Adapted rom Chapter 6, The Parenting Bitch: Give Her a Time Out, from The Bitch in Your Head: How to Finally Squash Your Inner Critic, by Jacqueline Plumez, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
I’m a psychologist, career counselor, writer, public speaker and parent. And the most difficult role of all is parent. Combine lots of stress and guilt with having to make instant decisions constantly. That’s hard enough without having your Bitch criticize and second guess you in these three ways:
1. Blaming yourself for your child’s temperament.
Research shows that everyone is born with one of three basic temperaments that can be roughly described as adaptable, shy or irritable. If you give birth to a shy or irritable child, it’s difficult for them to adapt to new experiences or change. Don’t let your Bitch say this is your fault. Instead, spend your energy finding ways to help your child get over the hurdle of new situations. If you “stay calm and carry on,” that will help your child do the same.
2. Believing that children should always be happy.
In fact, if you try to make your children happy by always saying yes, always helping them out of a jam, always giving in if they cry or get angry, you are actually being a bad parent. Why? Parents need to teach children “delay of gratification.” That means, you can’t always get what you want when you want it. Learning how to cope with frustration and failure are important life skills. The tricky part of parenting is to find a healthy mix of indulgence versus letting your child learn from their mistakes.
3. Not taking a time out – for yourself!
The Bitch tries to tell some mothers that it’s selfish to take time for themselves. Nonsense! No one can be on duty twenty four/seven without burning out. A few hours out of the home alone, having lunch with a girlfriend or pursuing your personal interests will help you be a happier mother. When your children are so stressed that they are about to “lose it,” you give them a “time out.” Do the same for yourself!
What to do
Parenting can be a lonely, stressful job. Find a good support group – one that’s honest without being judgmental — to help you through the difficult times. The old adage, “If mom isn’t happy, nobody is happy,” is true. Of course you want your children to be happy, but don’t become a martyr. You have at least equal rights and needs.