4 Ways to NOT Be a Jerk Mom

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It’s so easy to use jerk parenting when we get weary. Here are a few things that helped Michelle Hutchison get back on track.

If you’re anything like me, you might have started your kids’ breaks with visions of vacations and day camps dancing in your head. It all seemed so full of promise- weeks full of lazy mornings and impromptu adventures. But then…

“Get upstairs and get your clothes on, NOW!”

Uh yeah, that was me two weeks ago. All that unstructured bliss had soured, stripping me of my patience and my kids of what ever good sense they may have had. The preceding weeks of excitement of laughter had devolved into one giant ball of chaos.

Needless to say, I could not wait for school to start after a break.

And then it did. But you know what? The chaos didn’t stop. My weariness continued. My impatience lingered. I hollered and harassed, lectured and leered. And when none of it seemed to work, I looked around me and thought, “What am I doing wrong?!” Then one day, it totally hit me.

I was being a jerk mom.

I was answering frustration with frustration, rudeness with rudeness. Not to mention, I’d broken just about every parenting guideline I held to. While our kids are always going to color outside of the lines a little bit (okay a lot), I realized that I was not showing my kids where the lines were. They’d lost their coach, their cheerleader, their role model in the hot mess of a mom I was allowing myself to be.

It’s so easy to use jerk parenting when we get weary. While I am by no means a parenting expert, here are a few things that helped me get back on track:

Punishment or learning experience? I had to get back into the habit of asking myself, “does my child need punishment or correction?” Most of the time, I found I was punishing my children when they really needed re-teaching. Grace-filled correction more often involves calm reiteration, explanation, and modeling. No easy feat when you’re faced with an all out temper tantrum! By all means, use natural consequences when needed- but if you’re prone to punish like I was, attempt to teach first.

Give them the words. When my kids are being disrespectful, I have to remember that sometimes, they don’t realize that there is a better way to share their feelings (especially my preschooler). Ask them to repeat the words and tone that you’d rather they use so they get in the habit of expressing themselves properly. Continue to calmly reiterate your position and don’t get sucked in by the whining- after all, you’re in charge!

Coach- instead of lecturing. When my kids are making bad choices, I’m wired to point it out and tell them the answers instead of letting them search for the truth we are continually planting in their hearts. I’ve learned to ask them if they thought they made a good choice or a bad choice. Afterwards, we’ll talk about what to do next time to make a good choice. Remember, lecturing is when you do all the talking- coaching involves Q & A.

Model Forgiveness. Discipline involves correction, not only of the behavior but of the heart. Even though we might do our best to tell our kids we love them, acting out is so often the avenue our kids choose when they are afraid of losing our love. The reassurance of “I love you, no matter what” not only brings healing to the parent/child relationship but also teaches our kids the true nature of God’s grace.

Written by Michelle Hutchison

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