by Sheila Barak Graham
With God's help I am parenting my three teenage children while I work
as business manager and director of youth ministry at St. Peter's Catholic
Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. For the past 10 years I have worked in
youth ministry, developing a parish K-12 program.. I plan parenting
workshops and youth retreats to help the entire family in their pursuit of
faith education. My soul's present passion is to help prevent child
sexual/physical abuse through the VIRTUS program and parent education.
We are all on a mission from God; mine is MOM.. Mom to my own children,
Mom to my children's friends, Mom to the children I work with at my
parish, and Mom to any child I meet! I can't escape it, so I embrace it.
And now I share it.
If my kids tell me one more time to “chill out” I will scream.. Well,
maybe I have been doing too much screaming already. Maybe, but really,
how much is too much? When my throat is sore and my voice is hoarse? Way
before that actually.
When things are so hectic at every minute
and there is no time to sit back and take a deep breath, your insides can
build up into a frenzy and the least thing will cause it to explode. This
is not a good way to be a mom, but it seems to be the way things have been
going lately. I honestly don't remember my own parents exploding about
little things, but I think my childhood memories are washed in a soft rose
color with little or no problems in my life at home. Lucky for me.
Actually, lucky for my parents! I never had to calm them down. They were
pretty serene and seemed to take the parenting thing so well.
Still, I would never have told them to
“chill out” or “hang loose” or even “get real!” But maybe there are times
when we need to listen when our own kids say these things to us. Maybe
they see what we don't - that we are getting too busy, too stressed, too
caught up in thinking we need to be super-mom or super-dad and never make
mistakes and never be just average in our daily lives.
Maybe our kids are telling us in their
own way to relax and calm down. They may often feel that we take our
frustrations of a too hectic, too scheduled life out on them. Maybe we are
affecting their lives in ways that we don't realize. They may feel and
experience our tension and, sometimes, even our anger. Maybe we need to
“get real and get over it.”
Maybe the next time my kids tell me to “chill out,” I should stop, give
them each a hug and say, “You know, you are right!” Relax . . . and
remember that parenting can and should be a fun opportunity!
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