Updated: Apr 28
It’s a Sunday afternoon and I just kicked my son and three of his friends out of the house. Now, don’t get me wrong, my son’s friends are all wonderful little gentlemen in the making. However, this Sunday, I wanted a quiet house after a Saturday afternoon of kids. Yes, I dared to WANT to have a house that was not overrun by kids
and the bumps, thumps and yells that come with it.
It’s not the other kids that were the problem; it’s my son. He’ll be a wonderful gentleman someday as well but as an only child, his mission every day is to avoid boredom. It’s a full-time battle. He either has to have a friend over, be over a friend’s house or engaged in some activity (electronic or otherwise) that involves other kids or the apocalypse is upon us. So, his disregard for my wants and needs versus his own was the issue. As well as the lack of respect to my request. Kids don't naturally come by that sensitivity but I did my part to throw it off course as well.
As a parent who had their child late in life, I felt responsibility to be attentive and responsive when he was a baby. Good Lord, he couldn’t be bored! Could he? I was making my bed.
As a toddler, it was a mix of parental responsiveness and electronics. Still avoiding boredom. Testing out the bed.
From the ages of 3-7, it was parental responsiveness, electronics, and sports. Keeping boredom at bay. Sitting on the edge of the bed now.
From ages 8-11, it’s gotta do something, all the time, with someone, every day or he’ll die. Boredom is now the sworn enemy! I’m deep in the sheets now and damn, this bed is uncomfortable!
Yes, he was offered books, nature walks, crossword puzzles, Legos, etc., He took the bait sometimes, but he just grew accustomed to being entertained. I take full responsibility for that and for correcting it now every day. It’s a long road, but I’ve started taking back the parental power I gave away at the start. It’s hard to go back and make things right but that’s just what I’m doing. That’s why I got called the “mean mom” today and I’m quite happy about it. I’m out of the bed and standing on the floor!
You see, I did both him, and myself a disservice all those years he had control. Instead of saying no to numerous requests, I kept him happy by honoring them. Even when I shouldn’t have. What was so wrong with him being unhappy? Being unhappy is a natural emotion that everyone should experience and learn how to deal with. By avoiding discomfort for him, I was experiencing discomfort myself and not teaching him how the world works. No one benefited from this.
So today, when I ended his “bro time,” I got called the mean mom because he didn’t get his way. When asked why they couldn’t stay, I simply stated that it was time for them to go. I had things to do. He got mad, pushed his point of view and I stayed firm. They left and my hope is that he was outside, exploring the world with friends, learning new things, and figuring out that even when you don’t get your way, things often turn out just fine. They will command the basement again, just not today.
Little struggles like these (along with personal and professional demands) can make parenting hard and have adverse effects on your emotional, metal, and physical health. That’s what happened to me. I was in a loop of anger, stress, poor eating, and exhaustion for years that lead to weight gain and depression because the need to please and meet all needs was unsustainable. It’s hard to stand your ground and remain resilient under those conditions. When you are providing everything asked and continually asked for more without compliance, reciprocation or even a lousy hug, it wears you down.
Maybe you’ve established boundaries in life and at work and been firm all along and with your kids. I love that about you! I was late to the game and needed support with that. Through self-realization, coaching support, lifestyle, and nutrition changes, I was able to pull out of that nosedive and am in a much better place.
As a result of these challenges and my approach to rebalancing my life, I find working with parents one of the most rewarding parts of being a health coach. While the development of our kids is very important, parents, the people who are charged with raising these good people, need support too. I mean, if you have kids, especially challenging kids, when was the last time someone turned to you and genuinely asked, “how are you doing?” There were days when I thought I was the only one struggling but knew there had to be someone out there looking for relief just like me.
That relief is out there. I am currently developing a program focused on providing support specifically for parents and caregivers seeking balance in their lives. The program provides steps, support, tools, and tips for parents and caregivers to help them focus on their health, reclaim balance, and effectively manage relationships. Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about the program!
Being the “mean mom” now makes me happy because I know I’m putting expectations and rules in place that, while my son may not like them, are providing him structure and opportunities for growth while maintaining my healthy boundaries. I use “yes” more sparingly now, and the overall result is better for everyone. We both win and I actually get MORE hugs now!
Take care and be well!