My heart has been trudging through tough terrains lately because of some events that happened unexpectedly.
Tough as it may be, it’s going through this challenging time as a mom that has been harder to handle.
In the beginning, there were times when I just wanted to go away and be alone. Twice, I lost my temper at my son. But just as soon as I did that, guilt washed over me. I immediately apologised and held him tight in my arms, assuring him it wasn’t his fault.
This whole experience got me thinking about how I should deal with tough times as a mom. More importantly, how can I help my son to cope with challenges in life?
While I feel a need to be strong for my son’s sake, I don’t want to pretend that things are fine. After all, setbacks are a reality of life and even the little one experiences a bit of that once in a while – like when mommy and daddy refused to buy him a toy even though he was bawling his eyes out and his voice was turning hoarse from crying.
However, at two-and-a-half years-old, he is too young to understand what happened. Yet, I believe he can sense that I’m feeling down, and it probably affected him, as he did throw more tantrums than normal when I was riding out the emotional roller coaster.
But it’s never too early to start thinking. So I imagine the day when my son is old enough, and what I would say.
I would tell him that life is not a well-cushioned straight path. Instead, it will be an undulating road with some tricky bends along the way. He will fall, he will get hurt, and sometimes, it can hurt real bad.
I also want to tell him that we do not want to be protective parents that shield him from pains of life (unless it’s going to be detrimental to his well-being), because they are necessary to make him wiser and stronger. But, we will be there for him, not to try to fix things, but to offer guidance and support as he overcomes the obstacles.
I want him to know that I have faith in him to be an overcomer, that he is stronger than he thinks, and hold on to faith, for God will always there for him.
I hope that he will be a resilient child who will have in him the tenacity to keep trying, creativity to explore new options in overcoming challenges and strength of heart to take things in his stride.
I, too, hope that we will be able to model for him the right attitude in dealing with life’s challenges and inculcate in him a positive mindset and a realistic optimism that will enable him to bounce back from setbacks.
That’s what I’ve been trying to do, to look at the positive side of things and to deal with the circumstances with strength and faith.
It hasn’t been easy. There were many times I was tempted to ask “Why me?”, “Why did this happen?” but I know it won’t help. Such questions will only leave me feeling frustrated, knowing that I’ll never find a good enough answer that satisfies. So instead, I ask, “How can I cope better?” and “How can I turn this into a positive experience?”
That change of mindset helped. I also started counting my blessings a lot; there’s really so much we can be thankful for.
My husband has also been supportive and understanding. He tries to help out in whatever ways he could, such as spending time with our son, so that I can have some space of my own.
As a family, we are also heading to the parks and gardens more; I find nature such a comforting balm.
I’m still going through the situation now, but I’m so much more at peace and centred.
There are things in life for which we will never find an answer to but I will hold on to my faith and believe that God allowed things to happen for a good reason and in His time, it will all turn out beautiful.
How do you cope with personal challenges without affecting your kids?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Ruth Wong from Singapore. She’s a work-at-home-mom who also blogs at The Mommy Cafe.
Photo credit to thepathtraveler, freedigitalphotos.net
Definitely not an easy thing to juggle! Usually I blog or paint to relax. Hope everything’s ok now!
Thanks Madeline, I’m coping better now!
Such a heartfelt post, Ruth. We always want to protect our children but like you, I agree not to bubble wrap our children. They sense when things are not right, they’re that sensitive to our feelings/moods. I saw this firsthand when I went through my divorce. I try to be strong but sometimes I had my ‘moments’ where my tears were too obvious to him and he knows something’s not right. It was a hard time but we pulled through and our bonds has been stronger than ever. Now, if something is bothering me I take it out on my workout lol it helps and put me in a better mood. Sending you a big big hug, my friend.
Thanks Maureen for the hug! Yes, kids can be so sensitive, so though I fought back the tears, my negative feelings showed up in other ways and he sensed it. I didn’t think of “taking it out” on some workouts 🙂 This gives me a good reason to head to the gym again or just simply to start exercising.
I’m sorry things have been rough, I hope they will get better for you soon.
I like to think that when the time comes, when rough times hit either myself or my son, that we can take that as a teachable moment. That he will learn that sometimes, we have to take hits. But we can recover from it, learn from it, turn it into experience.
I’m feeling better, thanks Alison 🙂
I do want to turn this into a positive learning experience, I’m trying to think how.
Ruth, I just hope things get better soon for you.
As for your question, I think there isn’t a way of overcoming your personal challenges without affecting the loved once, the people that live with you and care about you. No matter how young the child is, he/she will sense that something is not right.
Thanks, Mom Photographer!
Your comment just got me thinking, while I didn’t want to affect my family, but that’s what family is about isn’t it – that what we experience will affect them in some ways and because of that, we share special bonds with one another. That said, I would like to minimise any negative impact on the little one.
I told my psychiatrist that I was afraid to cry in front of my baby son because I didn’t want him to think that HE was making me sad. And she replied
“Do you want him to believe that he is the only person who ever cries?”
Watching us handle emotions is part of the learning process. Children watch us cleaning the house, answering the phone, cooking dinner, and they imitate all of it. So, how do we want them to imitate us when it comes to having emotions? Do we want them to learn that emotions should be hidden? Or do we want to show them how to handle negative emotions when they arrive?
Studies show that children who have watched the entirety of a parental argument actually do better than children whose parents stop arguments and finish them later, when the kids are in bed. That is because watching the parents resolve the disagreement and make up is a vital part of learning how to get along.
It’s okay if your son sees you being sad, and see you working through tough times. Some day, this sort of thing may happen to him, and the important thing is to show him that yes, bad things happen and it’s okay to be upset, but it is also possible to work through it. Showing him the whole process might actually be a gift to him.
IfByYes… your comment was incredibly helpful.
I also feel the same way about crying in front of my child. There were times when I did and I felt so guilty and agonised over what must be going through his little mind (because he wasn’t old enough for me to explain the situation to him) and wondering if I had somehow left a negative impact.
I’m not sure I always demonstrated the best example of handling the situation or emotion. But if it ever has to happen, I’ll keep some of your pointers in mind.
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much, If by yes, for sharing! Really great food for thought, especially the part about how it might actually be better for kids to watch parents argue and then resolve their disagreement then to finish it later away from the kids. I think many of us tend to do that but I see the wisdom in what you’ve shared. I’ll try to remember that if I ever argue with my husband in front of our son again.
I hope things have settled for you now.
I think it’s really important that children experience the ups and downs of life, with our support. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing that you lost your temper with your son: no adult relationships are perfectly attuned, learning to manage the rupture and repair of a normal relationship while he’s a child will set him up to be resilient and understanding in his relationships as an adult.