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Parenting Through the Bad Times

by Ronald A. Rowe | October 10th, 2012 | Tweens

Parenting — good, purposeful parenting — is not easy under even the best of circumstances. Even when times are good and life is flowing along nicely, being a good parent is a taxing enterprise filled with land mines and pitfalls. But when times are tough, well, that’s a whole other level of difficult.

It is so easy to fly off the handle at your child when things are going badly at work, or there is bad news from the doctor, or your marriage is not what it once was. And tweens, so moody and adept at pushing buttons, only exacerbate the problem.

It is up to us as parents to manage our external life — even in the bad times — without taking our problems out on our children. In fact, your tween can be a wonderful helper and ally in the times of trouble if you will keep in mind a few simple truths.

It’s not his fault — remember that whatever is going on outside your home has nothing to do with your child. If you recognize that you are aggravated and therefore susceptible to flying off the handle, just remember to take a pause. Yes, your tween left his gym shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor. Yes, you’ve repeatedly told him not to. But is that what’s really bothering you? Is it worth a blow up? If not, take a deep breath and speak calmly.

If you don’t tell her, she won’t know — your tween’s life experience covers a span of 11-13 years and doesn’t include jerky bosses, mid-life crises, or menopause. There’s no way that she can understand what you’re going through without some insight. She doesn’t need to know all the gory details, but if you take the time to explain — in whatever level of detail is appropriate to your personal situation — she’s a whole lot more likely to empathize. You may even find that she will want to do something to help — contributing more to the household chores, offering supportive words, or just snuggling up on the couch.

Feel the Love — Don’t let your outside frustrations block the flow of positive emotion between you and your child. It can be really hard, but force yourself to push the other garbage to the side and hear — really hear — what you child is saying. Build him up when you feel low. It will come back to you.

These few simple steps won’t work magic in your life, but they will help you contain the collateral damage when life is blowing up all around you.

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