Remember where you were — It’s not just physcobabble

Do you remember what you were doing in 5th grade?  What about 9th grade?

If you’re a parent and your kids are driving you crazy, sometimes it pays to stop and try to remember what it was like to be that age.   This is not some call to abandon discipline or to say that your kids can do whatever they want, but I’ve found that I’m often quite more demanding of my kids than I am of myself and I find that my frustration when they don’t meet my expectations is quite often based in unreality.

Fifth grade at Daves Avenue school was a fun year for me (actually except for 3rd grade and 11th grade physics, most of school was fun for me).  My son is in fifth grade and instead of wanting to spend all of his free time reading extra books and becoming a math genious or working on boring but useful drills to increase his future NFL potential, he is more interested in hanging out with his friends, shooting a few baskets, or *gasp* wanting  to play video games.

My ninth grade daughter is a really smart, really funny young girlish womanish type of person.  She runs with straight A’s but instead of wanting to say be the youngest novelist to graduate from Pope High School, she prefers to spend her free time on facebook or watching some crazy British guy criticize the Twillight series on You Tube.

Beyond their habits, my kids occassionally make mistakes.  Little things like dropping glasses of milk on the floor that send glass and debris flying or having friends who break out the glass in my garage doors by hitting basketballs with a baseball bat.  Sound familiar?

Two years ago, I realized that I was really losing my temper with the kids.  Not just getting frustrated with the breakage but moving beyond that into anger.  I’ve apologized to both of them and while I’m far from the perfect parent, I’ve begun to move toward being more understanding.

One of the activities that helps is repeating a few simple words to myself — they’re just kids.

Think back to fifth grade or ninth grade, how did you want to be treated by your parents.  Well in ninth grade, you may have wanted to be ignored by them and certainly publicly ignored.  But in fifth and even in ninth, the last thing that would have helped you respond positively would have been your father yelling at you. 

For parents who are overwhelmed (and who isn’t these days), we have to think back to 5th grade ( all I wanted to do was ride bikes with my friend Neal Opet and John Laporta or play football or trade baseball cards with Greg Phipps).  By ninth grade it was Tunnells and Trolls or talking about girls with Ken Weed.  I certainly wasn’t trying my hand at writing or worrying about my future career.

These are the kinds of things that are NORMAL for kids to do.

And so is breaking things and being loud and many other “kid like” things that often push my buttons as an overwhelmed father.

For me the lesson is simple —

1) Take every opportunity you can to spend time with your kids … they’ll be gone soon.

2) Think of ways that you can show your kids how much you love them (ways that are individual to them)

3) Most of all, remember that they really are just kids and probably aren’t trying to destroy your well conceived plans.

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About kentostby
Kent Ostby is a fiction and efficiency writer who is willing to dabble in just about any other phase of writing as well.

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