“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough.

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhood

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhoodI don’t usually post this often–3 times in one week–and I don’t usually hit the keyboard furiously the second I finally get all my kids out the door. But today, I can’t help it. My heart is racing, my head is pounding, and I feel like, if I don’t write, I may just hop in the car and head to an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time.

 

Why is parenting so darn tough?

Today, I lay the “psychologist” aside and speak as “the mom,” and really, just as “me.” Why is parenting so tough?? It shouldn’t always have to be tough, right? We should feel like it’s tough only sometimes?

To me, it feels like it’s always something. Maybe it’s because I have six kids. Maybe it’s because with so many, the needs just keep flowing like a never-ending river. Maybe it’s because my four oldest are all teenagers now, and that means they live in a universe in which they are the center and everyone else must fall into orbit according to their daily gravitational pull (or mood). Maybe it’s because my husband’s been out of town most days the past weeks, with another trip coming up, and I’ve been going solo for too long. Maybe it’s because, try as I may, I never seem to get a full night’s sleep (except a week ago Saturday when my husband “took charge” for a day and I actually slept for 11 hours!) The more tired I am, the more “crazy” I feel (and act). Maybe my hormones are starting to kick in again (let me check the calendar—a little over a week away? Maybe. Maybe not.)

 

My kids are driving me crazy—again!

Yes, my kids are driving me crazy–again–and it’s a cycle that seems to repeat about every six weeks or so. They get incredibly lax on things like, oh, chores, getting to bed, getting up on time, remembering to do homework or take it to school, personal hygiene, etc, etc, and I get pushed and pushed by the piling of these “little things” until I go on a rant of some sort, which makes them listen and makes me feel guilty (I really do not like getting so frustrated with my kids!). This motivates us all to regain some order in the home, to make apologies, to work a little harder. And this brings peace once again…ahhh…until we start to get too tired and too busy and too lax again, and voila! The cycle repeats.

 

It just makes me feel better to let it out…

I know I may be facing social media mockery and isolation by writing my true feelings—or rather how I truly feel today

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two "forgot" their lunches this morning, again.

Left the milk out, and their breakfast. And, two “forgot” their lunches this morning, again.

—about my kids and parenting. All I ever seem to see on Facebook are posts about how great other people’s kids are. Yes, I have posted my fair share of “success moments” with my kids, too, so yes, I get it. But most days I really want to post, “I’m so proud of my six little kiddos! They stopped fighting in time to actually listen to me (the fourth time they were asked) and do their chores! How did I get so lucky? What a proud mama I am!”

I know, that’s sarcastic, and so far I’ve refrained, because I don’t believe in shaming my kids. Instead, I believe in encouraging them to do better, and today, I did just that. Instead of going on a rant, yelling about all the things they’re not doing right now, (and by yelling and rant, I mean a very long, intense talking to in which they sit perfectly still because they can see if they push even one bit my head might just explode). Instead of this, today, I tried a new approach. Ok, yes, I did “rant” a little after they left by taking pics of all the things I’d asked them to do a million times–for proof, later, if I need it. But, overall I was very impressed with my non-ranting solution.

 

“Kids!–Do This!”

Like my “Lame-o-list”—which I made when I reached a similar point of frustration with my husband and myself (yes, I

It's not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my "Kids! Do This!!" list is definitely effective.

It’s not pretty, and you can see from my handwriting I was working through some issues. But my “Kids! Do This!!” list is definitely effective.

expect all of us to do what we’re supposed to do—even, and especially, me). Similarly, I grabbed a colored pencil (because of course all my pens are lost—again), and in my building anxiety, began to scribble all the things my kids need to remember to do each day and each week, and all the time.

I wrote at the top, “Kids! Do this!” and underlined it twice. Yes, instead of ranting about all my kids have not done, like I would usually do, today I focused on what my kids should do. This is a great psychological and parenting principle I learned long ago: teach kids what to do instead of telling them what not to do. So, I did just that. I wrote a list of all they need to do, because, maybe they just can’t remember on their own. Maybe they just need to be reminded. A million times. Yeah, right.

Well, now, they are officially reminded, as you can see, to the right. They are reminded to change their underwear and put away the milk and do their homework before before school the next day. They are reminded to take the lunches I wake up very early each morning to make for them (because I’m nice like that), and to thank me for making them. They are reminded to turn out the lights and pick up the toys and shoes off the floor so the dog won’t chew them to bits while they’re at school (like she did to every one of her leashes and the items pictured below!). They are reminded to remember everything they need for school before they leave or they just won’t have it, and to actually

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning.

The remains of a maraca, Pinkie Pie pony, pants, packing tape, and a sleeping bag after our dog, Coco, had her fun this morning. This is why we pick things up, kids!

listen when their dad and I are trying to help them or give them important advice. (Seriously, why don’t kids just listen to us? It would make life—theirs and ours—so much easier, wouldn’t it?)

You get the picture.

Writing this list calmed me, and I even saw a few of my kids read the list, and behave extra respectfully to me after they did. Apparently, they can get the picture without me having to say one single ranting word. They can, instead, read my suggestions and do them—or not, but we all know what the end result of that choice will be.

 

Parenting is tough, by nature, but it makes us grow.

The hard truth is that parenting is tough, and sometimes, it’s really tough. It pushes us in ways we never expected and

This "zone" was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

This “zone” was supposed to be cleaned last night. My husband and I both asked two kids to do this three separate times. Ugh.

can make us feel things, and act in ways, we never wanted.

Writing this, I feel like both a terrible parent and a great one all at once. Terrible, because I wish I could just handle the stress that is a natural part of parenting (and especially parenting six kids) without getting pushed to the edge of sanity. Great, because I am learning to handle these frustrations in more and more creative and healthy ways. Yes, parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In fact, I am now recalling I posted something similar to this not too long ago. Let me check… Yes, the last time I wrote about this was in my “Parenting Teens” article, 9 ½ weeks ago. So, maybe I am actually improving. If I can last almost 10 weeks in between my parenting meltdowns, I must be. Yippee!

One more time: Parenting is tough because it forces us to grow.

In my first Skype-in This is How We Grow book club, the other night, the group asked eagerly, “How are all the kids

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

Yes, my sons were making dorky faces on purpose, ruining an otherwise cute pic, but I still love these crazy kids. They sure do help me grow.

doing now?” It’s the most common question I get after people read my memoir. I told them the truth—that they are great kids, trying to do the right thing and be their best, working hard to excel in life. And, they struggle. They’re going through the regular ups and downs of teen and tween years; they make mistakes, grief still hits at times, and they argue just like normal siblings. “It can be hard for us, as parents, to know how to parent each of them in the individual ways they need and not just treat them as a group whole,” I said. “But, I try to see them as individuals and give them individual attention, even while holding them accountable to the same rules and expectations. It’s tough,” I admitted.

“So, it’s just parenting. Still,” one woman wisely said.

“Yep,” I replied. “It’s just parenting. Still. Forever.” And parenting is just hard sometimes–because it forces us to grow.

There are so many moments of beauty and joy and delight as a parent, and there are all these other moments just trying to keep up and get it as right as possible. Parenting is a tough job, but when we dig in and plant ourselves, it’s the best ground to make us grow.

Here’s to growing as parents! And, may the force be with you; if you’re anything like me, you’re gonna need it!

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (again) Why Parenting is so darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Ok, let me have it. Do your kids ever drive you as crazy as mine seem to? How do you handle yourself when they do? What are your thoughts on the tough job of parenting and how it’s designed to make us grow? Leave a comment, below! 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

"My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!" (Again) Why Parenting is so Darn Tough; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #parenting #motherhood #fatherhood

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Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job? www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job? www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWe officially have four teenaged sons as of this week. We still have two younger daughters, but much of our time and energy lately has been focused on the teens. Are they making good choices? Keeping themselves out of trouble? Are they learning the skills they will need before they head out into the world? These questions are on the mind of every parent of teens, and it’s hard.

 

It’s hard because they do mess up, and they do make poor choices, and they do get into trouble. It’s hard because we don’t know for sure if they’ve learned everything they’ll need. It’s hard because it makes us wonder, “Have I been doing a good enough job as a parent?”

 

That’s what I’ve been pondering this week—“Have I been doing a good enough job?” It feels like I’m doing my best, but it can be tough to see my kids make mistakes. It can be tough to hear their criticisms and complaints. Though I know, especially for the teens, it’s kind of like their job to complain and criticize; it also gets to me. Don’t they appreciate what I do for them? Don’t they see how hard I work to ensure they become the best people they can be? Don’t they realize how tired I am and how much I deserve a break?!!

 

That’s what I yelled at them this morning. All six of them—because the younger ones, while not causing nearly as much trouble, are picking up the same habits as their older siblings. I called them together right before they left for school and yelled many things that sounded something like this…

 

“You have no clue how hard Dad and I work for you. Why do we work so hard? Because we love you! And what do we get? Whining. Complaining. Criticizing. Well, guess what? We deserve your respect! And that means you don’t talk back, and you do your chores even if we don’t ask you or force you to do them, and you obey our rules, and when you mess up and get in trouble, you suck it up and take the consequences! And you realize that you’ve got it good, and you have no privileges unless you earn them, and we decide if you’ve earned them, and you don’t criticize us! I can’t take any more criticisms! Do you want to tear me down? Because I feel torn down. It’s not my fault if you’re getting a bad grade or forgot your lunch or if you’re grounded or you didn’t wake up to your alarm. Do you want me to show you what you’re taking for granted by blaming your problems on me? Because I can stop all the cooking, cleaning, driving, money-giving, homework-helping, problem-solving, listening, hugging, and loving I do every single day, if that’s what you really want. Maybe then you’ll see how clueless you’ve all been lately! Dad and I deserve respect! Do you hear what I’m saying? Do you get it?” They nodded silently. I asked my husband to please get them out the door, and stomped into my bedroom, where I did some deep breathing and said a prayer for help!

 

I’m not proud of yelling. It always makes me feel terrible after. I work hard to control my emotions and express them in healthy ways. But sometimes I just lose it, and today was one of those times. I felt embarrassed as I came out and watched them all walk out for their day. I don’t like making them feel bad. But, as my husband said after they’d all left, hugging me, “Thank you for handling that, dear. All those things needed to be said.” They did.

 

Sometimes tough things do need to be said, especially with teenagers. We’re parents, for goodness sake! Not their friends. Parenting Teens-Am I doing a good enough job?; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comWe don’t need them to be happy with us all the time. We need them to learn from us, to obey us, to let us love them and help them and guide them so someday they can do these things for themselves. Sometimes, the best love is a firm “no,” or a tough talking to, or a hard-to-bear consequence. Because if we don’t do it, who will?

 

As I said in my rant this morning, “It is my job to raise you guys with morals and standards and to teach you how to be good people and inspire you to live up to your potential, and I take my job seriously! If you don’t like how I do my job, well, tough! I’m doing the very best I can.”

 

After writing this out and giving it some thought, I believe it’s true: I really am giving this my best. I make mistakes and mess up, but I open my eyes and learn as I go. I correct myself, and I keep on trying. I may have let my kids have it this morning, but I did so out of love. When I check in with myself on how I’m doing as a parent, I can feel that love working in me—pushing me out of bed early in the mornings, driving me all day long—working to grow me into a better person so I can be a better parent. That’s the best we can do as parents, I believe–keep checking in, correcting, and striving to do and be our best.

 

 

How do you know if you’re doing a good enough job parenting? How do you handle parenting teens? Leave a comment, below, and share your wisdom. We can use all the help we can get!

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out my bestselling memoir,
This is How We Grow, available now on Amazon.com!

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No, it’s not usual for me to post three days in a row, but today I simply had to share our New Year’s tradition: family goal-setting.

I started doing New Year’s family goal-setting several years ago, hoping to teach my kids how to set goals they could achieve, and to inspire them to want to grow. Physically, kids definitely grow on their own–too quickly and too big. But emotionally, cognitively, spiritually, and socially, they, just like us, have to work on it. And, just like us, they must be taught how.

I made a short video, below, that explains it all–part of my brand new “3-Minute Parenting” YouTube series (which goes along with my 3-Minute Therapy Series). I hope you’ll take three minutes to check it out, then read the bottom paragraphs. Your kids will thank you for it. (Someday.)

 

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A few More Tips on Family Goal-Setting

The point is we can do better than just hoping our kids figure out how to “grow” on their own. We can model personal growth for them and we can teach them the skills they need to succeed.

  • Obviously, you don’t have to do family goal-setting like we do. Whatever works for your family is great. Focus on teaching your children how to improve and you really can’t go wrong.
  • Here is the form we use for our family goal-setting, in case you’d like to adapt it for your family, too: “Plan for Change”
  • Keep in mind I started this when my kids were 1-12 years old. They are now 6-17 years old, and remember, I have six kids. So, this can be adapted to work for kids of all ages. For my little ones, I would help them fill out the form and then we would pick one thing they could work on, like “sharing my toys.” I would then praise them each time I caught them working on their goal, or we used a bead jar and they could put in a bead each time they handled their goal well. When the jar was full, we would select a reward. When they made a poor choice, I could teach them coping skills. For older kids, we do goals at the beginning of each school year and again in January. It’s a great way to check in and help them grow all year long.
  • At the end of the year, we do “Hibbert Family Awards” to celebrate how each of us has grown through the year. The kids love it and I love that we get to recognize their efforts. (Even if my teens roll their eyes, they still keep their awards in their nightstands!) This 30Second video explains it all.

 

We can be the inspiration for our kids. We can show them the way. And that, to me, is the definition of parenting success.

 

How do you help your kids “choose to grow?” Share your ideas by leaving a comment, below!

Be sure to check out my bestselling memoir,

This is How We Grow, available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

Parenting Success Skills-Inspire Kids to Grow w Family Goal-Setting (plus video); www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

This year, give yourself the gift of Personal Growth by joining my

FREE, online This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group!

 

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #2 The #1 Rule of Parenting–Consistency

Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2, The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

If you ask me, “What is the number one rule of parenting?” I will say, “Consistency.” So, why is it #2 on my Top 10 Parenting Success Skills? Well, as I mentioned in my article, Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 “Do Your Own Work First,” I had to move it to number two on my parenting success skill list because if you haven’t done your own work, none of the other tips will help. Doing our own work first is the number one skill of parenting.

 

That being said, I still believe the number 1 rule of parenting is consistency.

 

Consistency–The #1 Rule of Parenting

Kids need to know what to expect. They need structure in order to thrive. And, structure and expectations only work if they’re consistent. You can’t create household rules or family laws if they are not enforced, just like we could never have safe roads if no one obeyed the traffic laws. Consistency is the key to discipline. How can we teach kids to improve behavior when the rules and consequences constantly change? It’s also important in helping kids know what to expect as far as the rules of the house, family values, and consequences go.

 

But consistency is also important in our own behavior, as parents. Kids need to be able to count on the fact that Mom won’t completely lose it if they make a simple mistake, or that Dad will be loving even if he’s too tired. That’s why it’s so important to “Do our own work first”–so we can model the behavior we desire for our kids, so we can make sure our own “issues and mistakes” don’t get in the way of our parenting skills, and so we can love our kids even better. When we are consistent in our behavior toward our kids–in how we discipline, teach, and model behavior for them–our kids will not only behave better. They’ll learn and grow more successfully too. (And so will we parents.)

 

 

What prevents consistency?
Let’s be honest. Sometimes, we feel “sorry” for our kids, and that affects our consistency. We give in, go back on our word, give up! But, most of the time, we fail to be consistent because we’re just plain worn out! It’s tiring be a mom or dad, and following through is a tough job. That’s why it’s so important to work on our methods for consistency before trouble hits—so we’ll know exactly what to do (and have the strength to do it) when the time comes.

 

 

6 Ways to be more Consistent!
Here are 6 things I have learned and used to help me be more consistent with my kids. I hope they will help you be more consistent in your parenting skills too!

 

1) Know why you’re doing what you’re doing.

It’s hard to be consistent in discipline, rules, and expectations when you don’t really know why you’re doing it, or don’t really believe in what you’re doing. Ask yourself, “Does this rule really matter to me? Why or why not?” If it doesn’t, what does matter? If it does, remind yourself of why you’re following through on it. This goes for values you want to teach too. Get in touch with what really matters to you as a parent and consistently do those things.

 

2) Learn about the principles of reinforcement.

This is an area of psychology that helps us understand how human and animal behavior becomes Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2 The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comconditioned. It has helped me tremendously as a parent. In very simple terms, continuous reinforcement (giving a reward or punishment every single time) is the quickest way for us to learn a behavior. Think of training a dog. If he knows he gets a treat every time he rolls over, he’s more likely to learn to do it. Kids are the same. They need continuous reinforcement if we want them to learn something new. After a while, though, spaced out rewards are more effective. This is intermittent reinforcement. Intermittent reinforcement is a great way to keep a behavior going after it has been learned. Think of a slot machine, where you’re always hoping for the big payoff! That’s intermittent reinforcement.

The thing is, these principles work for negative behavior too. If your child knows there’s a consequence every time he misbehaves, he’s more likely to stop the negative behavior. If he knows he might not really get in trouble every time he talks back, however, you’re dealing with a slot machine. He’s gonna take his chances and hope he wins big! And, get this: Being inconsistent with consequences even one time can give your child hope for the slot machine payoff, making her more likely to roll the dice with bad behavior. That’s why being consistent, especially with discipline, is so important!! Remembering these principles can be highly motivating to us parents when we’re feeling too tired to follow through.

 

3) Create household rules or family laws, write them down, and post them.

If they’re in writing, they’re much easier to enforce, helping you be more consistent. It also prevents you from having to decide what to be consistent on, because it’s already settled! We created family “laws” several years ago in a family meeting. I asked for input from all the kids, we created a list, then consolidated little rules into main “laws.” I typed and printed them, and they’ve been hanging on our fridge ever since. We’ve updated them as the kids have gotten older, but for the most part, they’ve stayed the same. If a kid breaks a “law,” I simply point to it on the fridge and say, “Sorry. You know you better,” and implement the consequence that’s right for that kid. It makes it so much easier to be consistent in my discipline and in my own behavior when I have to discipline.

 

4) Think about the consequence before you say it.

If you’re not willing to follow through with a consequence, don’t say it! The best way is to give yourself time to figure out what you’re willing to do before you speak. In our house, we try to “make the consequence benefit us” (the parents). I know I don’t usually want to ground my little kids from play dates (I want some free time!) or my teenagers from going out (they just lay around and sleep!) but I DO love extra help with housework, early bedtimes, or help babysitting siblings (more free time!). Always give it thought before you commit. Because once you say it….

 

5) Once you say it, you must do it.

That’s why #2 is so important. (If you don’t remember why, go back and re-read #2!) Saying you’re going to do something and not doing it opens up the casino for business!

 

6) When following through, try to keep the emotion out of it.

It can be tough, for sure, when kids break the rules and you have to consistently follow through. It’s actually tougher on the parent than the child, most of the time! But, doing so in a matter-of-fact way is the best. Having written rules helps take the anger, frustration, and emotion out of following through. (If it’s there, in writing, you know they know about it. Often, you don’t even have to say a word—just point to the rule and the written consequence!) Keeping your own emotions in check not only models good behavior for kids, it: 1) shows kids you mean business, 2) helps them see they’re not “bad kids” and you don’t “hate them” for what they’ve done, and, 3) teaches them this simple fact: That, in life, when we make a mistake, there are consequences. That’s just the way it is.

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. (And trust me, she’s learning a lot about parenting, raising 4 sons and 3 daughters!)[/author_info] [/author]

 

Parenting Success Skills Top 10-#2, The #1 Rule of Parenting--Consistency; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Don’t miss a thing!

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Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own ‘Work’ First

Parenting Success Skills TOP 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I’ve always said the number one rule of parenting is consistency. And, I still believe that’s true. But, as important as it is to be consistent, there’s one thing even more important: doing our own work first.

 

 

What does it mean to “do our own ‘work’ first?”

As every parent knows, parenting is work (and lots of it!). But, often, we focus so much on the work of making our kids behave, or improve, or be better, that we forget to do the same.

 

Until we see our own faults, strengths, mistakes, limitations, expectations, it’s always going to be a challenge to parent our kids. We won’t be able to model the things we want them to do. We won’t be able to be consistent, or practice any of the other parenting success skills we want to learn. Until we do our own work, we won’t feel successful as parents.

 

I learned this skill years ago, when my kids were little (and before I had so many). I began to see the irony in asking them to do something I wasn’t doing. It didn’t feel right to expect my kids to work on becoming their best, if I wasn’t doing the same. For example, if I don’t want my kids to complain, I’d better curb my own complaining. If I want them to follow their hearts and pursue their dreams, I’d better get pursuing; I’d better show them how. It’s great to expect great things for our kids. But, isn’t even better to model great things for them?

 

 

Why is it so important to do our own work first?

1)   Doing our own work first helps us improve. And, the more we improve, the better parents (and people) we will be. Parenting is as much about growing parents into better people as it is about helping children grow.

 

2)   Doing our work provides a model of self-improvement for our children. Do we want to discipline our kids to be better, or inspire them? Do we want them to have to figure it out on their own, or show them the way?

 

3)   Doing our work gives us understanding and insight into our own values, beliefs, and expectations, helping us be more effective as parents. For instance, it’s hard to set consistent rules, structure, and discipline when we’re not clear on our own limitations and expectations. (How many times have we said, “If you do that one more time, we’re going home!” but didn’t really mean it, so didn’t follow through?)

 

 

How do I know what my “work” is, and get working on it?Parenting Success Skills Top 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I’m lucky. I’ve always believed in self-improvement, 100%. I naturally look for ways to be better, and I’m continually working on something or another. But, when it comes to parenting, I always have room to improve and often see the need to step it up. This doesn’t mean I have to feel like a “bad” parent. No. In fact, when I find something I’m doing wrong, I do my best not to judge myself, but rather to see it is a positive step in helping me be better, and therefore, in being a better parent for my kids.

 

That’s the first step in doing your own work: Be willing to see what your “work” is. If you’re not sure, ask yourself the following questions (I ask myself these all the time!):

  • What are my strengths, as a parent and personally?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What kinds of behaviors am I modeling for my child(ren)? (health-wise, temper-wise, character-wise, etc.)
  • Is there work I need to do, but have been putting off or been unwilling to do? If so, what is it?
  • How does putting off my own “work” affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren)?

 

Second, choose one thing to work on, and start today. We’re not seeking perfection here—just a willingness to do your own “work,” to consistently seek small improvements. Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I willing to give 5% more effort today to being the best I can be, as a parent, and as a human being?
  • How might this 5% affect my parenting skills, and my child(ren), over the course of their lifetime?
  • What is one thing I can start working on today that will improve me and help me become a better parent? (Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll see if often.)

 

It’s not as hard as we think. Even 5% more effort to do our own work first can have a magnificent parenting payoff down the road.

 

 

Disclaimer: This is not meant to make anyone feel like a “bad” parent!

In no way am I trying to lay a guilt trip on parents, or to say everything our kids do is the fault of their parents. No. I do not believe that, and that is not what I am saying. We parents certainly don’t need anything else making us feel “not good enough.”

 

Instead, I’m saying maybe we all need a little nudge to look more closely at ourselves—to improve, acknowledge our weaknesses, increase our strengths, and to show our children what personal growth and self-actualization really look like, so they will want to follow in our footsteps.

 

 

Do Your Own Work First, and Discover Parenting Success!

As long as we are honestly checking in with ourselves and working to be our best, we will be doing our best. And, that is definitely good enough. It’s not only bound to make us successful parents. It’s bound to help our kids feel a little more success in life too.

 

 

 More “Parenting Success Skills Top 10” to come!

So, check back often, SUBSCRIBE (below), and/or follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, and Don’t miss a thing!


 

 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She’s definitely learned a LOT about parenting so far, but still has a LOT to learn![/author_info] [/author]

Parenting Success Skills TOP 10: #1 Do Your Own 'Work' First; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Do you agree it’s important for parents to “do their work” first? If so, why? If not, why not? How does this affect our parenting and our children? What are some barriers you think prevent parents from doing our work? What “work” do you see a need to do in your own life? I’d love to hear from you, so leave a comment, below!

 

 

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In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

In Praise of Fathers-10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I specialize in working with mothers. I also happen to be a mother. But I’ve always held a deep respect for fathers. I am, of course, the daughter of a father, the daughter-in-law of a father-in-law (who died three years ago and I deeply loved), and the wife of a father—the father of my children. I’ve also worked with countless fathers—fathers supporting mothers, fathers doing it on their own, fathers who want the best for their children, who work tirelessly for their families, who nurture and love and inspire.

 

Fathers Are Important

We all know that kids need their dads—that we don’t want a society of fatherless children, that we don’t want kids to grow up feeling unloved, abandoned, and unwanted. But, most of us probably do not realize just how important a loving father is to a child’s development, choices, and overall life experience. Studies show that, without a father, children are:

  • 5 times more likely to be poor
  • At an increased risk for sexual abuse[i]
  • 2 to 3 times more likely to use drugs
  • Twice as likely to drop out of school
  • 2 to 3 times more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems
  • More than twice as likely to be incarcerated[ii][iii]

Statistics like these remind us that fathers who are present and love their children make a noticeable difference in a child’s life.

 

10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

We need strong fathers. And strong fathers deserve our attention, encouragement, and praise. The following ten facts will show you just what I mean. According to research:

1)   A loving father is the best predictor of the level of compassion a child will develop.

It feels counterintuitive because mothers tend to teach compassion more directly than fathers. But, in fact, it’s dad who makes the difference. Kids who interact regularly with a loving father—a father who may seem “tough” on the outside yet is able to soften and show love and compassion to the child—show greater levels of compassion than children without a father.

 

2)    Having a stable father is associated with greater confidence in children.

Mothers and fathers actually compliment each other in the characteristics they teach their children. Fathers are more likely to let children branch out on their own, while mothers are the stable place for children. Fathers encourage exploration of the world, trying new things, and “getting out there,” all of which lead to greater confidence in their children. It has been said “A mother gives her child roots; a father gives his child wings.”

 

3)   Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes.

Kids with involved, nurturing fathers show better cognitive and linguistic skills and tend to have higher IQ’s too. They also seem to be more able to manage the stress of education than kids without a father.

 

4)   Kids with caring fathers tend to be more emotionally secure and stable.In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Children with an involved father have half the rates of depression than those with no father. They’re more likely to feel secure exploring their surroundings, get in less trouble overall, and seem to be more socially skilled and comfortable.

 

5)   A loving father is associated with lower levels of violence and greater respect for women, in boys.

Boys without a loving male role model show increasing levels of violence and tend to act with greater hostility toward females.

 

6)   A loving father is associated with self-worth and virtue that leads to less sexualization of young girls.

Girls without a non-sexual male in the home tend toward early sexualization and promiscuity. Fathers who show true love to their daughters help protect them from seeking approval and love in sexual ways. In fact, kids with a loving father have 75% lower rates of teen pregnancy than those without.

 

7)    Fathers are associated with increased relationship success levels in children as they mature into adulthood.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Whether or not the child’s mother and father are together, children who have invested fathers tend to have higher success rates in their own relationships as adults.

 

8)    One of the most important influences a father can have on his child is the quality of their relationship with the child’s mother.

Fathers who treat the mothers of their children with respect and deal with conflict in an adult and appropriate manner are more likely to have: a) boys who understand how to treat women and are less likely to act aggressively toward females, and b) girls who see how they should expect men to treat them and are less likely to become involved in violent or unhealthy relationships.

 

9)    Fathers are associated with greater success in children.

One study that spanned four decades found that, dads who developed an emotionally close relationship and encouraged their kids to excel had daughters who were more successful in college/careers and sons who achieved greater career status later in life.

 

10)  Kids need healthy interaction with their fathers, and Mothers tend to determine how much interaction fathers have.

Mothers are the gatekeepers to how much interaction a father may have with his children. This means we mothers need to be aware of all incredible benefits of fathers and let them be fathers! It can be tough as a mother to watch dad let your little girl go out with tangled hair and mismatched clothes, to let your little boy ride his bigwheel down a steep incline and spin in a circle at the bottom or dangle precariously from the top of the slide before speeding down (all of which my husband has done on numerous occasions). But I can tell you moms from experience: When you stand back and let dads “do their thing” you can see your children learn in a whole new way, and you just might feel in your heart how good it is for them to be pushed in a way only a father can do.

 

In Praise of Fathers

The point is: We need wonderful fathers. And there are many wonderful fathers out there. There are fathers who, at this moment, are rocking a sick child, reading, playing, and teaching them. There are fathers who are doing homework, exercising patience, and coming home a little early just to be there. There are fathers wrestling, disciplining, and doing yardwork with their children.

We need all of these fathers. Our children need them. We mothers need them. And the men who are stepping up as fathers need their fathering role too. For, fatherhood doesn’t just create better children—it creates better men.

Thank you, Fathers. For everything you do. You truly deserve praise for who you are and what you do for our children, for we women, and for the world. Happy Father’s Day!

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She loves great fathers, especially her husband, OJ, whom she considers to be one of the greatest fathers of all.[/author_info] [/author]

 

In Praise of Fathers-10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

 

Have a father you’d like to praise? Share your thoughts on how dads impact kids (and you) for the better by leaving a comment, below!

 

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[ii] Project Fatherhood: Making a Positive Difference in the Lives of Children, retrieved 6/13/12. http://www.projectfatherhood.org

[iii]Canfield, K. The Inestimable Value of Fathering. Project Fatherhood, retrieved June 11, 2013.

“Mommy Fails” & Mother’s Day: 3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear

"Mommy Fails" & Mother's Day-3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com .

Why does Mother’s Day always make me think of all I’m not doing right as a Mother? Every year I try to avoid it, but I can’t escape. The images of crafty, fulfilled, do-it-all moms who are (seemingly) perfect, fill the world, and at first, I love it. I love glorying in this role that I truly find life-altering, holy, and divine–being “Mom.”

But at some point I start comparing to those images. I see what I want (or wanted) to do and be, and feel I’m missing the mark. This week, for example, I had just returned from a days-long stay alone to work on my book and try to catch up on sleep. (It sounds heavenly, and it was–if you like writing for hours and hours). But one long drive, two kid-interrupted sleepless nights, four sick kids, and less than two days later, I was already burned out, and on the verge of losing it! “Really?” I chastised myself. “You can’t even handle your life after a major break? Weak.” Sometimes I’m not very nice.

 

The Irony of Mother’s Day

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that the very images and words meant to lift mothers up this time of year can have the opposite effect? The worst, for me, was about 8 years ago, when I had 3 kids. Caught in a contract with a group psychology practice, I was working far more hours than I’d planned. Add in work for my newly-founded Postpartum Wellness Coalition, and I felt like I was “doing it all.” That is, until Mother’s Day.

Sitting in church, listening to a lovely man speak of his angelic mother moved me. It inspired me to be like that. Then, it moved me to tears. Because I wasn’t like that. It hit me–wham!–like a wrecking ball, “You’re not being the mom you wanted to be.” I was truly wrecked. I cried for literally 8 hours strait! I couldn’t stop, so I shut myself away in my room all day, humiliated, defeated. I was only saved through a “Say-Anything”-esque rescue by my dear husband, OJ–standing on the stairs playing Coldplay’s “Fix You,” in the dark until I finally let him show me the love I felt I did not deserve.

 

Mommy “Fails”

And I’m not the only one. In the past few weeks alone I’ve heard stories from numbers of friends who fear they may be “failing” at motherhood. I asked, on my Facebook Page, if anyone was willing to share some of their “mommy fails,” and got some pretty honest responses:

  • “All 3 of my babies rolling off the bed onto wood floors. You’d think I’d learn the first time!”
  • “Calling my kids by the wrong name. I hated when my mom did that to me.”
  • “Letting my mood swings get in the way. I wish I could have been more ‘stable’.”
  • “My kids are little, but I’ve already cut nails so short they bleed, and both my girls have pulled chairs on themselves in the kitchen, leaving bruises. But the worst is when my daughter screamed and cried when her Grandma gave her a dress because she didn’t think the dress was pretty enough. Spoiled, much?”
  • “I could write a whole chapter on my mommy fails!”
  • “I was shopping with my 3 kids and it was great. Until the checkout. My 4 year-old started screaming for candy, but I was taking a stand. And I did it. We got all the way to the car, him screaming the whole way. As I was putting them in, an older woman came up and said, ‘I just want to tell you that you are doing a great job at being a mom. My daughter only has 2 kids and she is a mess, so keep up the good work.’ I said, ‘Thanks.’ Then I got in the car, and yelled to my son, ‘Shut up! Not another word ’til we get home!’ It could’ve been such a good ‘mom moment, and I had to go and ruin it.”
  • “Growing up, I was pretty afraid of my mom, so I try to make sure my kids don’t feel that from me. One day, a few years back, I’d gone off my medication (I suffer from anxiety) to try and get pregnant. My kids were not cleaning their playroom like I asked and I lost it. The angry voice came out. I was throwing things and saying who knows what, and my 3 year old daughter is crying by now and she says to me, ‘mommy stop it you are scaring me.’  I had to walk out of the room. It didn’t matter anymore if it got cleaned. I felt horrible. But I know I’m not the only mom who feels like this. I’m just grateful my daughter called me out on how I was making her feel.”[1]

 

3 Things Every Mother Needs to Know This Mother’s Day

1) You’re Not Alone. She’s right. She’s not the only mom who feels this way. In fact, we can relate, can’t we, to at least one of the scenarios above? We all have “mommy fails.” We all feel less than adequate from time to time. I see it with every mother I meet, "Mommy Fails" & Mother's Day-3 Messages All Moms Need to Hear; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comwhether they openly acknowledge their “failures” or try to hide them. It’s no secret we all make mistakes. It’s part of being a mother, and it’s ok.

2) You’re better than you realize. You’re not a failure. We see what’s wrong because we care. If we didn’t care it wouldn’t bother us if we yell or if our kids get hurt. The fact that it bothers us proves we love our kids. And when we can see this and then choose to learn from our “fails,” it proves we’re actually better at this mom thing than we may have thought. In fact, one of my Facebook friends decided to ask her daughter  what her “mommy fails” were. She says, “I expected a heart wrenching conversation. I have at times completely lost it with my kids. Yelling, tears, the works. But her response was, ‘Oh that’s easy. When I was sick and made toast I asked you to watch it and you burned it black!’ I asked her, ‘That’s it? What about me yelling you and making you cry a few weeks ago?’ ‘Mom,’ she said, ‘that is just real stuff. It doesn’t make you a ‘fail.’ I have done that to you too, and I kinda like knowing your not some super hero and that you cry too. Besides everyone’s mom freaks out on them sometimes.”[1] See, chances are, you’re doing better in your kids’ eyes than you realize.

3) You are enough. This one is important, so I’m going to say it again, “You are enough.” Being Mom is a daunting task, but you have what you need to do the job only you can do. You have enough love. You have enough wisdom. You have enough of what it takes. You are enough. Happy Mother’s Day, Moms.

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Despite her many “fails” as a mom, Dr. Hibbert keeps loving. Isn’t that what really matters anyway?[/author_info] [/author]

"Mommy Fails" & Mother's Day-3 Messages Every Mom Needs to Hear; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com .

 
 

How do you handle your “mommy fails?” Feel brave enough to share one with us? Leave a comment, below. I did.

 
 

Don’t miss a thing! SUBSCRIBE, below, and please “Like” my Facebook page for inspiration on the topics that interest you most!

 
 


 

 
 

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Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom, & How I Know I’m Really Not

Are We Not All Mothers?

Parents Are Amazing

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10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month, & Why It’s OK

Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly: 

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[1] Huge thank you to Elizabeth, Diann, Jesica, Jana, and Holly, for sharing your “Mommy Fails” with us! You just proved how incredible you are as moms, owning up to your mistakes like that. Big hugs to you! 

Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom, & How I Know I’m Really Not

Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom & How I Know I'm Really Not; www.drchristinahibbert.com

I won’t lie. It’s been a rough week. A perfect storm of trying to meet a deadline for two book proposals while kids were having all kinds of issues, husband was MIA golfing in tournaments, hormones were at their evil low, and so was quantity of sleep. A “squall” of epic proportions started growing in my head and heart until I finally crashed on myself, feeling like such a loser mom.

 

Yes, I feel that way too. And now that my head is clearer, I can tell you this: it all stems from my thoughts. This week, I could hear them, loud and clear, bossing me around. It wasn’t pretty. You know when your 5 year-old asks, “Are you still nuts, Mom?” that it hasn’t been pretty! So, what drives these “loser mom” feelings? And what do I do about it? Here’s a little glimpse.

 

Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom

1)   My kindergartner keeps getting notes sent home: “Please remember to help Sydney do her homework!” And, I keep forgetting to call my kids out sick from school (which has been at least once a week in winter). They always have to call me. “Oh! Yep. They’re home sick today,” I say. “Sorry I forgot. Again.”

  • Loser Mom Thoughts (LMT’s): “The schools think I am a loser! They probably have a wall that says, ‘Loser Parents—Keep an Eye Out!’ with my face on it! I mean, I can’t even remember to sign my kids out or get my Kindergartener to do her work! I’m never on top of anything and I never will be!”
  • What I did: Once I finally came down from my “catastrophizing,” I reminded myself: “First, it’s just calling for attendance and kindergarten homework. It’s not the end of the world. Second, if the teachers think you’re a mess, oh well. You don’t know what they’re really thinking, and they don’t know your situation. You’ve got a lot on your plate, and you’re doing the best you can.” Then, I made sure the homework got done and tried to remember to call. I do try.

 

2)   Monday, my 9 year-old daughter told me I “never listen” to her, and that no one else in our family does either.

  • “Loser Mom” Thoughts (LMT’s): “What kind of mom doesn’t listen to her kids? And you’re supposed to be a psychologist?”
  • What I Did: First, I wallowed in it, bringing myself down. Eventually, though, I told my daughter I was sorry she felt that way, then kindly explained: “We have 6 kids. Usually, two or three of you are talking to me at the same time. I can’t always hear everything you each say. Maybe next time, you can put your hand on my arm until I’m ready to hear you.” Hmmm. I guess I do listen to my kids.

 

3)   With so much I always need to “do,” my philosophy has become: “If it doesn’t absolutely have to get done now, it can wait.” I shouldn’t have been surprised, therefore, when my boys’ basketball coach told them they couldn’t play in the game on Tuesday if I didn’t get their physicals turned in by 3.

  • LMT’s: “You’re always waiting ‘til the last minute! Now your kids are the only ones who haven’t turned in their forms. How embarrassing—for them and for you!”
  • What I did: Now that it had to get done, I finally dug up the physicals—one hour before the game (though I almost had to call the doctor and get new copies because they weren’t filed away, “of course”)! “At least you found them in time,” I reminded myself. I may be last minute, but I do get it done.

 

Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom & How I Know I'm Really Not, www.drchristinahibbert.com

“The Fam” on a good day. Don’t we look pulled together?

4)   Seeing that “addicted” look on my 9 and 5 year-old daughters’ faces after forgetting they’d been playing Animal Jam on the computer for way too long because I was “tired” and veg’ing out in my own way (chocolate and crappy TV).

  • LMT’s:  “You forgot about your kids? How could you forget? You know it’s not good to let them sit in front of a computer for hours! You never have enough energy to be the kind of mother you should be, and you probably never will!”
  • What I did: I brushed their teeth, read stories, said prayers, sang a lullaby, and hugged them to bed. “Hmmm. Doesn’t sound so ‘losery’ to me.”

 

5)   Yelling at my kids. Tuesday afternoon, when several were whining, I started. “You’re all ungrateful! I can’t believe I am raising ungrateful kids!” (I was then called out by my oldest for “lumping” all the kids together, once again, instead of remembering they’re individuals). Wednesday morning, when they weren’t up on time and were complaining about their lunch options, it got much worse: “What do any of you do for ME?! I’m so tired of it all! I’m just going to say ‘no’ to everything you ask me for the next week! I mean it! What? You don’t believe me? Just try me! You can’t beat me!” Not my finest moment.

  • LMT’s: “Seriously? You’re not only yelling at your kids, you’re threatening and competing with them? You don’t need me to say it…”
  • What I did: …because I was in my room crying and feeling like the most horrible person in the world. Feeling ashamed. And, acting out of shame is never good. It led to…

 

6)   Yelling at my husband in front of the kids because he “doesn’t get it” and “just stands by while I’m falling off a cliff,” and because he has “the nerve to ask to go on a golf weekend when I’m drowning!” (It’s really more of a rant than just a yell). Then, hearing my kids tell each other they’re afraid we’re going to get divorced because we were fighting.

  • LMT’s: “Rock bottom. Nice move. Now your whole family is feeling terrible. Because of you.”
  • What I did: I let my husband help by taking the kids to school. I went back to bed and slept for an hour. I got up and finished my proposals before the kids got home. And, later that night, I told my kids: “I’m sorry. Yes, I was frustrated because of some of the things you’ve done, but I need you to know you’re not ungrateful kids, even if you say ungrateful things sometimes. And I need you to know I was more upset by how I was acting than by what you each did. And I really love each of you. You’re very important to me. And Dad and I are not getting divorced. Sometimes we just get frustrated with each other, kind of like you feel with each other sometimes too. I should not yell at you or Dad. I’m very sorry for that, and I’m working on doing better.” My oldest then said, “I think it was just a stressful day for us all, Mom. We’ll all be better tomorrow.” They really are good kids. Then I apologized to my husband for how I acted too; we “kissed and made up.”

 

7)   Finally, my constant nemesis, this week and always: Telling myself way too many times, “I can’t handle six kids. Why was I given six kids if I can’t handle them?”

  • LMT’s: “You really are a loser if you can’t handle your kids. Other people handle even more and with much more grace.”
  • What I did: First, I told myself to shut up. Then, I showed myself compassion. “You have six kids. That’s a lot. You may not have planned on having six, but that’s what you’ve got. And you love them. It’s hard, but you really do love them. And you know it doesn’t matter what other mothers do (or appear to do). You’re doing the best you can. It’s just been a stressful week. That doesn’t mean anything about who you are.”

 

How I Know I’m Really Not

When I look back on what I actually did this week, I might not be such a loser after all. I’m feeling much better as I write this. Yes, the hormones and deadlines have passed, and yes, I’ve gotten some sleep. But, mostly, because I can hear my “loser mom” thoughts, I’ve been able to tackle them. I realize, now that I’m not in it, that most of the “problems” that make me feel like a loser are not really “problems” at all. They’re small and insignificant but I blow them way out of proportion. We have a rule in our house that we don’t say, “Shut up,” but I allow myself to say it to myself when I hear those LMT’s try to get me down. Because they’re wrong.

 

I’m not a loser mom. I’m a great mom. I know that. And it’s not even because of what I did in response to my LMT’s this week. I’m a great mom simply because I show up each day. I mess up and create problems and feel ashamed. But I keep showing up. I admit my mistakes, apologize, and try to do better. I keep loving my kids, my husband, and myself. And I show my family who I really am—a person, like anyone else—simply trying to be the best I can be.

 

 

If you haven’t already, check out Thought Management Parts 1 and 2. They explain more about how our thoughts control our bodies, emotions, and behaviors, and give tools for how to get out of our heads so we can recognize, and “call out” our “LMT’s” before they cause any more trouble! 

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. She really can act “nuts” sometimes, but hey, she’s working on it, and loves helping others work on it too.[/author_info] [/author]

 

Why I Feel Like a Loser Mom & How I Know I'm Really Not; www.drchristinahibbert.com

 

Do you ever have LMT’s? What drives them for you? What do you do to stop them and remember you’re really NOT? Leave your thoughts, ideas, and questions below!

 

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Related Posts/Articles:

“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy!” 10 Ideas To Drive Us Back to Sane

10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month (& Why It’s OK)

“Fake It ‘Til You Make It”: A Surefire Way to Prevent a Meltdown

Thought Management: Part 2, How to Change Your Thinking (& Your Life!) Using a Thought Record (plus video)

Parenting Practice: 7 Strategies for Summer Sanity

Parenting Practice: “Sit Back & Enjoy the Ride!” How to make the Most of Family Drive Time

Parenting Practice: Getting Good at the “Let-Go’s”

Joy is in the Moments

Frustrations & Expectations

Back-to-School Mental Health: 7 Strategies for School-Year Sanity

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

 

How to NOT be Un-Grateful: 10 Things for which I Am Not Ungrateful

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How to NOT be Un-Grateful:

10 Things for which I Am Not Ungrateful

I’ve written a lot about gratitude this week. But there’s a lot to be said; there are reasons why we should focus on gratitude, there are ways to do it, there are benefits for doing it. But today I want to take us beyond simply “feeling” grateful or even practicing gratitude, to how we can not be un-grateful.

 

Being Grateful vs. Not Being Ungrateful

There’s a difference, you know, between being grateful and not being ungrateful. I know what you’re thinking—the double negative essentially means that the two are the same. But really they’re not. It’s easy to say we’re grateful. It’s a little less easy to act like we’re grateful and practice gratitude. But it’s much harder to not be ungrateful, because, for me, not being ungrateful means not taking for granted, not forgetting my gratitude, and not failing to express it.

We don’t want to take the blessings in life for granted. We certainly don’t mean to. Be we do, don’t we? I know I do, and I hate when I do it. For example, I can easily tell you I am completely grateful for my children and husband (and I really am). I work very hard to acknowledge my gratitude for them each day and to help them feel it too. But how often do I end up frustrated with them, letting them “have it” about how they’re “putting me out,” complaining selfishly, and behaving very ungratefully? Too often, I’m afraid. In fact, when I think about it, it’s much harder to find things for which I am definitely not ungrateful (things I never take for granted) than to find things for which I am definitely grateful (which are many).

 

How to NOT Be Un-Grateful

So what can we do to not be ungrateful? While I’m certainly no expert on this, I have a few ideas:

1) It’s human nature to find ourselves ungrateful at times. Yes, we will all have moments when we find our selves feeling ungrateful–taking our blessings for granted, complaining about our gifts and opportunities. Unfortunately, it’s part of human nature; it does no good to beat ourselves up about it.

2) The important thing is to acknowledge our ingratitude when we notice it. Being able to point out, “I am really taking this for granted right now,” or “I am behaving very ungratefully,” is an important first step, for acknowledging our ingratitude is what helps us turn it around.

3) Life’s lessons teach us how to not be ungrateful. Every difficult experience we go through has the power to teach us to better appreciate the small and large blessings of life. When things get really rough, we start to realize just how great we had it before. And this, in turn, helps us to recognize during the “good” times how rough things can really be. Yes, we can and must learn from these life lessons; they are meant to teach us how to not be ungrateful.

4) Acknowledging, listing, and remembering the things for which we are not ungrateful is key. Recognizing the things we do not take for granted helps us better remember these things, and remembering is the key to overcoming ingratitude.

 

10 Things for which I Am Not Ungrateful

Following my own advice, I’ve given this a lot of thought and come up with my list of 10 things for which I am not ungrateful. I hope this will inspire you to come up with your “Not Ungrateful” list too!:

1)   “Normal Life”: I know it can feel boring at times, but having experienced “crazy life” far too often in our past, I can honestly say I am full of overflowing gratitude for “normal.” In fact, I made a pact with myself (after the 2 years in which 6 family members died), that as long as no one is dying, I need to appreciate whatever normal life has to offer. “Normal” life is a good thing. I am not ungrateful for it.

2)   Waking up Each Morning: I may not always be completely looking forward to every day, but I do feel deep gratitude for being alive. Having lost so many loved ones, including my dear sisters, I am humbly grateful for each new day. Life is the ultimate blessing, and I am not ungrateful.

3)   Health: I remind myself each morning how grateful I am for my health. I’m well aware of how illness can ruin plans, dreams, and ability. I am not ungrateful for each healthy day.

4)   Talents/Strengths: This may be the one thing I most often thank God for. Recognizing and using my strengths and talents to strengthen others brings the deepest satisfaction and joy, for which I truly am not ungrateful.

5)   Feeling my value and self-worth: Working with so many people (especially women) who honestly cannot see or feel their worth as a soul makes me ever more grateful to know who I am, why I am here, and where I am headed.

6)   The ability to see beauty in the small things and teach my children to do the same: I love that they pause for a flower, revel in a sunset, and catch the beauty of the drifting clouds, and I am not ungrateful that I do that too.

7)   To see my weaknesses and limits: I’m strage that way. It’s certainly not always easy, but I want to know the truth about myself because I believe in overcoming my weaknesses, and acknowledging them is the first step. I’ve even asked friends to tell me the 3 things they admire most and least about me! It can feel a little like “ouch!” at the outset, but those things, when I let them in, lead to the best growth, and for that I am truly not ungrateful!

8)   Growth: I may be ungrateful for changes sometimes, but I can honestly say I am not ungrateful to know that I can always choose to grow through each and every change life has to offer.

9)   Knowing that all will always be well in God’s hands: I may not always remember this at the start, but deep down, I always know it. And that is something I am definitely not ungrateful for.

10) Counting my Blessings: I forget to do it sometimes, but I am always grateful that the opportunity to count my blessings is there, that I know how to do it, and that I work on it. In my darkest hours, I can say a prayer of gratitude–for the gifts I’ve listed above, for all the other things for which I am grateful, and for all the blessings for which I am working very hard to not be ungrateful.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]

 

Related Posts:

10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

10 Ways to Practice Gratitude Today!

10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month (& Why It’s OK)

In Memory of My Sister, on the 5th Anniversary of Her Death

Weather the Storms Together: 4 Ways to Strengthen Families Through Times of Stress

 

What are you not ungrateful for? Share your list, or other thoughts, with us by leaving a comment below!

 

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Parenting Skills: “My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy!” 10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane

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Parenting Skills: 

“My Kids Are Driving Me Crazy!”

10 Ideas to Drive Us Back to Sane

A little too often, I get to this point where I feel like I’m in the back of a beat-up pick-up truck, hanging on for dear life as it drives perilously along winding cliff’s edges, the sounds of laughter and snickering mocking me from inside the cab. And who is inside that cab, driving the truck? My kids! (And sometimes my husband too). I know, this may sound a little extreme, but it’s how I feel a lot of the time—like my kids are driving me crazy! (Some weeks, in fact, I could swear they’ve taken a secret oath to push me all the way off the cliff, or make me so insane that I choose to just jump myself!)

 

So, may I just “vent” for a moment?

Besides the usual “sibling arguments,” “lack of doing zones (chores),” “ignorance of bedtimes,” and “morning grumpiness” (see photos above, left, for a visual), here are 5 categories (even when venting I prefer to be organized!) of things my kids have done lately that have been pushing me closer to the edge of crazy!:

 

1)  “I just forgot…”:

“…that I had a major science project due today.”

“…that I was supposed to pick up my little sister and drive her home from school.”

“…that I was supposed to call you when I got to my friend’s house.”

“…to come home after school, to do my homework, to bring my homework to school, to bring my lunch to school, to wake up for school!” You get the drift.

 

2)   “Whoops!…”:

“…I dumped a bottle of glitter on the floor and ‘just forgot’ to clean it up!”

“…I wrote with red marker on the newly-painted front of the house, oh, and on our friend’s car too!”

“…I just gave my brother a swirly!”

“…I spilled ‘Yoo-Hoo’ on the carpet (and ‘I just forgot’ about the rule of no food out of the kitchen!)”

“…the computer just magically stopped working while I happened to be downloading YouTube videos!”

 

3)   “By the way,…”:

“…I have a field trip today and need to be there early—in ten minutes, in fact.”

“…(said at 8 pm) tomorrow I have a soccer game at 8 am at the Grand Canyon (1 ½ hours away), because, (by the way) I signed up for the soccer team at school!”

“…I have a golf tournament on Friday…and on Saturday…and Tuesday (this is my husband, and this is constant).”

“…I promised I’d bring a homemade dessert to the church activity tonight (one hour before), so what are you making?”

“…I’m over you!” (Sent by my 9 year-old daughter via note when I told her we really might not be getting a dog–See the actual note in the image, above, left).

 

4)   “Sorry, Mom…”:

“…We didn’t mean to; we  just thought it would be fun!” (To dismantle the new pink chandelier I installed above her bed, into literally dozens of tiny pink pieces with her friend–proof is in the image, right).

“…We just wanted to look pretty!” (So we smashed your makeup and dumped it all over the floor to do so).

“…I just thought it would be cool to have my name in tape on the wall!” (and color it with a permanent black marker, thus smearing marker all over the walls).

“…but I just went to the neighbor’s house to see if I could pet their dogs!” (Said the 4 year-old, when her older brothers were supposed to have been babysitting, about the scary neighbors we don’t even know).

“…I told [brother x] to watch her!” (to which [Brother x] replies:) “I told her not to go, so I didn’t think she would!” (Unsaid: “…While we both played video games downstairs!”).

 

5)   And, of course, there are the plethora of  ways in which my kids interfere with precious sleep:

“I just wanted to finish the movie, mom (so I was 1 hour late for curfew, thus making you wait up, wondering where I was).”

“My covers are all out of order, Mom (whispered the 4 year-old at 3:30 am, three times this week so far).”

“’Whoops!’ ‘Sorry, mom!’ We forgot you were trying to sleep!” (Said the boys playing nerf basketball just below my room at 11 pm).

“Oh, ‘sorry, mom.’ I wasn’t that close to your room, so I didn’t know it would bother you.” (Said the boy playing the drums when I’d just begged everyone to please help me get a nap!)

 

Whew!…I feel better now.

I don’t care what anybody says–”More kids=More trouble.” And, with 6, I am hopelessly outnumbered. So, thank you for letting me have my little “vent”–it really does help to get it off my chest. It helps me feel like, perhaps, I’m not the only parent in the world whose children can push them sometimes. Also, when I vent it all out, especially in writing, like I just did, I can once again see the truth:

1) That these are all little issues–certainly nothing to jump off a cliff about! And…

2) That no one can really “drive me crazy”.

Sure, life is hectic and frantic, and too-often, chaotic. But, that’s just the name of the game when we parents are trying to raise kids who care, when we want the best for them and are trying to teach them to be the best they can be. Yes, it is our choice to let them get to us! And when I vent all my complaints out, I start to see just how much I let these “little” things get to me. I let the “craziness” of parenting drive me crazy far too often. Instead, I need to remember that I am in the driver’s seat of my mental well-being. I choose to let the crazy in or not.

 

 

Driving Back to Sane

So, today I’m choosing to take back the wheel and implement the following 10 ideas to drive me back to sane. (If you’re feeling near the “crazy cliff” with your kids too, give these a try, and add to or alter them as needed!):


 

1) Breathe more deeply and more often.

2) Laugh more.

3) Nap more.

4) Let things go more.

5) Make Mr. Golf (my husband) take over so I can get a break.

6) Take more baths with the jets going (so I can’t even hear what’s going on outside).

7) Call a friend and “vent” or write out my frustrations, just like I did here (thanks for listening–it really does help).

8) Remember that they are children—it’s their job to mess up and it’s my job to love them as they learn to clean up the messes (and believe me—I make them clean up!) (Maybe I should write this one down and put it on my bathroom mirror?).

9) Pray for strength, energy, patience, and greater love for each child. Then…

10) Love them. And love myself while I’m at it.

I love my kids, really I do. But if I’m not careful, I can let the challenges of parenting prevent me from loving myself. And self-love is something every parent needs a little more of. For, when I love myself, I have more love to give–I am more patient, understanding, and can see just how “little” the little things really  are. When I love myself, I teach my children to love themselves and others. Then I can let their love for me into my crazy little heart, and watch my heart soften. Yes, love is the key to driving away from the cliffs and right on back to a happy, loving (and sane) home.

 

[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/square-head-shot1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Clinical Psychologist, Mom of 6, Postpartum Couples DVD Producer, Non-Profit Founder, and expert on Parenting, Women’s Emotions, Pregnancy & Postpartum, and Grief & Loss, Dr. Christina Hibbert loves songwriting, learning, and teaching what she learns. Learn and Grow with Dr. Hibbert and her community of really great people![/author_info] [/author]

 

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I want to know: Am I the only one whose kids drive me crazy? It’s tough to admit, but oddly, it’s very freeing. Let me know about your “cliffs” and how you avoid them! How do you drive yourself back to sane? We parents need all the advice and support we can get, so leave a comment!

 

Related Resources:

“Sleep Better, Cope Better!” 6 Insomnia Causes & Cures

10 Major Mistakes I’ve Made This Month (& Why It’s OK)

Parenting Practice: Getting Good at the “Let-Go’s”

Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

30SecondMom Tips from Dr. Hibbert:

Smart Discipline: Make the Consequence Benefit YOU!

Teach Kids Responsibility by Having Them Do Chores In Zones!

Practice Deep Breathing & Breathe Easier!

 

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