As I was preparing to sit down and write this essay I decided to first go to the curb and pick up my weekly Culver City News—Maybe I’ll get a little inspiration, I thought to myself. As I walked through my living room I noticed my daughter sitting on the sofa with her computer on her lap, tapping away at the keys while our larger than life television was presenting her favorite crime show. I gently asked her what she was doing and she said, “My summer homework.” I took a very deep breath, you know, the Yoga kind, and said as calmly as I could, “Great, but we don’t do our homework in front of the TV, so please turn it off.” Which she did immediately. As I continued my walk to the curb I couldn’t help but think about the irony in my having to remind my 16 year old daughter that we don’t do our homework in front of the TV! I give lectures and teach parents everyday to limit and monitor the use of screen technologies in their homes, and here I was—face to face with my own humanity, being reminded that the job of parenting takes consistent diligence and patience.
I hear from parents all the time about the frustrations of feeling like their kids just don’t listen, or cooperate. “How many times should I tell my child something before he/she actually does it?” My answer, “As many times as it takes”. Parenting is not for sissies or the faint of heart. My studies in psychology and child and adolescent development have taught me the theory about why children and teens behave the way they do. And, how it is that I, as a parent, should deal with these behaviors in a loving, supporting manner that builds self-confidence, self-reliance and empowers children to grow and develop into healthy functioning adults. Yet, there are times when I am just too exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated or just plain burnt out from all that goes on in the life of juggling my career, parenting, being a wife, and managing a home to respectfully remind my girls that WE DON’T DO OUR HOMEWORK IN FRONT OF THE TV!
How is it we can keep our sanity and maintain a sense of patience in times like these? Extreme self-care, as I have written here before, is an absolute for making sure that you have the stamina and energy to endure all that we manage in our lives. Above and beyond that I recommend that every parent have a basic understanding of the ages and developmental stages our children go through. For many parents this knowledge normalizes their child’s behavior. Instead of feeling like your child is the root cause of all your frustration because you have to repeat yourself 50 times a day, you can simply take one of those deep Yoga breaths, and repeat yourself anyway. It is absolutely, developmentally appropriate that children need reminders about the limits and boundaries you have set for them. So the next time you have to repeat yourself, be grateful and try to do it with acceptance and the knowledge that we all needed to hear things more than once while we were growing up too!