Alleviating the burden

by tamarjacobson

 Quote of the day:

Well, most days I feel like I have to to accomplish way more than any
person should or possibly can do in a single day

Thinking back to what my colleague reported a few days ago, I imagine that many parents feel the way she did before she experienced what she termed as: a mini meltdown. It made me wonder what I, as an early childhood educator, might do to alleviate the stress for parents of young children. 

For starters, I could stop judging them! Especially since I know that everyone parents differently. Mostly, we have learned how to parent from our families, three generations back. And all families are different. Their styles, experiences and biases vary from one to another. So, who am I to judge? Who says my family's way is the right way, anyway? 

Second, I could learn how to support and validate the adults who care for the children in my classroom. For, when I listen to them with an open heart and mind, they are able to trust me thus enabling them to feel safe, calm and, even proud of the way they parent their children. To this end, I might purchase boxes of tissues in case parents want – or need – to cry. Sometimes their lives are so busy, stressful and filled with impossible self-expectations that they just need to vent a little, or a shoulder to cry on. Hence the tissues! Dear early childhood educator – be sure to stock up on those, if you really care about supporting parents. Sometimes all they need is validation for some of the feelings that they might be ashamed of admitting to. 

I do so wonder why we are so hard on ourselves. Sometimes I hear a voice in my head that says things to me I would never dream of saying to anyone else: Self deprecating and insulting comments about how stupid, ugly, fat, lazy, irresponsible I am, and on and on. This morning, for example, I walked up to my study before the break of dawn. As I bent down to click on the switch of the coffee maker, I thought to myself, "Why did you eat so much last night, you fat thing!" It was a harsh thought – admonishing, and I felt my face tense up with dislike at me and what I had done. There wasn't a touch of kindness or understanding in the way I thought it. I looked up in the soft light of the lamp I had switched on. Oscar and Mimi were sitting upright on the carpet, looking at me hoping for a treat. Their little faces were sweet and welcoming and I smiled at them gently. Then I thought to myself, "Why couldn't I smile at me like that? Why couldn't I be more understanding and kinder to myself?" As a fellow writer termed it most recently, " …  my internal editor has been attacking non-stop …"

Indeed, we are our own harshest critics. But we must have learned this from someone, somewhere, in our earliest childhoods in order for it to rise up out of subconscious, and to stick so viciously, unrelentingly, unforgivingly over and over again.

Surely, there is a different, kinder way to guide our youngest children to fit in with our social norms, without those harsh criticisms that tear them down and leave them with those memories about themselves forever?