“I completely understand the need for friendship and understanding from a supportive crew of other parents,” says Dr. Hassan Alzein of Alzein Pediatrics in Evergreen Park and Oak Lawn, Illinois. “Positive interaction with other children’s caretakers is important to getting through sleepless nights, toilet training, bullying, puberty and teen angst. Everyone likes to feel they are not alone in their journey and in their struggles.”
Dr. Alzein notes that this need for sympathy and understanding has birthed a wide variety of mummy blogs and daddy blogs. “So many of them are sweet and funny, helping parents make it through difficult – sometimes painful – days and nights. Interacting with this type of blog can help you feel understood and heard. Because of their positive attitude, you’ll feel better after reading them, able to get through the moment and cherish your children.”
However, many parenting blogs seem to pit child against parents with sarcasm, spite and sometimes downright cruelty. Engaging with this type of “mean mummy” blog can begin to slant your view on parenting and make having a family seem like a crushing, overwhelmingly negative, thankless task.
Dr. Alzein says, “It’s best to take giant steps away from these types of messages and embrace the magic and miracle of parenthood fully. Work to interact positively with your kids, lead with affection and love, with understanding and sympathy. You’ll see so many changes in your children, yourself and your family when you do.
See your kids as your beloved family, not your enemy
You had kids for a reason, so reflect on that reason every morning before you begin your day – and you’ll start off with a joyful attitude. Remember that when unpredictable things happen – spilled cereal, forgotten lunch, last minute need for a ride – they happen because your child makes mistakes, just like you do. Encourage your kids to make things right themselves, because you are a family team, not adversaries. Hand your child a cloth to wipe up the milk, explain that you’re sorry they’re hungry but getting to school with their lunch is just impossible and help your child understand that requesting a ride at the last minute is disrespectful of your time. “When you show your child that you expect them to problem-solve in a healthy manner, they will begin to do it more and more often,” says Dr. Alzein. “You’ll also see that explaining to your child instead of yelling at your child will promote positive behaviour changes. Your kids want to be on your team, and they want to be on a winning team.”
It doesn’t always have to be cheese pizza
“Providing only what your kids want and ignoring your own needs will just make you resentful,” says Dr. Alzein, “and it won’t give them an opportunity to expand their own tastes, preferences and viewpoints.” When it seems like the only place you ever go as a family is to the jumpy playground, it’s time to consider parents’ needs as well. “Involve your kids in your hobbies too,” notes Dr. Alzein, “whether it’s biking, golfing, hiking, gardening or going to museums. By sharing your enthusiasm for a diverse variety of activities, your child will become enthusiastic too, and begin to understand and appreciate experiences that will carry them into adulthood – building team and family spirit. You’ll also find a bonus here in years to come The more you include your child in your passions, the more you’ll have to talk about together as they grow.”
You don’t have to be a “Mean Mum” to have good kids
Setting limits on your children is a very good thing. Kids of all ages need to understand the rules you put in place should be followed. Dr. Alzein cautions, “Being a strict disciplinarian with little to no flexibility doesn’t make kids toe the line It can make them angry, unconfident and unwilling to speak up for themselves.” Explain to your kids – even the smallest toddlers – that your restrictions on their behaviour are because you want to protect them – their physical health, their emotional well-being and their chances of success in life. Treat your kids as intelligent, feeling people, with goals, needs and ideas of their own. “It’s wonderful to negotiate with your kids,” says Dr. Alzein. “It teaches them their opinion is important, that is should be heard and that they are also part of the family team. Listen with an open mind to what they are actually saying and thoughtfully consider their point of view. You may find that loosening or changing a rule is really in their best interests. And that doesn’t make you a “Cool Mum”; it makes you a great parent.”
To embrace parenthood and the laughter- and joy-filled life your family can build together, avoid social media sites that make you cranky and unhappy about being a parent. Find parenting blogs that make you feel good about being a parent. Dr. Alzein says, “Your paediatrician should have suggestions about sites with positive, helpful content. If you are feeling overwhelmed by parenting, or just don’t feel good about the ways in which your family interacts, talk to your paediatrician. They would be willing and able to help you, or to direct you to resources that can.”