As a parent of 2 and 3 year old children I often find myself in situations where I just want to scream! Ever have that happen to you? How about wanting to pull your hair out? What about those times when you just want to throw something across the room, preferably not your child?
If you can identify with any of these scenarios, as I do, it’s likely that you’re feeling helpless and/or powerless. For me, most of the times I feel this way involves some sort of situation where I’m trying to get one of the kids to do something and CAN’T! Allow me to list some times and you can let me know if any of these ring a bell:
- Getting them to take a bath
- Getting them to get dressed
- Getting them to get undressed
- Getting them to brush their teeth
- Getting them to eat
- Getting them go to sleep
- Getting them to wake up
- Getting them to respond to you
- Getting them to stop hitting
- Getting them to stop running away
And the list goes on…
There’s two things that are in common every single time any of these situations occur for me. First, I can easily get a charge in which I am PISSED! The second, is that if I really sit down and think about what’s going on the following thought occurs. I cannot get my children to do what I want them to do.
Hello Helpless and Powerless!
Many of us don’t want to think of ourselves as “being” helpless and powerless because that’s what you would identify someone as weak possessing or perhaps very old or even very young, like our children. Well here’s the good news! Helpless and Powerless are not states of being (they are not who we are) they are just feelings!
When we identify with helpless and powerless as feelings we can treat them as such and not become victims of them. When we find ourselves in the situations I mentioned above and turn to anger, isolation, etc. it means the feelings of “helpless and powerless” are now bigger than us and we’ve just become our own victim.
Just this morning my wife was running late for work. Jake (who is 2) just finished “going potty” and wanted to dress himself. Of course, he had all the time in the world and at the rate he was going it would’ve been Friday by the time he was done. I went to assist him in getting dressed. I sensed my wife’s distress around being late for work and wanted to help. Jake told me he didn’t want my help and the feelings came on! I started to feel really frustrated and pissed! I knew I couldn’t let these feelings mess up my whole day including my families so I removed myself from the situation.
I later thought about what happened and realized a couple of things took place. First of all, to some degree I did take on my wife’s distress. She was late (not me) and she was feeling stressed (not me) yet to some extent I took on her feelings. Obviously, I didn’t make good use of my boundaries as I could have respected her feelings and appreciated where she was but not let myself get worked up. In turn, when Jake wouldn’t let me help him I had feelings of helpless and powerless. Here my wife needed help and I couldn’t do anything (short of physically forcing him to get dressed, etc.).
So here’s the good news! All Parents FEEL Helpless and Powerless at some point. All parents respond (at some point) in a way that they’re not happy about.
Because we’re not actually helpless and powerless we can choose to accept this as a feeling and deal with it as such. So the next time your little one isn’t getting dressed when you’re running late consider the following:
- Acknowledge your feeling! Hello Helpless and Powerless!
- Acknowledge that you’re an adult and you’re not helpless and powerless, you just feel that way.
- Choose to respond in your adult reality which is in a calm, loving, respectful way not as a victim to your feelings in anger.
Remember, life is about progress not perfection. The very fact that you even consider this next time, EVEN IF you still get pissed off, is a great step in the right direction. Spending time loving ourselves is the ONLY way we’re going to be able to have a place to love our children.