.”
And it impacted me in such a way that I felt guilty every time there was conflict with my children in the mornings. And with getting five kids ready for school every single flipping morning, there is bound to be some kind of conflict.
They either want to sleep in or are mad you didn’t wake them up earlier. They want to dress for summer in frigid temperatures and vice versa. Brushing their teeth and wearing winter coats are not cool options and asking if they’re ready to go can either send them over their metaphorical ledges or be cause for them to gleefully skip to the car ready to face the day.
And on the days where the mornings were essentially hell in a hand basket, that saying would pop into my head and I’d try to find a way to turn the flailing morning around.
But yesterday I couldn’t.
Because a couple of my dear loves had behaviors that demanded consequences. They were disrespectful and rude and belligerent and you know what? That’s just not acceptable.
Why do I feel the eyes of judgement penetrating through the screen as I type this. For some reason I have it in my head that we are supposed to let our kids feel their feelings and not correct them for it.
Go ahead and cancel me now because I think that’s fucked up and I disagree with the sentiment.
Now here’s the thing, I tell my kids all the time…
They can be angry.
They can feel angry.
They can disagree with the rules and not like them.
They can speak up and we can discuss it.
But being angry does give them the right to be mean.
Or disrespectful or rude or belligerent.
Anyway. I couldn’t get the fruit of my loins to take time and space to feel their feelings and come back to a calmer conversation.
They are young and spry and ready to fight at a moments notice. Ah, remember having the energy and desire to assert your opinion and win an argument?
I’m too old and definitely too tired for that shit.
So voices inevitably escalated and after school grounding-consequences ensued.
And I thought, “they’re gonna have a shitty day today and maybe I shouldn’t have told them their consequences before school and now the tone for their day is gonna be a downer and I did the one thing some random Facebook post told me not to do: I sent them to school angry.” And to be honest, I was pretty pissed off myself.
But then I thought, “fuck that and fuck the bullshit meme.”
Because you know what I believe to be true? Kids need consequences and they need boundaries.
We can’t make our kids have good days every day.
And even if we could…should we?
I don’t think so. I kind of think that mentality erases the human experience. Conflict will arise in their lives and their actions will have consequences.
Why wouldn’t we practice that at home? Why wouldn’t we teach them to accept responsibility? Why not teach them how to navigate the hard things?
Just because we don’t want them to feel bad?
I’m gonna digress for a smidge but it’s going to circle back so hang with me.
There’s also this saying in marriage “don’t go to bed angry” and again I say fuck that.
Go to bed angry.
And I say that as someone who used to hold onto that bullshit saying like it was the actual Gospel.
And I would badger my husband into resolution all in the name of not going to bed angry and you know what usually happened? We all got angrier.
Because sometimes you need time and quiet and fuck, you just need some sleep to process the day’s events and formulate clear thoughts.
I mean, we are so focused on instant gratification (I’m looking at you same day Amazon prime deliveries) that we have forgotten that it’s all a process.
Conflict resolution is a process.
And I think we need to give ourselves permission again to take the time to resolve it.
Take a moment or 50 to be angry.
It’s taken me 35 and some odd years to realize that is called self awareness.
And self awareness is magical. And healing.
Then when you have that awareness for yourself you can effectively communicate that to your partner.
And here’s where we circle back.
When your kids act out, It’s okay to make them slow down and recognize their feelings and not act out in them.
They can have bad days if they’ve made bad decisions.
It’s okay to put them back in line. It’s okay to tell them that their behavior is not okay.
So sometimes they are going to go to school mad. And sometimes their mornings are gonna suck. And maybe that will set the tone for their day.
Or maybe we teach them that nothing is so catastrophic that they can’t recover. That while they have to accept responsibility for their actions, they are also responsible for their feelings.
They can choose to turn a shitty morning around.
They can be held accountable and still be productive.
And they are always loved.
It’s not up to us as parents to erase those moments or overlook them because we want them to feel good.
I kind of think if we keep in that mindset then we are gonna raise a generation of people who only know how to throw temper tantrums and don’t know how to compromise.
They won’t know what it means to slow down and they definitely will be clueless when it comes to working towards real change.
We are going to raise a generation of kids who don’t know that what they want isn’t all that matters. The world doesn’t revolve around our precious people.
I know. Cancel me again.
We are going to raise kids who lack empathy and courage and kindness.
I just think we should love our kids enough to let them have bad days.
Teach them to stop and think.
Show them how to slow down.
But here’s the kicker: we, the parents, have to do the same.
So maybe it comes back to the age old adage: if we want to change the world (or raise good kids) then we need start with ourselves.