Cover image via ParentMap
In teaching, we have a cardinal rule – We do not punish students if they do not know how. If a student fails because they don’t know how, then our job is to educate them, not to punish them.
As a Parenting Trainer, my clients often ask me, “Teacher Kean, am I a bad parent?”
Like so many of life’s mysteries, I think this one is best answered with a story.
As a single parent, I often struggle between growing my business, and the demands of raising two highly active boys (10 and 6).
Yesterday was one such day.
It was supposed to be a happy day. I bought Minecraft for my boys because they scored well on their exams. Needless to say, they were really looking forward to playing it.
The problem was, I was fatigued from a long week of work, and I just wanted to nap a bit longer on the couch. I promised to install the game for them at 9 pm.
By 8 pm, they were causing a mini ruckus and coercing me to wake up and set up the game.
Begrudgingly, I woke up, in a foul mood, and started to install the game. My boys tittered excitingly.
I couldn’t help it. I muttered, darkly, “It’s always about what you want. What about what BABA wants?”
Our words have power. In this situation, my power was devastating.
In an instant, their excited, joyful expressions were wiped away and their faces fell.
“Sorry, baba.” Guilt was written all over their little faces. The magic of the day was lost, irrevocably.
I was filled with regret and guilt.
So, let me ask you, am I a bad parent?
The truth is, I have no interest, and I’m extremely unqualified, in judging or labelling anyone as “good” or “bad”.
What I AM very interested in is – “HOW do we move on from here?”
A further truth, I knew that I was not in the correct mindset to educate anyone. I was still angry and resentful from my disturbed sleep.
So, I said, “Thank you for apologizing. I overreacted. I’ll talk to you later, alright?”
Then, I focused on installing the game and took the time to reset and re-orient myself.
Finally, when I felt better about myself, I apologized to my sons,
“It was not correct for me to overreact like that. I apologize. It is also incorrect for us to wake others up and force them to install our games. If we do not respect others, we will find it very hard to gain the respect of others as well.”
The night was saved. We laughed and enjoyed the game together.
None of us is perfect. We are the prisoners of our upbringing and education. We learn our parenting, and problem-solving skills, from our own parents and teachers.
No, most of you are not bad parents.
Perhaps you are unaware that there are more elegant, and joyful ways to bring up and speak to your children.
Maybe, we should stop punishing ourselves that way.
So, let’s begin by eliminating that unhelpful line of thinking. Instead, let’s focus on what actions we can take to move on from our parenting mistakes.
I’m Teacher Kean, a Parenting Trainer, and I can’t wait to speak further with you in the months to come.
Don’t worry, I won’t wake you up from your nap to do so!
Teacher Kean is an experienced Parenting Trainer, specialising in parenting skills and classroom management techniques. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.