Skip to the content

Parenting...Far from perfect, but still trying...blah-blah-blah

I was on a road trip with my 2 daughters last weekend.  They were arguing and fighting off and on, and I was getting frustrated.  I launched into some lecture about how they new better than that, and they should look for the good...blah-blah-blah (I know Dracula, you don't say blah blah blah).  In the middle of the blah-blah-blahing, I realized I was in the middle of doing some awesome Shame Parenting.

Shame Parenting...It has been called Toxic Parenting.  It is using shame and guilt to produce good behavior and has been linked with emotional problems, insecurity, AND addictions. I, of course, am the expert on shame parenting. My son Dallin says I can give one of the best guilt trips around...Egypt and back in 10 seconds or less.

I don't really know how to not Shame Parent.  I have been trying to do better since I first learned about this a few years ago, but it's like when you are driving in the deep snow.  Your car wants to stay in the tracks the car in front of you made, and it is really difficult to break free and make your own tracks.

I have read some articles on shame parenting from "experts," but none of them seem to really help.  My brother Daren Stegelmeier, shared the most helpful advice yet.

When he finds himself shaming his children, either in the act or afterwards, he:

  1. Stops!
  2. Apologizes!  ---as soon as he can.
  3. Explains he doesn't "want" to make them feel shame or guilt. He wants them to be able to make their own decisions, but he wants what is best for them.  He wants to give them direction and guidance, but doesn't want to make their decisions for them.

The vulnerability shown to his children allow them to connect and increases love. So many children believe their parents are perfect.  It is such a relief to them when they discover their parents aren't perfect, and they make mistakes just like them.

Other techniques I have used and found successful is looking for the underlying reason for the behavior.  Why did they do what they did.  Of course, you may want to ask them, "Why did you do that?"  DON'T EVER ASK THEM WHY!  You usually don't want to hear the answer to that question.  Ponder to yourself, though, why they might be "misbehaving."  Are they hungry or hangry?  Are they tired?  Do they feel left out?  Are they frustrated and they just want you to listen?  I try to identify and ask them if they are feeling angry or frustrated, or sad.  That way, you can help them recognize the feeling and work through the feeling without shaming them for feeling the feeling.

I read a talk from the LDS conference that really helped me see some different concepts in parenting, and it wasn't even about parenting!  The talk was about judgement and judging righteously (and not self-righteously).

A couple of cool ideas I got from the talk:

  1. President Joseph F. Smith taught, “If children are defiant and difficult to control, be patient with them until you can conquer by love, … and you can then [mold] their characters as you please.”’ Loving them when they are defiant seems like a big challenge.’ It is a big challenge, but possible, little by little, we can achieve love in the face of defiance.
  2. D&C 121:41-43 “teaches us to reprove ‘when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,’ not when moved upon by anger. The Holy Ghost and anger are incompatible…” Wow, definitely something I can improve on, not disciplining when I’m angry, but when I am prompted to by the Holy Ghost.
  3. ‘I like this variation of a quote attributed to Goethe: “The way you see [a child] is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is [who] they [will] become.” To remember a child’s true identity is a gift of foresight that divinely inspires…’ I have tried this and have found it to be very helpful in treating others differently. I imagine them as an adult, and imagine the amazing mother/father they will be. I see them being amazing in their career. This can really change the way you treat someone and can be a useful tool in any relationship you are struggling in.
Sounds easy, right?  But not really easy in practice.  What does this look like?  What do you do in the heat of the moment when they are coloring on the wall or throwing flour all over the floor?  LAUGH!
Most importantly, YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT NOW!  We will have time for that later.  For now, don't give up! Keep trying. Plead with the Lord for help.  When we trip and fall (Yes, I said when, not if, because we all trip up), ask for forgiveness, and try again.  Never, Never give up.


Picture credit:

About the author

TetonSage 1066 N Yellowstone Highway, Rexburg, ID 83440