Like most people my age, I still am using Facebook, and a friend posted one of those occasionally thought-provoking memes saying, “Give your best advice in four words or less.”
I am not really one to give advice. I have a good life, but no grand successes that people envy enough to ask for advice. Lately though, as I have tried to grow as a parent, I have had to learn to manage my emotions.
Without judging my parents, I did not have good role models for managing my emotions growing up. My mother could be hot-tempered, and my dad had little patience for things not going his way. My mother is deceased, my father has changed a lot, but I still feel I missed some critical lessons in emotional awareness and self-control growing up. I find that my deficiencies are in full view as a parent. My daughter can be annoying at times, but with practice, I have discovered that if I stop getting emotional, breathe to calm down, listen to what she is telling me both linguistically and emotionally, then I learn what makes her tick. What makes her upset, angry, and challenging.
It does not mean I can solve her difficulties, but I can react with calm, rather than dismissive annoyance or, worse, anger. And that makes me a little bit better as a parent.