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Keep calm and parent on

What to do (or read) when it gets challenging on the homefront.

These days whenever people ask me how parenthood is going, my face gets a bit crinkly and I start stuttering and mumbling. To be honest, it hasn’t been going that well. Summer vacations have routinely been challenging for me for the last few years because the structure and routine of the school year get thrown out the window. This isn’t conducive for children, most especially ones who are “behaviorally challenging.” This is a new way to describe Kieran that I have just learned from reading one of these parenting manuals.d

When summer vacation ended two weeks ago I couldn’t help but breathe a tiny sigh of relief. It’s thoroughly exhausting to struggle and fight and cajole someone every single day. Especially when you have two other children, work responsibilities, and other life obligations that need to be attended to. This is obviously a vortex for “bad parenting.” I don’t mean to be too hard on myself but I sure do feel guilty about the way that I react and respond to my eldest child in situations that are stressful to both of us. This has led me to seek outside help, one of the sources being this book that I am reading and trying to fully absorb by Ross Greene, MD called The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children. The title alone makes it seem like the answer to my never-ending issues with my darling boy.

If you follow my blog or this column at all you probably know that Kieran, my first born, first love, has always been a little spitfire who has challenged me (and my husband) at every new stage of his development. By the end of the summer this year I told David that we needed to seek help from professionals to help us learn how to properly respond and deal with situations that arise with Kieran because I felt that we were doing him a huge disservice with the way we were currently dealing with him. Not to mention that the family dynamic was getting very strained, which needed to be course corrected before it became an ingrained pattern.

At six years old, Kieran is a little person complete with his own thoughts, wants, and needs. Reading this book has helped to change my perspective on why he does (or doesn’t) the things that he does. The theme of the book and the biggest eye opener is this “kids do well if they can.” As a mother this one point of view has helped me see our problems in a completely different light. I always looked at his behavior as something that he could do or change if he wanted. Dr. Greene emphasizes that “behaviorally challenging kids are challenging because they’re lacking the skills not to be challenging.” What a realization! He’s not doing it to me on purpose. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day rigmarole of parenthood you often lose sight of the fact that your kids are just that…kids.

As I continue to read this book (I’m not even done yet and I feel like I’ve already had an amazing breakthrough!), I feel like a weight has been lifted. As a parent, you sometimes feel all alone in the tougher moments, but this book has helped me realize that I’m not the first, last, and only parent to go through these kinds of issues with their children. Reading an objective expert’s take that is backed up research has been so helpful. I highly recommend this book to anyone who might be going through similar things with their children.

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