Here’s your opportunity to learn more about the parenting styles of each Maturing Mama. No Mama is exactly the same in her parenting skills. This is our opportunity to highlight our differences in parenting in a means to help you find a method that works for you.
Do you admit to/let your kids see you struggle in life?
I wouldn’t say I let my kids see me struggle on purpose, that’s for sure! Haha.
The other day my six year old, Esperanza came to me and said, “Mommy I never see you laugh”. That huuuuuuurt! It hurt so bad. If you grew up with me you’d know me as the goof ball. Always making light of situations and quick to make others laugh. I’m usually the type to find the joy in tough seasons.
So to have my six year old say that she’s seeing the truth, that I have lost my joy and am often sad- made me feel like a failure. I don’t want to admit to feeling sad or even admit to crying a lot- which my daughter has also said she noticed. But this is my reality.
It’s not easy to explain to my kids the truth of every struggle I face. But I do my best when they ask questions to answer honestly. Recently I was hurt by someone they knew personally and they noticed I was sad and noticed that person wasn’t coming around anymore. So I explained that said person was very mean to mommy and it made mommy sad. So now said person cannot play with mommy anymore.
Now I notice Esperanza saying these things in moments when a friend is mean to her at school. She has learned that when friends are mean, it’s ok to feel hurt and to set boundaries. I’m so glad that my struggles have atleast taught her such a big and important lesson.
I am now learning it’s ok to be honest with the kids about financial struggles. This is something I never wanted them to know about. Especially because I remember feeling the weight of my family’s financial struggles when I was a kid.
But I now see the importance in this to remind the kids to be grateful for the food we have and not waste it. As well as the toys they have, to not be careless with it. They are now understanding that Mommy and Daddy don’t say no to simply be mean- but there are times we simply do not have the extra funds for these things.
The very first time my son Walter knew I wasn’t okay, I told him I wasn’t. Walter was three or four years old and I was in a state of depression. I had just had a stillbirth and we lost our baby girl. Walter’s sister had died. I was smoking weed and cigarettes chronically. I stopped eating. I was angry, sad, and numb all the time.
One day, I was in the bathroom and Walter was there with me. He looked up at me and said “Mommy, are you sad?”
My first response to him was, “No! Honey, I’m not sad”. That didn’t feel right to me, so without wasting any time, I told my son that I was most definitely sad. I told him his instincts were right on. He obviously could sense I was unhappy and heavy. That I was sad.
I realized in that moment how important it was for me as a mother to teach him to trust his instincts. The last thing I wanted to do was to teach him not to trust his instincts by confusing him with an answer, that I was okay when he could feel that I wasn’t.
I decided then and there that I was going to be honest with my son about my struggles.
Since then I have realized how important it is to live an honest life with my kids. Whether I’m having a good moment or a bad moment, I tell myself that what my kids need as an example is the kind of mom who can fall and show them that falling is normal in life. That nothing can hit as hard as life.
“Life isn’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you get hit, get up and keep moving forward.” – Rocky Balboa
I talk to my kids mindfully, openly and honestly about the big stuff. To me the big stuff is my struggles with anorexia and my mental health challenges with anxiety and depression along with my addiction issues with drugs, cigarettes and alcohol.
I don’t pretend to be perfect with my kids. I show them I’m human and that everyday I devote myself to bettering myself. That everyday I aim to be better than the person I was yesterday.
For instance, I’ll say something like this:
“Mommy got really loud just now because I am overwhelmed. I am yelling too much and I realize that this might be scary for you. I need a moment to breathe and reconnect. To do that, your job is to put your shoes on for school, my job is to finish making my coffee. When that’s done we are going to leave the house. I need it to be quiet now so that I can concentrate on my job. Thank you Walter.”
To an extent. I definitely will admit to being wrong, and I will apologize if I do or say anything that I feel sorry for to them or to other people in front of them. However, I don’t always expose my struggles with mental health, like anxiety or depression.
Kids are so empathetic, that they pick up on energy. So even if I’m not feeling my best, my boys (who are five years old) can tell. But it’s important for me that they feel safe with me. So I’m cautious to show them all my colors and especially the depths of my valleys.
Perhaps exposing struggles is ‘age appropriate’. I’m sure when they are older I will talk to them about mental health and my struggles with it, but for now I tell them that Mama is having a tough day, but I’m trying my best to get through it.
On my own I may allow myself to dissolve into a puddle, but with them, I really avoid those types of actions, and I try to find a place of calmness, surrender and peace as much as I can — which can be tough to do!
My two children are very little at the moment (20 months and nearly 3), however something I have always done and would like to continue to do is talk them through theirs and even my emotions.
I feel like the answer to this question has a link to a previous Mama’s perspective about whether we apologize and admit our faults to our children, to which I answered yes and to this I also answer yes, but to a degree.
If my struggle is one that they can clearly see and it affects them, I would like to work some or all of it out with them. The reason being is that I want them to know and understand (to the best that they can) the challenge and/or circumstance that is causing struggle and that there are things you can do to work through it. I do aim to be careful in my wording when doing so.
I also think it’s important to remain strong and teach them resilience and perseverance.
My nearly 3 year old is at that age where he wants to be independent and do everything by himself. But that is often a struggle that causes frustration. He will sometimes stop what he’s doing, say he’s not doing it anymore or even throw it. In response to this I say to him, “What does Mummy say when things are a bit hard?” He immediately responds, “Try again” and I encourage him to persevere and also that it’s ok to ask for help.
I feel like this is a great motto for myself and our family. To know that it’s ok to ask for help (easier said than done I know) and that we should never give up.
Life comes with some very big struggles and no, the children don’t need to know the complete details of each and every struggle, but if it is causing discomfort and a range of emotions that is noted by the children and also would affect their thoughts, feelings and the whole atmosphere in general- how I as a parent respond to that could be a very important lesson and/or inspire them as they face their own struggles.
Struggles may come, but working through them makes you stronger. It’s ok not to be ok, but it is so important to reach out.
I don’t think my kids have a choice but to watch my struggles haha. My first struggle is that I explode to fast. I don’t see it coming. For example, tonight I asked my kids to clean their room (they are 6 and 3 and get distracted easily, which is normal). I had told them about 478 times that day to clean up.
They finally came to me and said it was done at the end of the day, so I went in and it actually appeared to be done! Then I opened the closet and a drawer- they had shoved the entire contents of their room into them. I raged!
Another example is when I cook a great dinner and no one will touch it. Out of no where I throw the BIGGEST tantrum, like worse than my 1 year olds. In that way, the kids see my struggles. I always go back and apologize for being so reactive. Slowly I am learning how to not be as reactive, but that will take a lot of time.
Another struggle I show them is my need for clean. I think it’s important to keep a clean and orderly house so they can explore and learn better. When there is a big clean space for them to play in, they play better and longer. I definitely take it a step too far though and want them to clean up the moment they are done playing. I need to remind myself that this is how they learn the best. By taking everything out and exploring with it.
Honestly I would love to hide my struggles from my kids. I feel like I put a lot of my frustrations on them and that isn’t fair. But at the same time they do need to see my struggles so that when they are struggling, they know that they are not alone. They’ll be able to think back and remember how I didn’t have it together all the time. And that, that is normal. Then maybe I can help them figure out how to regulate better, because maybe I’ll figure it out one day 😉