Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I Cried, In Front Of My Child

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I have a confession to make.  In truth, I don't know if I did right or not.  Last night, for the first time, I cried in front of my daughter.  Tears didn't come because of loss or grief on a physical level.  They were emotional tears of frustration, sadness, bewilderment and love.

Normally sweet, obedient and mild-mannered, my little one has decided to take up tantrum throwing.  Not often mind you.  Just one here and there.  That first tantrum was an intense shock to me!  "What in the world?  She's NEVER done this!"  I'd read about such children, but mine was not "that kind" of child.  HA!  Talk about God humbling me.  *sigh*

Then came the Google-ing and the books and the asking others for advice,

"Ignore her during a tantrum, she just wants attention."

"Put her in time-out every time she starts a tantrum."

"Never give in.  Your will has to be stronger than her will."

"What are you doing wrong in your parenting?"

"Be consistent."

"She must need more discipline in her day to day life."

"It's just her personality starting to show through."

"She's testing her boundaries, trying to grow up."

And on and on it can go.  Everyone has a different opinion.  Everyone has different advice.  It's overwhelming when, as a loving Mommie, you want what's best for your daughter and you know allowing tantrums to become a habit is not best.

So this is where my crying came in.  After 2 hours of trying to get her to bed, I'd had it.  Usually she's so good at bedtime...usually she's so good ALL the time!  Finally, she settled down, but still refused to get in her bed.  I sat in the rocking chair, held her and began to cry.  Nothing out of control, but a definite real cry with tears, a runny nose and a couple sobs.

To this she responded, "Mommy, no cry.  Mommy be happy.  Mommy, why you cryin'?"

As simply and honestly as I could, I attempted to explain,

"Mommy loves you.  I want what's best for you.  I'm sad right now because I cannot figure out how to help you understand why obeying Mommy and doing what's right is so important.  I can't find a way to help you see why throwing a fit and not obeying Mommy isn't good for you.  I'm crying because I don't know what to do.  Mommy wants you to learn to do what's right because you want to do what's right and because you love Jesus."

That's what I was feeling.  So if you analyze my psychology or theology maybe it's off somewhere, but at that moment, that's what I felt and tried to explain to my little one.

Most of the day today, I've carried around a twinge of guilt.  But finally tonight, I've decided to accept the fact - I cried in front of my child.  It's what happened.  Hopefully, she knows it's because I love her.  And I do.

Through this event, something I already knew has finally clicked in my mind - I cannot control my daughter.  She is her own person.  Her heart and conscience are between her and God, not me.  Yes, she's still little so my job is to teach her the difference between right and wrong, social graces, life skills, Who Jesus is, etc.  I cannot force goodness and truth into her bloodstream.

Other morsels I gleaned are...

My daughter is strong.  This strength can be used for much good as an adult.
Her will must be guided and bent, not broken.
There's more than merely being "good" or "bad."
I am her emotional example.
Trust my gut.

While I may follow every book and person's steps to avoiding/ending tantrums, the fact is, I'm not in control! Who knows, I might be the perfect mother doing everything correctly!  (Just for this moment of conjecture mind you.  *winks*)  But because I have a human for a child, things are not going to be perfect!  My daughter has her own free-will.  At some point, I have to let go of all ideas, steps and rules to follow and let God's grace guide my child's growing up.

Here's what couple other sources have to say about crying in front of your children...

Easy Peasy Kids

Circle Of Moms

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