For many families, the past year’s restrictions have meant more time to enjoy together. Many other families, however, have found “togetherness” devolving from enjoyable to unbearable. You may be among the crowd who can hardly bear the sight of their own children anymore, due to:
“Over-closeness” can happen in more ordinary times too, when life’s demands get overwhelming or everyone has the same week(s) off. If you’re ready to climb onto the roof just to get away from your family, here are a few better ideas for dealing with the situation.
Don’t Take Things Out on Your Kids
When hard-pressed by frustration, most people tend toward venting at the nearest target. You don’t have to be out-and-out abusive to hurt your loved ones: it’s almost as bad to verbally blast them for every mistake and delay. Sure, you have a lot to deal with, and it would be nice if your children would bend over backwards to make the rest of your life run smoothly: but they didn’t cause your other problems; they aren’t being deliberately imperfect to annoy you; and they’re probably stressed themselves from the larger situation. Plus, too much angry venting makes your frustration more painful and habitual.
Watch Out For False Guilt
The flip side of being unreasonably angry with your children is being unreasonably angry with yourself: hating yourself for being unable to meet all needs, run on perpetual motion, operate without error. Beating up on yourself will make any problem worse. Give yourself allowances for being human, and be as kind to yourself as you’d be to a friend in a similar situation.
The best way to prevent “you’re in my space” fights is to define that space before someone wanders into it. You don’t have to put social-distancing markers on your living room rug, but you should clarify your preferences on:
And do remember to ask your children about their own preferred boundaries—and to respect those boundaries.
Stay Open to Legitimate Concerns
A boundary-establishing conversation should include specifics on when interruptions are justified—and how you will make time for anything requiring serious discussion. Parents who snap, “Don’t bother me” at every “Mom?” teach their kids not to initiate any conversations—often with tragic consequences when the kids need advice and don’t know where to get it. Save time for yourself—that’s important—but never let it become more important than your children’s trust. Manage breaks and together time to maximize everyone’s well-being!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!