The Problem with “Get it Right” Parenting
Do you evaluate if you’re “getting it right” as a parent, by how well your daughter’s performing?
This feels logical. You think, “If my daughter is behaving and performing well, then I am doing great, but if not, I must be failing.”
Here is the problem with this thinking.
You see your daughter in a jillion situations throughout the day. Each interaction becomes an invitation to judge yourself to see if you are “getting it right.”
When you look to your daughter to see if you are getting the parenting thing right, you are setting yourself up for big time disappointment.
On one hand it’s understandable, but she is an unreliable gage. Parenting, teenage girl, and conflict, all go together. She wants to stay out late and you want her home early.
Here is what can happen.
When you don’t get her approval, you question if you are making the right decision?
You are going to end up dazed and confused if you look to your daughter for validation.
You will not get her approval, because she wants her way. If she can’t go to the party, she is not going to tell you that you are making the right decision.
Checking with your daughter to see if you are “getting it right” is a total setup for failure. First of all, it gives her way too much power.
“Mom it’s all your fault!!!!!”
You can’t rely on her words. There are too many variables. Your daughter is a fabulous and wonderful person. But if she is tired, hungry, and hormonal or triggered in her limbic system, she can be mean as a snake. Teenage girls are up and down like a roller coaster. Her words are more about her mood than the truth. She will tell you are the most wonderful mother in the world if she is getting her way and you are the worst mother if she isn’t. Sometimes it’s not about you at all, it’s really about that mean teacher. You are her scapegoat.
There is a certain psychological warfare that can happen between mothers and daughters. Your daughter knows where your vulnerable places are. If she feels shamed by you or anybody else, she is primed to attack you with the mean voice. “I hate you. You are the worst mom. You don’t have a life. You’re so old. You are weird.”
“If my daughter is happy, I’ve done a good job.”
You want your daughter to be happy and you want peace in your home. An unhappy daughter can drive you nuts by complaining, getting angry or acting hysterical.
We are tempted to feel it’s our job to make our daughter’s happy. “If my daughter is happy, then I am getting it right. If she is unhappy, then I am failing.” You are in a heap of trouble if you think your daughters happiness is a measurement of you “getting it right.”
It’s normal for teenagers to be moody broody. It’s ok if she is not happy. She has fluctuating hormones and an undeveloped brain. Your daughter’s moods will be all over the map in one day.
If you believe you are responsible for her happiness it’s going to be a lose- lose situation for both of you.
You are going to spoil her. You end up buying her way too much so you can see her smile and hear her say, “I love you mommy.” Your girl is going to use the unhappy card to manipulate you.
She will get out of her responsibilities. You’ll end up doing way too much for her. You’ll finish her homework and clean her room, to avoid her having a meltdown.
You are too lenient leaving her unprotected. You want her to be happy so you cave in and let her do things that you are uncomfortable with and could put her in danger. You go against your better judgment. You let her go to the party where the parents aren’t home. You say yes to her going to her friend’s house even though you know she should be studying for her test.
“If my daughter’s angry then I’m not getting it right.”
You can’t base how you are doing on your daughter’s negative reaction. Quite the contrary, if your daughter has a fit, good chance you are doing things right. She’ll tell you that “you are the most lame mom on the block,” to get her way. You can’t protect your daughter without conflict.
“If she does the right thing all the time, I’m getting it right.” This is not true. You want your daughter to practice making choices. This includes making the wrong choices. Part of healthy development is making mistakes and learning from them.
“If she is successful then I’m getting it right.”
Of course we want our daughters to be successful, but she will not be successful 100 percent of the time. She is going to experience ups and downs. Failure is a good thing and is important for developing her character.
Let’s examine the message “If she is successful then I’m getting it right.”
If you believe this message you are going to be hyper-focused on your daughter’s performance. Your daughter will feel the intensity of your disappointment. This puts a lot of pressure on your daughter to perform.
Your well being and self worth is not dependent on your daughter’s performance. When you believe it does, her success becomes about you. You can only feel good about yourself when she is doing well.
The reverse is true. Is she doesn’t do well on a test, you take it personal. You feel like a failure. You worry about what other people are going to think about your daughter and about you.
When you combine taking it personally with all her ups and downs, you are like a volcano that’s going to blow. You can’t keep all those shameful feelings and thoughts to yourself. You are going to emotionally react and your daughter will be the target.
When you are dependent on your daughter’s success to feel good about yourself, it leaves you feeling powerless. Thank God there is another way. Next week I will share another parenting approach that will leave you feeling empowered.