Some Unorthodox Parenting Advice

Let me just start this blog entry by stating that I love reading Glennon Doyle Melton's "Momastery" blog. I find her funny, honest and genuine. She recently wrote a good piece of parenting advice titled: "to survive the early years, all you need is a paper bag". This is actually quite good adve and I'd just like to add a word or two.

Ms. Melton lamented "I needed a strategy to help me regain my peace after I had already lost it. Because I am going to lose it, frequently." We all do. Very few parents, including myself, are able to keep the peace in their homes with kids in a meltdown. So, what do we do to "regain [our] peace"? Ms. Melton suggests putting a paper bag over your head (and helpfully suggests drawing a happy face on the bag to conceal your "scowling and hyperventilating and ruing the day [you were] born.")

I agree that frequently when the kids are upset and angry and (probably) tired, its good for everyone, including the parents, to have a "time out". This might be accomplished a la Glennon and her paper bag or, if you find yourself without a paper bag, excuse yourself to the bathroom. It sounds strange but when you think about it, its one of the only rooms in the house that you're "allowed" to go in by yourself, lock the door, and have a few minutes to yourself. This is exactly what we need sometimes. It allows us a moment to take a deep breath or two, recognize that the situation probably isn't 1/10th as bad as it "feels" at the moment and label your emotion. Now, before the parents of little children call me out, I remember well the years when my children would follow me right into the bathroom. So, if you prefer, as calmly as you can manage state: "I am feeling a bit frazzled. I need 10 minutes to myself." Then, assuming of course that your children are in a safe place and can be left for 10 minutes, excuse yourself to the bathroom and LOCK THE DOOR. Seriously--look at your watch or phone or set a timer for 10  minutes and stick to it. Even if you're feeling better in 5, take another 5! 

Now, if you're not able to let your kids be on their own for 10 minutes because of lack of supervision or other safety concerns, Ms. Melton's suggestion of the bag might just be what you need, too. It's kind of like waiting out the temper tantrum. It lets the kids know that you're still there but that you need to momentarily block out the chaos so that you can gather your thoughts and do some deep breathing, recite an affirmation or two (try "this too shall pass" or "breathing in, I feel calm, breathing out, I smile") or whatever you need to do to not fuel the fire by yelling, screaming or worse. 

Either of these options models for kids another way of dealing with intense emotions. Giving yourself a time out prevents you from saying or doing something that you will most likely later regret. Sitting with the kids during their (and your) meltdown shows them that even when you're feeling awful, even when EVERYONE is feeling awful, you can sit with it and you don't have to say or do anything to change it--just wait it out and it will likely resolve itself. I know it feels eternal when you're in the midst of it, but I promise, it really does "pass" and within a relatively short time, your children (and yourself) will be back to "normal". 

To read Glennon Doyle Melton's piece, click here. I also highly recommend her blog on Momastery.