Parenting isn’t something you can teach yourself overnight or even over 18 years. No two days, weeks or months are ever the same in a parent’s life. And let’s not forget, if you’re a parent to several children, what may have worked for Jason probably won’t work for Alicia.
One thing many parents face when raising kids is reaching their breaking point. That point before you want to go upside your child’s head but won’t because you know nowadays all it takes is one phone call to child protective services. Or that point before you want to take all of their belongings and throw them out on the street. Or that point before you want to head to your local dispensary and inhale and exhale away the stress of parenting. But none of these have to happen, if you realize there are other options.
Grandmaster Flash once rapped, “Don't push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge,” and as a mother of a 15-year-old, I find that not a week goes by when this lyric doesn’t run through my head. Throughout my parenting career (because this s—t is hard work), there have been times when I’ve wanted to pull out my hair and scream or even go on strike, like one mother in North Carolina. But I realized that I was the one in control and in charge, and I wasn’t going to let someone I carried for nine months, and for whom I endured 12 hours of labor, push me over the edge.
The parenting breaking point is real, but it doesn’t have to break you or your child. Nowadays, when the going gets tough when it comes to parenting, there are a few options you can employ so you won’t end up on the nightly news.
1. Who’s the master? You, sho nuff.
Remember that you’re the one in control and in charge. I wish my child would act as if he’s the one making the rules in the house and paying the bills. But if your children do, be quick to remind them that they’re not. Easiest way to remind them that they’re not in charge? Take away everything they didn’t pay for. So long, Xbox. So long, sneakers. So long, TV. Adios to everything your hard-earned money bought. Let’s see how long they last without their extra amenities.
2. Grown people do grown things.
If your children want to act as if they’re grown, just show them how being grown sometimes sucks. Give them a bill to pay after you take away their allowance. Let’s see how long they sulk and be disobedient when their precious Internet and cable are about to be disconnected. Sit back and relax and make them cook dinner. And don’t accept any Top Ramen.
As Martin Lawrence’s character said on Bad Boys, “Woosahhhh.” Breathe in. Breathe out. Take a few minutes for yourself if you feel you’re about to break or break out the belt. Remind yourself that you are the parent. You are the one in control of the situation. If praying is your thing, that may help. A few moments alone can help defuse situations and help you avoid confrontations with kids.
4. Phone a friend or family member.
Sometimes the voice of reason doesn’t belong to the mother or father, but occasionally to a family member or friend. I remember several times in my childhood when I’d rather have taken the advice of my grandmother than my mother. There have also been times when my son was more receptive to what his own grandmother or aunt told him, even though it was probably the same thing I’ve said, just worded differently.
5. Run for the hills.
Or run up and down a few hills. Just don’t run away from home and abandon your children; you’ll get in trouble. Running is a stress reducer and can allow you time to clear your mind and refocus on your parenting objectives. I’m not saying re-enact the New York Marathon, but a run around the block a couple of times may help. Or hell, as a punishment for a disobedient child, make him or her lace up those sneakers you took away and hit the pavement.
6. Never let them see you sweat.
The last thing you want children to see is that they’ve won or that they’ve pushed you over the edge. Even if you are at that point, put on your best game face and carry on with your life. Leave them sitting there and wondering. Let them marinate while you carry on with your normal day. Sure, they’ll probably wonder, “WTF is going on?” Let them. Eventually they’ll realize they don’t have the upper hand.
Parenting isn’t cut-and-dried. Every child and situation is different. But one thing has to happen: Parent your children; don’t let them parent you. Once that happens, it’s hard to regain control. Like someone once told me, “I brought you into this world, and I have the ability to make it hell for you.”