If you’ve ever:

…gotten a lump in your throat while you heard the heartbeat of your baby;
…unwrapped your newly swaddled baby, completely out of curiosity;
…held the feet of an infant to your lips;
…gotten tears on your baby’s head in the middle of the night while feeding him or her;
…been so tired you handed your spouse a sippy cup instead of a beer;
…researched the cure for croup, at 3 a.m.;
…picked a tiny nose with your pinky finger;
…stumbled over your words, as you explained something so very big to someone so very small;
…wished with all your might for moments forever lost in time,
…surprisingly realized there were tears on your cheeks;
…paced the halls of your home, mentally willing a fever to break;
…wondered how it was possible for a little person to eat so much;
…wondered how it was possible for a little person to eat so little;
…discussed growth spurts, cradle cap, and the colour, consistency and smell of poop;
…were surprised at how long his little legs were getting as you re-tucked him in, before retiring for the night;
…felt warm vomit down your back as you try to calm your frightened child;
…laid awake and wondered if you could have done something better;
…heard 18 excuses why he doesn’t want to go to bed;
…bought them new shoes despite the fact you’ve had yours for 3 years running;
…baked 32 cupcakes at 10:30 at night;
(after doing a milk run in your pajamas);
…filled out a field trip form, only to worry about all the things that could go wrong;
…volunteered for that field trip to put your own mind at ease;
…stayed by the window after allowing her to bike to the variety store;
…talked candidly about sex and drugs, all the while nursing knots in your tummy;
…felt your heart soar along with his when he saved the game;
…been mad at someone else’s kid for hurting your kid’s feelings;
…taught them how to cook a meal/do a load of laundry/long division/anything, and somehow not ripped your hair out;
…been more excited than ever for Christmas morning, just to see their faces;
…spoiled them rotten when you got a few extra bucks;
…made her favorite meal, just because;
…tusseled his hair, and pulled him back for a kiss and a hug when he squirmed away;
…laid awake at night and willed time to slow down;
…thought you’d never, ever feel love like this – so raw and powerful – leaving you so very vulnerable…
…then you’re doing it right.

Yelling at our Children – Succumbing to the Dark Side of the Force

Luke: Is the dark side stronger?
Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.
Luke: But how am I to know the good side from the bad?
Yoda: You will know… when you are calm, at peace, passive.


When our second baby was born, my eldest had not longed turned four.  Used to being, for those four long years, the apple of our eye, numero uno and the sole recipient of all our love and affection, he did not at all take kindly to being replaced, as he saw it, by this crying intruder.

We had primed him, we believed, before baby arrived.  Explaining to him how Mummy was having a little brother or sister and how Mummy would be very busy with the baby for a while, but it doesn’t mean that we love you any less.  It’s just that tiny babies take a lot of looking after.

It became apparent very quickly that whatever priming we had done had gone in one ear and out the other.  What four year old can process how things may change at some point in the future?  This kind of reasoning/thinking doesn’t register on their radar at all.  They are four after all and we should not expect more from them than they are able to give.

Fortunately for me, my mother and father stayed with us for the first few weeks after the birth and the responsibility of childcare of eldest fell on their capable shoulders.  They bore the brunt of the anger, tears and naughty behaviour.  Where was Mummy? Why can’t she play with me?  Why are you taking me to nursery?  I don’t like the way you cook dinner.  Why can’t I see Mamma!  Why!

It would break my heart to hear him yelling and crying.  I understood he was desperately unhappy at the huge change in our household and just wanted me back for himself.  Real feelings of wretchedness and guilt would wash over me; unable as I was to always go to him as I nursed our new baby.  In the first few weeks, I can remember cuddling him between feeds in the middle of the night as he slept and missing him so much.  I can only imagine how he missed me.  This was so different from the blissful, bonding guilt free feelings experienced with him as a baby.

Sal Severe, in his book ‘How To Behave So Your Pre-Schooler Will Too’ (more on this book later) uses the following analogy to illustrate how your child feels when their new sibling comes along.  I think it sums up the situation beautifully.

“Imagine that your husband or wife sits you down one day and happily explains that as she/he loves you so much, and as you are so wonderful, they have decided to have another wife/husband.  A while passes and you forget all about this and then suddenly one day a younger, cuter husband/wife arrives and stays!  Everybody ‘ahhs’ and ‘coos’ over them, almost always ignoring you.  Can you imagine how hurt, rejected, confused and angry you would feel?  This is how your child feels when you bring the new baby home.”  The lesson from this – don’t underestimate how this change is going to effect your other children.

When my parents all too soon left, I was then the usual recipient of his bad behaviour and I admit that I did not always handle this in the way I should have.  I very quickly found that I spent most of my time yelling at him.  How quickly things had changed and how quickly we were all becoming miserable.

I new this could not continue, I did not want to spend my life yelling and my children certainly didn’t want to be yelled at.  There had to be a better way to deal with all of this.  So between feeds and late at night I did some research on the internet.  After looking at several books, I purchased ‘How to behave so your preschooler will, too!’ by Sal Severe, Ph.D.  I knew that it was the way I was handling the situation that had to change, and this book appeared to address this concern.  I am so glad I purchased this book.  It addressed this concern and so much more.

The books stresses, that as parents, we must learn to control our anger if we want our children to be able to handle theirs.  With so much of parenting we all to often fall into the trap of ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  Children learn by example, and by allowing yourself to become angry and yelling, you are telling your children that it is ok to become angry and yell themselves.

I have found controlling my anger to be especially difficult when I am under the strain of lack of sleep and it is easy to forget that I must lead by example.  I am constantly reminded of the scene in ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ where Luke asks Yoda if the dark side of the force is stronger.  No Yoda replies, it is quicker, easier and more seductive.

And this is why we yell at our children, because it is often quicker to get results and it is easier than exerting our will, taking a deep breath and using more desirable techniques of behavioural control.  Yes, and yelling is very seductive because it makes us feel better by releasing all that tension and frustration that has built up inside us.

But like the dark side of the force, yelling is wrong.  It’s the wrong way to behave toward our kids.  It’s only by remaining calm, at peace, being passive that we can choose the right path.  Listen to Yoda.

May the force be with you.

© 2012 Simone L Woods

A little parenting advice can sometimes be very welcome…

Having a baby is a life changing event.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I focused entirely on the being pregnant and giving birth parts.  What happened after that I really wasn’t thinking about.  Sure, I had done the shopping, had all the baby clothes, the cute moses basket and matching blankets. But the fundamental fact that the baby would be born and then grow and grow, and continue to grow and actually wouldn’t be a baby for very long, seemed like a foreign concept as I blissfully awaited my delivery day.

Thank goodness my sister gave me some good advice.  A few weeks before the birth a letter arrived full of news but also containing a very important list.  A considered and thoughtful list detailing the things that she absolutely recommended I not be with out for those months after baby arrives home.  These recommendations she and her husband had discovered during their parenthood journeys with their three little ones.  I blessed them every day for months after our baby son arrived, as I luckily took their advice, and saved myself and my husband from a little of the worry and uncertainty all first time parents go through with their newborn.

So, when my friend announced she was pregnant for the first time – with twins, I thought that if anyone could do with a bit of tried and true advice she certainly could.  So I sat down and wrote an email to her with my list of things I would’nt be without as a first time, or next time around parent. I sent it off with the caveat – please regard or disregard as you wish.  But she received it with her usual grace and I believe her when she says that she found it useful!

So hear I am – passing it on.  That good advice will follow.  Hope you too find it useful.