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I lost my temper with my daughter. I feel like I’m failing as a parent | Parents and parenthood

By on March 23, 2021 0

The dilemma I am a single mother of two. My 11 year old daughter and I have constant arguments and feel like I’m failing as a parent. I don’t think it’s normal to get into outbursts at his age and I don’t want it to be our relationship. I work and find it very difficult to balance everything. I can be quite tired and emotionally drained and not have the patience I need to be the mother I want to be. I’m not happy that I recently slapped my daughter. I know I need help.

A few years ago we did a class together that was supposed to bring us closer, and it was great. However, things have gone wrong again now that she is getting older. Her dad and I don’t get along well, so I don’t have any support from him and never had while we were living together. We’re just not on the same page when it comes to parenting.

I know my daughter needs more of my time, so the other day I took her to dinner. It was just us and we had fun. The problem is that I don’t have a lot of free time for the house, cooking, cleaning, shopping and more work.

Mariela answers Of course not. That’s why your letter is so heartbreaking. You clearly love your daughter and I’m so glad you chose to write from Australia. I’m no expert on the law where you live, but I checked and it’s legal to hit your kids, as long as it’s “reasonable”. However, if you act “unreasonably,” you risk committing an assault. Letting the state dictate what is or is not “reasonable” in your family life may seem like a slippery slope, but the reality is that hitting children is a form of domestic violence and should be treated as such.

Seems like it only happened once and maybe that’s what prompted you to write. I hope it is, because it means you have the good sense to see it for what it is: an unacceptable escalation in the already difficult relationship between you and your child. This must not continue, as you clearly know, so my first step would be to find a helpline or counselor to provide you with coping suggestions and practical help on how to communicate better (a good point of east departure Raisingchildren.net.au). It may seem like an extra burden on your already busy schedule, but your time with your daughter is limited. These are precious years that you don’t want to waste on unnecessary acrimony. Before you know it, she’ll be out and alone, so this important crossroads won’t exist forever.

That you are struggling is obvious and the reasons are not only understandable but trivial. We live in a world under pressure where making ends meet while raising happy, healthy children is a daily challenge. Try to remember that as an elder, her sensitivity to your stress is much greater than you might think.

Your daughter is also approaching adolescence, a process that often begins earlier when the parents separate. It bears repeating that there are two phases in our lives where hormones take their toll and rationality disappears. One is unfairly reserved for mature women approaching menopause, the other is in adolescence. In youth, with the victim lacking the behavioral restraint and self-discipline that maturity brings, it can be a patience sapping process for a parent to work through the pangs of their child’s biological turmoil. The most constructive advice I can offer is to not make it personal or take it personally.

You say you don’t have his father’s support, and maybe that seems like a misfortune, but keep in mind that it might actually be a blessing not to have to negotiate the additional discord caused by different approaches to raising children.

I can recommend two of the many books out there that offer insight into teenagers. One of my favorites is Get out of my life… But take me and Alex to town first by Suzanne Franks. Not only does the title provide some much-needed levity, but instead of giving rules to fail, the book tries to explain what’s going on. In the same way, The teenage brain by Frances E Jensen and Amy Ellis Nutt has science-based, pulse-reducing insights to offer.

Free time is something we’re supposed to get used to again during lockdown, but anyone trying to balance parenthood, housework and leftover job crumbs will appreciate that it’s less and less available. For better or worse, bringing babies into the world comes with the expectation that you will keep your end of the bargain. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what life demands of you, and as a single mom of two, you’ll know that better than anyone. You have my sympathy and understanding, but the weight is still on your shoulders. Instead of trying to cram it all in, you need to figure out what you can afford to let slip. And, as we both know, your relationship with your child is non-negotiable.

If you have a dilemma, send a quick email to [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @mariellaf1

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