Question for Bernie
I have a question about parenting. I am a single mother with a beautiful almost 3-year-old daughter. I have been spending the last six months trying to recover from my separation with her father. I have been working on forgiveness and self-love, as well as trying to create a career to support my daughter, and still maintain an income.
I feel as though I am not giving my daughter the time she needs with me. When I am trying to dedicate my time to her, I become agitated thinking about all the things I should be doing. When this agitation comes over me, sometimes lose my temper and raise my voice at her when she really doesn’t deserve it.
I love her with all of my heart, but I am so afraid of doing the wrong thing in raising her. I thought that maybe you might have some suggestions about more relaxed parenting.
Your daughter needs to know that you love her unconditionally and that your anger is about other things in your life and NOT about her. Keeping in mind that she is only 3-years-old, it is important to immediately recognize and stop these agitation-provoking thoughts from intruding on the time you have set aside just for your daughter. You cannot go into long explanations about the difference between your anger at other things in your life and being angry with her until she is older. When these unwanted thoughts occur, say firmly to yourself, “I will think about this later when my daughter is playing with her friends, taking a nap, or in bed for the night. Right now, I’m all hers.”
If you do find that these thoughts have strayed into your mind during time with your daughter, unintentionally manifesting as seeming to lose your temper and raise your voice at her, just hug her and apologize. Tell her she can help you be a better mom by forgiving you, and reassure her that you are not angry with her for anything at all.
Tell your daughter how much you love being with her and that when you are away from her, it is only because of other things in your life like going to work. Give her simple answers for any questions she has, and then keep reassuring her that she is the most important person in the world to you, and that you love her very, very much all of the time. Let her know that when you have to be away from her, you miss her very much and can’t wait to get home and be with her.
You are a good and loving parent—you recognized that the demands of your life, like having a job and dealing with your separation, do pose a risk to your relationship with your daughter when unresolved agitation they cause spills over into your communication with her. Now you have a plan to immediately recognize and stop those thoughts when they intrude on your time with your daughter.
No parent can be perfect, but if you have a plan like the one I am suggesting here, you can be more relaxed knowing that it is completely normal to “slip up” now and then. The key is to catch it and address it immediately with your child, apologizing and taking the opportunity to gently begin teaching her about behavior that comes from misdirected anger. By giving her a warm hug and saying, “I’m sorry, sweetheart—Mommy was thinking about something else—I’m not angry with you at all. I love you so much…being with you is my favorite time…” you can reassure yourself that she understands you are not angry with her.
I recommend that you read my book, LOVE, MAGIC AND MUDPIES, for more guidance on how to be more relaxed as a parent without giving up your important roles of vigilant protector and teacher, raising your child to be a confident and compassionate member of society. I know that you are well on your way because of your awareness that prompted you to reach out for guidance.
Question for Bernie
Things are moving fast for me at the moment! I have just been offered a job teaching bookbinding for handmade books in a primary school starting next week for three days. I said yes, though I know it will be a challenge, but I want to see if I can do it. I also want to start earning some of my own money so I feel more independent.
It’s the end of term so it is very busy anyway, and I’m suddenly feeling overwhelmed by the numbers of children I will have in class. I also need to sort out childcare for my daughter.
I keep telling myself it will be alright, but my worst fear is running out of time to prepare. That makes me worry—that the children will not be engaged in my project.
Another of my fears is that getting so stressed is not good for my bone marrow. I am writing to ask for any advice to help me keep my nerves under control over the next few days—and not become a grumpy old parsnip.
Thank you for listening.
Remember the answer that came in your dream—that “…you no longer need a horse, or anything else, to carry you forward in life. Your strength has grown so much as you have worked to understand how the mind affects the body that you can safely and surely rely upon yourself to create a fulfilling, happy life.”
Go ahead and let go of the reins. Live in the moment and you will find that worrying is impossible. When you live in the moment, you crowd out thoughts of the past and thoughts of the future. Your mind is focused. This is the key to eliminating anxiety from life.
It is great that you are letting your heart make up your mind which is what I tell everyone to do…stop over-thinking everything and take each day and live it to the fullest. You will be prepared enough, and stay open to the lessons you will learn from the experience.
The most important thing to remember is that you are alive and active, doing something you love. Your body will get that message and be healthier for it. Relax and enjoy this chance to teach—you can do it and you can enjoy it! Don’t allow any negative messages you got earlier in your life that led you to believe it was somehow “bad” to be happy. This is your life—it’s your time. Enjoy every moment of it!