I received a very important question from a single mom like myself that I felt compelled to answer. This mama asked for tips on how to be a “tough mom.”
First, let me start by recognizing and saying this to single moms – remember that raising kids is not easy. I don’t believe any parent should have to do it all on their own. So the fact that you are all alone, and you are here looking for answers, already makes you a tough mama!
Now, back to the question on being a tough mom. I feel that raising kids gets a bit more complicated than just simply being tough or weak. I have been both a “tough mom” and “weak mom,” and I have realized that each one creates a very different outcome. One makes your kids want to grow up, turn 18 and get the Hell away from you. The other one creates an entitled, ungrateful human being. So you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t! But not so much, you need to find a good balance.
Let me share with you a story about my son when he was growing up. One of my biggest fears was to raise a weak son. To combat this fear, I would try to take on the role of a father, and be as tough as I could to him. Then as the years went by, I would see him struggling in school. After seeing this, I’d turn into the weak mom, trying to make up for all the times I was trying to be tough. I was unconcsiously feeling sad because I couldn’t give my son the home I would have liked to provide him, I’d treat him as if he was different from other kids because he didn’t have what they had at his age.
But the truth is, moms, we all have a story, and we all go through tough times in life that are either unfair or unfortunate. What makes us tough is learning to fight our own battles. So parenting your kid out of fear or guilt, or attempting to fight their battles, only screams a very clear message to them – that they “are” different and they “are” less fortunate than other kids. So before anything,lets first start by getting rid of the ” single mom” guilt. You are not helping you or your kid in the end.
My first suggestion would be to view parenting from a different perspective and focus on being a “good parent.” You first have to determine what that looks like for you. Every person has their own unique perspective as to what “good parenting” should be and what it looks like.
Even though it is a good way to find other parents who have been through the same, and using their experiences as a guidance, the truth is we all understand love differenly; we all get motivated by different things. So, what might work for others might not work for your child.
Regardless of what your definition is for “good parenting,” figure out what is holding you back from achieving it. Is it consistency, discipline, guilt, or are you simply coming from a place of enforcing power instead of guidance?
You are the leader of your home, so when guiding and teaching, do it from a place of love like a good leader.
Love and Guidance
Have you ever had a boss that had no people skills? Instead of rallying the team, they just wanted to feel important by showing off their power. I have, and even though they might get what feeds their ego, the truth is enforcing power does no one any good. It is not until we come from a place of love and caring for others that people start to listen. Our kids are the same, and they want to feel cared and understood before they are told what to do.
Boundaries If you feel you haven’t been running your home the way you think you should, then don’t be afraid to set new boundaries. Not because you allowed something in the past means you are obligated to continue to allow it. In this case if you were dealing with a disrespectful teen, then don’t be afraid to set new boundaries as to what is acceptable going forward.
We all like options, and we all want to feel like our opinion matters, so I recommend giving your kid options. Instead of telling your kid what time a chore must be done, let them pick a reasonable time they can have their room clean. It puts the responsibility on them and you won’t end up being a “bad” mom. They choose the time, decide if they want to break the rules, and if they do, then comes the consequences. Sounds like real life!
If you take anything from this post, let it be consistency. Each situation requires a different approach from you. From a kid who refuses to go to bed on time, to playing video games all day or is being disrespectful – your punishment needs to be consistent. Trust me when I say this is one of my biggest struggles. But the more you practice it, the better you become at it.
Pick your battles
Determine what are the things that are deal breakers in your home, and the things that are not so serious. If everything your kid does makes you freak out and be “tough” on them, they’ll learn to stay away you. Learn to choose what needs enforcing and what things can get away with a warning.
Choose your words
Is it that your kids “never” listen to you? Or, are you frustrated and the truth is they sometimes do listen to you, just not in the way or time you want? Words are very powerful and they send a clear message to our kids. If you’re always yelling at them when they do something you don’t like, do you priase them when they actually do what you want? If you’re always yelling at them, why would they even try to do something you want. Try choosing your words better and praising them for doing what you ask and you might see a difference in their attitude.
Again, motherhood is hard, and raising kids into adults is not an easy task. So give yourself recognition for being already a tough mama!