I’ve been meaning to write this blog post for a long time, but didn’t have the words to organize my thoughts around this topic. Ya know when you feel so passionately about something that it all just kind of swirls around in our head in a malestrom? Yeah, that’s this topic for me. And I’m so passionate about it because this topic, controlling your kids, is ruining motherhood. And there’s so many layers to all of this, so let’s jump right into it.
First we’re going to address the two big lies society has told us about moms. Then I want to address a couple different areas of parenthood that we absolutely cannot control. Lastly, we’re going to end on a positive note about how we can set up our children, and ultimately ourselves, for success.
The two biggest lies society has sold to moms.
Society has duped moms into thinking they can control another human being.
I think the biggest life lesson of all time is learning that you can’t control other people. We learn that we can’t control our friends, family, spouse, or coworkers. But then a woman has a baby and all the sudden we expect her to suddenly be able to control another human being. That’s just…not how this works.
Children are whole human beings with their own desires, will, intellect, and emotions. Believing that you can control those aspects of another person leads to feelings of failure and despair. We’ve bought the lie that if we can’t control our kids and make them do exactly as we please, then we are a bad mom.
Society has duped moms into thinking their kid’s behavior is a reflection on them as a parent.
I’m not gonna lie though – sometimes it is, especially as the kids get older. I worked with elementary aged kids for five years and my husband has for eight – we can indeed confirm that sometimes it is a reflection of the parents. I emphasize “sometimes” because there can be things we don’t see going on, such as oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).
But when it comes to toddlers and younger kids and certain behaviors, a child’s very public meltdown or tantrum is absolutely not a reflection of the parent. Emotions, and therefore behaviors, are explosive at that age, and to put the pressure on moms to somehow control that explosion is wrong.
Moms are freaking out, you guys.
And by “freaking out” I mean majorly stressing, feeling like failures, and overall not enjoying motherhood. Why? Because they’re spending precious energy on attempting to control things that are not at all in their control. It’s exhausting work!
But the key to being a happier, calmer mom is to realize the things you cannot control and let them go. For example, we had to recently bail on a family dinner at a restaurant because my toddler just couldn’t get it together. My husband and I both took her outside several times to get her a more appropriate place to work through her emotions, but in the end we packed up and left early. We were frustrated to leave in such a rush, but in no way did I feel like a bad parent. I matter-of-factly carried her through the restaurant surf-board style. That’s what I could do. That’s what was in my control. Making her stop feeling her feelings was not in my control.The key to being a happier, calmer mom is to realize the things you cannot control and let them go. Click To Tweet
A non-exhaustive list of things moms cannot control.
What, when, or how much their kid eats.
This is probably the most common power struggle I see moms dealing with. This one is hard because you have to face it several times a day. But short of shoveling food into their mouths, we cannot make kids eat what we want them to eat. However, what we can control is the food we are offering. No typical toddler* is going to starve themselves in front of a full plate of food.
A great resource for taking the pressure out of eating is @kids.eat.in.color.
*I realize there can be an extra layer to this issue, as some kids fall off their growth curve. Be sure to discuss any and all feeding issues with your pediatrician!
When their kid will potty train.
I see this one a lot too. As if we can control when our children are ready to use the toilet. There are signs of readiness we can look out for, but veteran moms agree that waiting until the child is ready is best. Trying to force it can result in lots of legitimate control issues for the child, such as withholding bowel movements for days at a time.
When their kid will reach developmental milestones.
I see lots of moms worrying about what they can do to foster their kid’s development. While there’s lots of things you can certainly try, the truth is that none of it will make a difference until your kid is ready. I’m not saying you shouldn’t do these things with your kid – I’m just saying to release yourself of the pressure to make your kid develop. I drove myself crazy over my toddler’s speech.
On the flip side, I think it’s also important for moms of kids who are advanced in their development to realize it’s nothing they did. Your kid is not advanced because of all your hard work. If that were the case, most kids would be advanced because most moms I know work diligently with their kids. Your kid is advanced simply because they are.
When their kid will sleep.
I’m definitely calling the kettle black here because I’m a borderline psychopath when it comes to my kids’ sleep. But the truth is that I cannot control when my kids sleep. What I can control is setting them up with opportunities to be the most successful when it comes to sleep.
For more information on age-appropriate sleep schedules, I highly recommend joining this Facebook group! I talked about this group before in my post about different Facebook groups that helped me survive the first year of motherhood because it’s that amazing! Such an informational gold mine!
The two things moms can control.
As I said, that’s a non-exhaustive list, so I’m sure you can think of several more personal examples about your own child(ren). I’m praying that reading that list helped take some of the pressure off of you. With those situations, all we can do is the best we can do. The rest is up to the child. With that being said, there are, of course, things we can control.
Moms can control the opportunities they give their children.
We are responsible for setting our kid up with ample opportunities, such as offering delicious and healthy meals or setting an age-appropriate schedule. We can set them up for success all day long, but the choice to be successful must be theirs.
Moms can control the example we model for our children.
Just as our kids are in control of their behavior, we are in control of ours. So we must model the behaviors we want our children to have. This means things like not eating foods in front of them you don’t want them to have, prioritizing your own sleep, not yelling when angry, responding with a gentle voice, handling disappointment or failure with grace and composure, etc. We can’t expect these things from our children if we are unwilling to do them ourselves.We can't expect our children to display behavior we aren't willing to model. #momlife #motherhood Click To Tweet
It goes without saying that raising children (especially these days) is a huge responsibility. It is our job to instruct and discipline them, but it’s about time that everyone stops putting the pressure on moms to control their children!
Did you find this post helpful or encouraging? If so, share it with a mom who needs to shed the pressure to control her kids!