A Mama’s Internal Battle
No matter how well rehearsed a mother may be in parenting approaches, there will always be scenarios no book on parenting will ever fill you in on. There are some aspects of parenting that you will only learn after it comes and hits you in the face. One of these parenting phenomena that I have become familiar with through experience is what I have playfully termed as the rise of Impulsive Mama vs. Rational Mama.
It is the moment when your internal Mama Bear battles with the unbiased Mama. It is when a mother struggles to deafen the screams of her impulse while fighting to cheer on her logic and reasoning. The moment when the mother your child needs you to be is threatened by the mother you want to be, and it happens every time you witness another child wrongfully snatch a toy from your child. Whenever a child on a playground smacks your child upside the head. Whenever a child calls your child names.
Naturally, when your child is in danger, your Mama Bear instinct will immediately kick in. But what about the times your child isn’t in any physical danger at all. What if the imminent danger to your child is an internal one? And what if the outcome of the scenario was contingent on how you responded to the issue? What if you had to choose between immediate support or long-term satisfaction?
It’s interesting how first-time mothers tend to be more emotionally driven and respond more impulsively than the second or third time around. When my first-born was little, it took the life out of me to not react when other children would exclude him from a game, say something hurtful to him, or even manipulate him to get what they wanted from him. All I wanted to do was to shield him from all the evils of the world. But at the end of the day is our impulsivity going to help our children blossom or stunt their growth? There were two things that helped me to start thinking rationally rather than emotionally during such situations.
Firstly, by acting impulsively we may be Band-Aiding the situation for the time being by saving our child, rescuing them from the scenario and placing the blame on the other child. But by doing so we have denied our child from the tools to mend any future situations. The fact of the matter is, there will be many more situations and many more people that may cause friction in our child’s life as a kid or especially as an adult and we won’t always be there to save them.
Secondly, the other child in the scenario is, well, a child just as yours is; a child that makes mistakes and is learning, just as yours is. This is just as much a learning opportunity for them as it is for your child. Being mindful of both children changes our plan of action from an emotional one to a rational one. Rather than thinking, “How dare they do that to my child?” we may begin to embrace, “How can I help both of these children work through this so they can do it independently in the future?” Our approach to a particular scenario or any future scenarios becomes one of instilling problem-solving skills rather than defensive skills. By doing so, we are empowering our children to work through their problems rather than handicapping them.
That’s not to say we should not empathize or offer love to our children because we most definitely should. But our support should not be so much that it becomes a crutch for our children, without which they become immobile. As water is only good for a plant when it is given in the right amount, too little or even too much can cause its flowers to wilt. It is this balance we must master during our moments of internal battle so our impulse and rational become at one.