When Do You Stop Being a Parent?


No matter how much you love your child, this question would definitely have crossed your mind if you’ve been a parent for a few years. There will be days when your child drives you up-the-wall, round-the-bend, over-the-top crazy, and unbidden, the thought comes to your mind: “When can I get off this parenting rollercoaster? When can I be me again? When can I get my life back again?”

I’m sharing 3 stories by way of an answer.

A friend of mine has 2 children: a boy and a girl, who often scrap with each other. She is the kids’ first and last court of appeal, and they keep badgering her till they feel the other has got his / her comeuppance. My friend’s mother, who lives with the family, tries to restore peace. She does this for one reason only. In her words, “I love my daughter. Of course, I love my grandchildren too, but they trouble her so much, that I can’t bear to see her going through this nonsense for hours every day. I’m sure I’d be able to get them to stop, if only she’d allow me to spank them, but she doesn’t!”

This lady has an adult daughter who is herself a parent, but she still feels for my friend – her child. She hasn’t stopped being a parent.

***

On www.getorganizednow.com, a reader sent in an organizing idea. She wrote: “My handicapped son was in his wheelchair ready for the bus to arrive. I had his jacket on and tried to zip it up when the zipper pull broke off. Not having time to take the coat off and put another on, my husband asked for a plastic bag tie. He slipped it through the hole where the zipper pull had been pushed it in half way then twisted it to make a great temporary pull. I pulled the zipper up just as the bus arrived.

My husband and I are in our early 70’s. Our son is 57 and attends a day center for 5 hours every day. This is our respite time. We visit friends, shop, and sometimes we have lunch out. We have to be home every day at 2:45 to get our son off the bus.”

***

A friend who quit the corporate world to pursue his childhood passion for photography had his first solo exhibition recently. At the launch, I was speaking with his father. “What awesome photographs!” I said.

My friend’s dad who is in his 70s, replied, “Yes, he’s really good” – and stopped.

I was incredulous. “Good? He’s way better than good!”

The gentleman seemed to be struggling for words. Then, “You see, he’s my son, so I don’t want to say too much.”

“Why not? I have a daughter, and if I feel she’s doing a great job, I have no compunction saying so to anyone, including herself.”

“If that’s how you feel, let me tell you what I think. I am amazed, bowled over, and so, so proud to see his work. I always knew he was talented, but seeing his work exhibited like this – solo, at a gallery – has simply blown me away. And he’s following his heart, his passion – what more could a father ask?”

***

There are times – many times – when your children get on your nerves, and you wish you could get a break from them. But that’s really all you want – a little break, a breather.

You never stop being a parent – and that’s just the way you (and I!) like it. 🙂

Carefree Parenting has moved to a new home! Please visit http://carefreeparenting.com for all the articles, books and other material. See you soon. 🙂

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2 Comments on “When Do You Stop Being a Parent?”

  1. Sanjukta Chowdhury says:

    B is 9 months old. I am juggling full time motherhood with a full time job. Apart from my husband and in-laws! There are days, nights actually, when she stubbornly refuses to sleep. She will clap, sing, babble, smile at me.. Anything but sleep. These are especially those times when I have had a long and tiring day at work or at home and my arms are threatening to fall off their sockets, my back feels like it has been stabbed with a large knife and my eyes tend to close shut of their own. 🙂

    And she still stubbornly refuses to sleep, despite my cooing, rocking, rubbing her back, cradling, kissing, running my hands through her hair, And then after about 2 straight hours of doing all this, she still stays awake. I am so tempted to lose my patience at her and snap.. And I do. Just as soon as I do that, I am filled with guilt. Tremendous, terrible guilt. Let us just say, I have finally been able to get out of crying myself to sleep. Cursing myself for being a mother from hell. Everytime I promise I will not do that, and yet I do that.. Not often or frequently.. But it happens.

    Having said that, I love my daughter to death. Just calling her MY daughter gives me an immense sense of empowerment and the feeling of belongingness. As the cliche goes, I can not only take a bullet for her, I can put a bullet through someone’s head for hurting her.

    But, yes there are days when I, just for perhaps 5 hours of uniterrupted sleep, would like to switch off and shut up the mother in me. 🙂 That is all I ask for, as of now, in terms of reclaiming my life. 5 hours. Of sleep.

    Love,
    S

    • Hi S!

      You took me back to the days my daughter was little. 🙂 Here are some suggestions that might help:

      1. Can B’s nap time be shifted to earlier in the day so that she is sleepy earlier in the evening?

      2. Can you give her a warm bath about 30 mins or so before it is her bedtime?

      3. If she sleeps in the same room as you in her own crib/cot, you might like to try laying her in it and settling her in for the night, while you lie down yourself. Give her your hand to hold or play with, and switch off the light. When she finds there is no stimulus, she might quieten down and go to sleep herself. Of course, you won’t have the satisfaction of ‘putting her to sleep’ before you go to bed, but then that isn’t as big a deal as it’s made out to be! 🙂

      4. If she sleeps in the same bed with you, you might still want to try the above. Simply settle her in, lie down yourself, and switch off the light. Don’t respond to her murmurs and crooning, and she’ll quiet down. Unless she is wildly active, she won’t crawl off the bed in the dark!

      My book, “Have Happier Children – in 7 Days or Less!” has many other solutions you can implement, but unfortunately, it can’t be bought by Indians at the moment due to payment gateway problems. I’m working on it, and will let you know as soon as things are sorted out.

      In the meanwhile, all the best! And do write back to tell me if you tried any of these and whether or not they worked. You might also come up with something else yourself.

      Look forward to hearing from you (after you’ve grabbed some sleep 🙂 ),
      Vinita


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