Q: I feel such a failure as a parent sometimes. I start the day positive and by the end of the day I have lost my cool with my child. I’m finding it really hard now my child is 5 years old. He doesn’t seem to follow instructions. He started at football club and the coach said he has a good ability in sport, but now he is just messing around being silly with friends. I think sport is really important for children and I want him to reach is potential. Can you help?
A: The message that it is not easy to be a parent has been shared time and time again. You know the phrase children don’t come with a manual is said over and over. However its utterly true. We enter parenthood with hopes and dreams. We picture the child we have doing certain things, maybe achieving things we hoped for ourselves. We might imagine them inheriting our traits, our values, our attitudes.
However, the little person we parent will be born in a different time, maybe a different place; surrounded by different influences. Maybe they won’t like sport like you do, maybe they won’t think sport is important? Maybe they will be shy and not a leader. Maybe they will enjoy performing or they will be a science enthusiast. It takes all sorts of people to make a world. Look around at your friends and the different people they are. Not everyone is a power leader or a winning sportsman.
Loving our child fully means some unconditional parenting and this can be hard as it needs space to grow and it won’t follow an exact plan.
The tricky part about parenting is two little words: Free will.
These two words are found in those moments where your child won’t put their shoes on or hold your hand as you cross the road. Or the moment when they drop out of rugby club after you have paid all the fees saying I prefer space club.
The message here is simple: parenting is tricky, it takes self-reflection, none of us are perfect. We are all humans doing the best we can with the skills we have at the time. Be kind to yourself.
This goes for children also They are doing the best they can with the stage of development they have reached and the parenting they have received so far.
When our children grow up there will be lots of chances to step into success as actors, politicians, teachers, artists, designers etc. They will find their way.
Just for now maybe we could aim for a safe haven, a home built on acceptance and a loving understanding of human failures and the journey of learning.
Try to learn a little more each day. Reflect on the day as a parent and try again the next day. Maybe talk to your son about what he enjoys and give him chances to try lots of different activities. He may just surprise you on where his talent lays.