Raising kids is hard, yo. Seriously, trying to make sure you bring them up knowing respect, love, laughter, discipline, and everything in between is a struggle sometimes. I want my kids to be happy, but I also want them to know boundaries, and when getting emotional is OK.
I have always told my oldest daughter, Samantha, that being upset is perfectly normal. We all have this feeling from time to time, but it’s how we handle it that’s important. I want her to understand that it’s OK to cry, and it’s OK to be angry, sad, happy, or whatever you happen to be feeling at that moment. However, there are times when it’s not OK to get overly emotional.
For example, Samantha has this thing where she scream cries. At just about everything. OK, not everything, but the things she chooses to get emotional at, which does seem like everything from time to time. She doesn’t get her way: scream cry. Loud noises hurt her ears: scream cry. She gets in trouble for whatever reason: scream cry. She falls down: scream cry. A friend wants to go home: scream cry. I can’t tell you the number of times I got a yellow note home from her Kindergarten teacher because she was scream crying so loud another teacher had to come in and check on her. All because a kid called her a name, or she didn’t get to finish her work, or whatever.
I mean, seriously, it’s just about everything. I feel like we are to blame though. She was an only child for over 5 years, and I had no intentions of changing that. After my experience with postpartum depression, I wanted to steer clear of babies. So, we spoiled her. Gave her everything. Gave into her cries. You name it, we did it.
I wanted her to feel loved and special. I felt as if I wasn’t doing that with the horrible, intrusive thoughts that were in my mind, and the darkness that surrounded me. The days that I felt good, I wanted to make up for the days that I didn’t. The days when I screamed at her for no reason, raged for no reason, or just was smothered by the darkness. There was a reason. It’s because PPD is a bitch, and so is anxiety and any other form of mental illness.
However, those bad days were not the real me, and I felt the need to compensate for them. However, giving into her wants, like toys every time we went to the store, were not things that make up for bad days. Spending time doing what she enjoys, such as art, is the way to do it. I know that now, but at the time I felt it wasn’t enough.
So, here we are, 6 years into her life, and we are stuck. She’s an emotional wreck, a bit immature if you will. Now that her baby sister is here, she doesn’t get the attention as much anymore, so it seems like the tears are here all the time. Or she is trying her hardest to get my attention when it’s not on her, whether in a good or bad way. I don’t know what to do, really. Every child needs discipline and boundaries, so how do you do that with a kid who hasn’t had much of it until recently?
Honestly, and this is probably my guilt from the past 6 years rearing its head, but I feel like she is not her bright, cheerful self anymore because of the change in discipline and boundaries. How do I know if it’s just an act to get her way (which I know she does quite often because the sudden lack of tears and joyful attitude show me that), or if she really is blue about the changes in her life? How do I fix that? How do I show her she is still loved and cared about without giving in to her?
Raising maturity is hard work. We all want our kids to grow up well-rounded, and functioning members of society. So how do we get over the parenting guilt? I know I’m not the only one with the guilt, so how do you get past it? How do you teach your child boundaries, respect, and discipline while also showing them that they are still loved over the moon?