As a single mom, I fully understand how overwhelming life can become with coordinating schedules, housework & homework, hobbies, career aspirations, self-care for everyone and the list goes on. I firmly believe that God knew exactly how things would play out in life when Emma’s dad and I adopted her … and only her. I consider myself an incredibly competent women, but there are days when I cannot imagine having more than one child. I bow in great admiration to all of the single moms with 2, 3, 4 or even 5 children.
One of the best things I did before becoming a parent was enroll in a child development class and read every love-based parenting book I could get my hands on. The most valuable book I read was “Children: The Challenge” by Rudolf Dreikurs first published in 1964. The book stresses the importance of allowing our children to feel the natural consequences of their choices – which in turn teaches self-responsibility. More than any other resource, this has been my saving grace and has helped alleviate many conflicts between my daughter and I.
From that book I developed my go-to word when things aren’t going as Emma or I had planned. For example, Emma cannot find her __(fill in the blank)__, has forgotten her lunch, or didn’t finish her homework. The powerful word I grasped and use when necessary is “bummer”. Although simplistic, the word serves to put the responsibility of her actions back on her and expresses empathy when you consciously choose the tone. It also serves as a volley back to her to decide how she is going to move forward. When she was much younger, it would be a tantrum or dramatic tears followed by an action created by her to remedy the problem. In the end, she feels more confident about resolving the problem and has a plan to avoid the situation in the future. Plus she knows that her mom is empathetic to her situation and is confident that she will figure it out.
I believe that parents take the discomfort out of life for their children too often. Discomfort is a natural human condition that can result in important learning. Without it, a child goes out into the world as an adult assuming someone or something will remove their discomfort rather than having the coping skills and self-confidence to problem solve through it.
Try saying “bummer” the next time your child cannot find their __(fill in the blank)__. Say it with compassion and confidence that you know your child will find it themselves. As the child heads off to look for their missing belonging, enjoy the feeling of peace that floods you knowing that you don’t have to fix the world.