I lost my temper with my five-year-old today. She had asked if she could wear flip-flops on her bare feet to play outside, and with the weather still a bit cool, I told her that it was too cold to wear flip-flops and that she would need to wear shoes and socks. She smiled, said OK, and bounced through the kitchen toward to the back door where we keep our shoes.
A few minutes later, I headed outside to put something in the garbage can and noticed her running around in her flip-flops without socks. When I could’ve simply reminded her what we had talked about, I instead became angry and ordered her inside to change her shoes. She told me that she forgot, but my rational brain had already disengaged from my emotional one. I then spent a good many minutes lecturing her on the importance of listening to her mother.
As soon as I calmed down, I realized my mistake. As is often my downfall, I was already stressed – her four-year-old sister was having a tantrum loud enough to wake the dead, or at least the baby – when I saw my five year old without her shoes. I was taking a personal timeout when I stepped outside with the trash and saw my five year old in her flip-flops and my stress splattered on her.
Certainly, I owed my five year old an apology. And after beating myself up about it for a little while, and re-reading parts of Discipline without Distress by Judy Arnall, I owed myself an apology, too.
For many parents curious about attachment parenting, but not yet ready to completely embrace the concept, this style of parenting has the reputation of being only for super-parents – for perfect parents who never feel out-of-sorts, who never struggle with their choices, who never lose their temper. Perhaps, there are a few of these wonder parents out there, but I believe most of you would agree with me that attached parents aren’t perfect parents. We do make mistakes; we do have to apologize to our children and forgive ourselves for some of our thoughts and actions. We just don’t talk about it.
That’s a shame.
Attachment parenting has the capability to change the world – to attain world peace, literally. But first, parents need to get on board with incorporating the concept of attachment parenting into their childrearing philosophies. It’s hard to do when attachment parenting appears to be placed on such a high pedestal. We need to bring it back down to the level where attachment parenting is achievable; where any parent can become an attached parent, not just those idealized parents who never lose their patience.