When Parenting Feels Like Construction Work

I used to think raising babies and toddlers and preschoolers was hard. Oh, those years are long and wild and most of all, tiring, but the upside is that they’re simpler. Most of the time, you feel like you’re working in a production line, going through the same motions (feed, change, sleep, repeat) every single day, but a lot of it is “mindless” work. (Until the tantrums start. Lol) Raising a tween, on the other hand … THAT. IS. HARD.

I wish I could go into details about what we’ve been going through, but the munchkin who has requested to not be mentioned on social media ever again would not approve, so I must respect his wishes. 🙂 Suffice it to say, I told hubby the other day that I am seriously considering dyeing my hair because my white hair is doubling by the week. Groan … mutter … sigh!

Even as I’m praying and struggling through these new challenges, I’m reminding myself that this is all normal. Kids are supposed to grow up, “find themselves”, and navigate that fine line between dependence and independence. During this time, however, bad attitudes, hurt feelings, and mistakes will happen. Words will be said and things will be done that we wish could be taken back and undone. Most of all, this parent-child relationship will be tested time and time again.

Sigh (again)!

I was reminded this week of a show my kids used to watch when they were much younger called Bob the Builder.

Image courtesy of flickr

If you’ve never seen it, it’s an animated show that features a fix-it guy named Bob and his whole crew of construction vehicles. One of the things that Bob always says is, “Can we fix it? Yes, we can!” I thought of Bob and this slogan because lately, I feel like there’s a lot of fixing going on in our house. Our parent-child bond keeps on being tested—and broken. But for every time it does, we can be like Bob and ask, “Can we fix it?” Yes, we can!

Repairing a relationship is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination. We can’t use tools, such as screwdrivers, hammers or nails, to put things back together. Hearts cannot be mended with tape or glue. But you know what we do have that is stronger and more effective than any fix-it gadget? Love.

I can hear you groan (or maybe that’s me!). Yup, unfortunately, there’s no easy fix for a broken relationship. But I do want to encourage all the parents out there who are in the early stages of parenting: You can make it easier for yourself now.

The one thing I’m thankful for is that hubby and I have fairly close relationships with our munchkins. Over the years, we’ve worked to build up mutual trust and respect and, thanks to hubby, a sense of fun. For the most part, we enjoy one another’s company and are sensitive to one another’s needs. Because of this closeness, whenever there’s a disconnect between us, we can feel it. It makes us so uncomfortable that we can’t go too long without wanting to reconnect with the other person. Because of the bond we’ve built (and continue to build upon), it’s easier and more natural for us to repair the bond when it breaks. And this, my friends, has been our saving grace during this crazy time.

So, this is the advice I give to all parents of young kids: Be sensitive to your child and his needs. Love him the way he needs to be loved. And a decade from now, your future self—and your child—will thank you for doing so.

This is a song I’ve been listening to on repeat, Imagine Dragons’ “Walking the Wire”. Even though it’s a love song, I think the lyrics are very applicable to parenting through the hard times.

We could turn around and we could give it up
But we’ll take what comes, take what comes
Oh, the storm is raging against us now
If you’re afraid of falling, then don’t look down
But we took the step, oh, we took the leap
And we’ll take what comes, take what comes

What helped you through your teen years? Are you a parent of pre-teens/teens? I’d love to hear your advice!

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