The importance of repair in parenting – i.e. it’s OK to get it wrong!
So, picture the scene…. Your whole life has been turned upside down. You’ve been told to stay home, perhaps you must work from home; your children/teenagers have been told to stay home from school. You have a whole new way of living to navigate whist also having to deal with the constant fear of a pandemic that’s sweeping the entire world, causing fear and confusion everywhere!
Sound familiar? You could be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed, tired, panicked or frayed at present. I know I do!
So where does that leave us as parents?
Probably feeling guilty.
If you’re anything like me you’ve probably lost your temper in the last few days once or twice more than you normally would have. You’ve probably found the constant demand for food or attention or whatever else they want/need a little more grating than you normally would because you know what? Your brain is probably already extremely full right now!
I’m here to tell you that’s OK. What really matters is how we communicate this to our young people.
As a Trauma Informed Schools practitioner, I’ve learned about something that changed my life as a parent, it’s called the rule of thirds. Roughly speaking, to raise emotionally resilient young people you only need to get things right a third of the time and can get things spectacularly wrong another third of the time.
What about the remaining third? Well, this is the most important bit because the third part is all about repair. It’s about getting things wrong and being able to say sorry, be honest about your feelings and communicate openly with your child.
So how does this look?
You may know from my previous blog that I have a four year old little girl, and for me it sounds something like this: “I’m so sorry I shouted, mummy is finding things are a bit strange at the moment and sometimes I feel grumpy about it, but I shouldn’t have shouted at you just because you shouted first. We all get a but grumpy, sometimes don’t we? And don’t forget that no matter what I love you.”
For those of you with teenagers it will sound different, but the message is the same. Things suck at the moment and we are all stressed. I acknowledge I might not always get it right, but it doesn’t change the fact that I love you and I’m here for you.
During these difficult times, or at any time for that matter, you do not have to be the perfect parent. Phew!
What matters is that you are kind to yourself and keep communicating with your young people.
It’s OK for them to see you struggle. After all, empathy is about being in someone else’s shoes and we are all in this together! The way they see you deal with and communicate struggle will teach them how to grow into resilient empathic adults.
So, you’ve got this, we’ve got this, and we will come out the other side stronger than ever!
Check out these links for more info and support:
realideas.org – Live events for parents who are trying to work from home with information and activities
actionforchildren.org.uk – Parenting support.
– Blog written by Terrie