The other day I was caught off guard by a message I had received on Facebook: Jennifer–I’m needing advice on discipline with the kids… what tactics do you use with yours? The message went on to detail specific situations with which this particular mom was struggling.
My initial thought to this request was disbelief. Why in the world would anyone ask me for advice on discipline? Clearly this person hadn’t read my blog detailing my many failings!
I was also surprised because we haven’t seen each other in years as we’re in different states. In fact, I’ve never met this mom’s children, but we know each other from a brief time in a small group that Matt and I led. We don’t have the depth of friendship that I would need before I could ask someone for help and admit I’m struggling.
Even if I had that depth of friendship with another mom, I still might not ask for advice. I carry parenting so close to my heart. It is the one area of my life where I feel most vulnerable, carry the weight of my failings most days, yet want to succeed more than anything. After receiving this message, I found it curious that pride and shame at my shortcomings kept me from doing the one thing that could help me succeed with my children–talking to those currently in the trenches.
Sure, I pray every day for wisdom; I talk to my mom, but rarely do I open up and admit to another mom that I don’t know how to handle a certain problem with my children. I’m afraid of judgment, afraid that even though I am friends with someone, the thought will enter her mind that I must not have control of my children. I’m afraid that my children’s antics will become the topic of dinner conversation between my friend and her spouse that night.
And I’m afraid that this rationale is rather silly. Chances are that if I opened up, so would my friend. She would probably admit that she struggles, too, perhaps not with the same issue but in another area of parenting. Instead of carrying our burdens alone, we could help each other with the load. But first we need to share.
I was inspired by this mom’s openness, and as I wrote a response to her, I decided that I, too, would ask for help from the experts–moms, dads, grandparents, aunts or uncles–because there is no shame in it. In fact, if there is one person whom I don’t trust, it is the person who conveys the idea that he or she doesn’t struggle. I have to wonder what that person is hiding….
…so today I challenge you to come out of hiding. In the comments below, ask the experts! What’s one area of parenting where you need a tip? And since you’re also an expert, what’s one tip that you can offer other parents or caregivers of kids? Let’s help each other today and admit that none of us has it all together. And while we know that statement to be true, we also know that each of us has a lot to offer!
I’ll start: For parents with children that outnumber your own arms, how do make sure that one of them doesn’t pull away from you in a store or any other public place?
My one tip is to make sure you are dressed and ready before your kids wake up. The days when I accomplish this little task go so much smoother than days that start off with kiddos getting into mischief because I wasn’t fully ready to supervise.