“I know the day will come when he won’t talk to me anymore.” Parents say this to me in my pediatric office all the time. There is an idea that one day teenagers, particularly boys, won’t want to talk with their parents anymore. But that is simply not true.
Parents can create a family culture of communication so that kids will keep wanting to talk with them as they get older. And that’s not only great news, it’s essential. Because when things get tough for our kids, it’s important that they know they can come to us.
More than anything, parents want to do their best for their kids. But every parent I know lives in the pressures of the ShouldStorm, which bombards them with shoulds. Always telling them what they should and should not be doing to maximize their child’s development.
Now, new research from the University of Chicago has shed light on a sinister way the ShouldStorm actually drives parents to undermine their child’s development, all while thinking they are helping. It all comes down to what parents are told is good for kids.
Mom rage is something moms don’t talk about. The ShouldStorm tells us we should be patient all the time. But moms feel anger and it’s normal.
As parents, our stress has been through the roof with back to school coming up. We are all wondering how we are going to make this work? But sometimes that stress shows up as anger, and that can make moms feel terrible guilt. It’s time to talk openly about it.
The first time I spoke an editor at Psychology Today, and she offered me the chance to blog for them. I was really excited to start writing about what’s going on with parenting these days. How could we parent effectively with all the anxiety in our culture?
But then she said something that surprised me. “This is going to be great,” she said. “We need a pediatrician to be telling parents it’s going to be okay so they can stop worrying so much.”
When you think of youth sports what feelings come up for you as a parent? For me, as a parent and a pediatrician, it makes me feel tired. Don’t get me wrong, being active every day is important for kids with growing bodies. Yet for so many kids, youth sports is more a life absorbing career than the one hour a day of play pediatricians recommend.
Parents face a culture of criticism and anxiety, and so do their kids.
Parents can’t avoid the culture of criticism that pushes perfectionistic parenting. They are told everything they do matters, and that one little mistake could mess up their child for life. Then, they are told that parents are too anxious these days. They are pelted with advice on how to worry less because anxious over-parenting is… messing up their children.
Every day in my pediatric practice parents ask me advice about screen time and social media. How much is okay? Is screen time bad for kids? Should parents try to control it when kids get older, or are the teenagers old enough that they should be managing it themselves?
“Recently (in the last 2-3 months) my 3 year old son has become very vocal and insistent on being heard. Particularly when I’m in the room. If I’m trying to talk to anyone he starts holding a separate conversation and then shouts ‘I’m trying to talk!’ How can I honor him but still be able to have conversations with other adults???” This question came from one of the moms in our Should-Free Parenting facebook group, and it echoed something I hear a lot.
We were supposed to be going to Hawaii. It had all been planned months ahead of time. Of course it had. This was going to be my first time and I was excited. We wanted to make the best of it and maximize our time, so I worked through Thursday, and our flight was early Friday morning.
We use shame with our kids because it works. Sure, we try not to, we know it’s not the best. But here and there, under pressure, it pops out and it’s kind of a relief because we finally get compliance. Except that we’re causing a much bigger problem down the road.
Has someone criticized you or said something shaming to you lately? It feels like a slap in the face. You may feel it as the unpleasant tingle of a blush starting on your face, tightness in your throat and nausea in your belly. Or perhaps you defend yourself from shame by reacting with swift anger. So it won’t surprise you that your kids react to shame this way too.