REGRET IS A COMMON EMOTION for parents as they look back. God humbles us never more than through the eyeglass of bringing up our children. He uses parenting to give us a glimpse of what it might feel like to be God (but without godly attributes).
The Purpose In Parenting
Regardless of whether we achieve it or not, or how well we achieve it, the purpose in parenting is raising well-adjusted children to adulthood, and to support them with our encouragement through our whole lives.
This purpose can only take effect, generally, if we establish within ourselves the ability to master one broad aspect of self-management.
One quality of our personhood stands to see us achieve our goal, more or less, depending on how well we assimilate it. The key question is, how well do we understand and deal with our stress?
Whether it’s anger or leniency or the lack of time given to parenting or any other reason or combination of reasons, it’s only adjacent to the point. These are usually symptoms revealing the presence of an underlying cause.
Problems in parenting, noted especially in unhappy children, persist so long as the parent feels continually out of control (for whatever reason). Many other visible problems occur because of this sole cause.
All parents will feel out of control from time to time. It’s how we restore control that’s the key issue. It’s only coming at these problems from a realistic, rational, logical, responsible, and reasonable viewpoint that we can do that. This requires momentary stress harmonisation—the ability to conform stressful situations into everyday calm.
Consideration for Stress Harmonisation
1. Provided we’re educated—and implicitly motivated—around the reasons for quality parenting, there is generally only one core barrier to being an effective parent as I’ve mentioned. That is, how we manage stress—ours firstly, then how we help our children with theirs (as much as that’s possible).
2. Patience is the key. Ironically, with few exceptions, there are probably few others on earth that will test our patience more than our children. It’s not their fault; it’s just the way it is.
3. The attribute of patience is developed in the heat of the furnace of everyday life. We can’t ask for our patience to be developed and then resent the arrival of the opportunity. As a habit, it needs practice to eventually flourish. The patient person has enabled their capacity to harmonise stress.
4. Let it be said, too, we find it difficult to be patient with others if we can’t first be patient with ourselves. Parenting starts within, as does our approach to any relationship. Our self-concept needs to be healthy and continually adjusted to reality.
5. None of us will get it perfectly right; indeed, all of us will get it wrong. The point is what are we characterised by—are we normally patient? There isn’t a parent alive who doesn’t feel the sting of regret for impatient acts now done and dusted. But, it’s the future that counts; what we are able to put right or do better next time.
6. Interestingly, being able to harmonise our stress is about being honest with our feelings and dealing with them—but not with the children, unless by way of apology for having transgressed their feelings. A great deal of healing can take place when we own our actions and make restitution via apology. But otherwise, children should be saved the burden of processing their parents’ negative emotions.
Children need parents established in the practice of their adulthood—rational, patient, discerning, honest-with-their-feelings, happily imperfect human beings. Everyone gets stressed. Harmonising stress, though, has to be a parent’s key prerogative. It’s the best hope for raising well-adjusted children to adulthood, and enjoying the relationship beyond.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.