Relaxed parenting is something we all strive for. We all worry about the mistakes we feel we are making.  I know I certainly did and still do!  Later I will share one of the many mistakes I made with my children.  This one was with my eldest a few years ago.  However, moving on, do you get anxious about the effects your mistakes might have on your child?  How can we become relaxed?

In issue 43 of our Growing Child we focus on ‘relaxed parenting’ and try to reassure you that the above questions are important and are concerns of so many parents. The following points will hopefully provide some comfort for all you parents out there.

First of all, everyone, even the most well-known experts in child development, make mistakes at one time or another. It’s part of being human!  So there is no need to be overcome by guilt if you make mistakes from time to time. Mistakes are unlikely to cause any harm as long as you are being reasonable and are genuinely trying to help your child.

To answer our question, take a moment and consider the following.  Do you find yourself getting wound up about what you have done, and why? Is it possible that you are losing some of your ability to relax as a parent?  If this is the case, just take a step back from what you are doing.  Become mindful of how you are feeling and why you are feeling this way.   Take a break, breathe in and relax.  You will find that you are now actually calming yourself.

By doing yourself this favour, you are actually doing your child a favour.  Your child needs a relaxed and happy environment in which to grow and develop.  You can make life easier for both you and your child, by keeping the following guidelines:

  • Realise and accept that you will make mistakes.
  • Focus your attention on doing what is good for your child rather than on the guilt for what you may have done wrong.
  • Give yourself and your child the gift of a relaxed home environment.

Now to share one of my blunders (of many!).

As you may know I have 3 children and for years we had a ritual of all sitting down at the kitchen table for an hour before dinner to complete homework, all of us working happily on whatever each had to do.  My youngest at this stage was in infants, my daughter in 2nd class and my eldest in 5th class.

So one day during our homework session Jack pipes up that his teacher says I should sit down with him to help him with his homework.  The first thing that ran through my mind was ‘WHAT?’ I thought he was having a wee joke.  I asked him ‘What do you mean?’  He told me his teacher was asking the class if parents sit beside them to help with homework.  ‘And’ was my response to what he had just told me.  ‘Well’ said Jack, ‘I told her you never sit beside me’.

I was so annoyed, and can remember exactly how I felt.  I was thinking how could he say such a thing, I always sit with them and do my best to help with homework.  And then anger set in, I told him to go to his room as I was just too upset to even talk about this huge lie he had just told his teacher.  I then set about writing a very sharp note to Jack’s teacher.  I was letting her know how we always do homework as a family. And she has no need to worry about homework in this household, thank you very much. You get the picture!

An hour or so had lapsed. I finally calmed down a little so I sent my daughter to get Jack to come back down from his room to finish his homework.  Jack completed his homework and we all had a very sombre dinner.  Unfortunately, I was still feeling so hurt and betrayed and was definitely not a very relaxed parent that evening.

Before Jack went to bed, he let me know that he didn’t understand why I was so angry with him. And went on to point out by saying, ‘Mammy you never sit beside me, you always sit beside Kate and George because they need more help’. The world view of a child. My heart just sank and I felt awful.

This is a perfect example of how our child sees something literally and is 100% right.  In Jack’s eyes I never sat beside him even though we were all sitting at the same table!  One of the many mistakes I’ve made and of course the many times I’ve felt guilty. Needless to say the note for the teacher was torn up and apologies, hugs and kisses were given in abundance!