Those Defining Parenting Moments

Like many people, I mindlessly scroll through social media when I need a moment out of the real world. Recently, I saw a quote on my newsfeed about how children are a reflection of their parents. As a counselor who often specializes in working with mothers, and as a mother myself, I couldn’t help but be a little irked. I fully believe that children come with their own unique personalities. I also think a mother’s role has enough “mom guilt” built in. Do we really need to give mothers anything else to feel guilty about?

This quote came to mind again recently when for the second time during a meal at a restaurant, I calmly carried my too old to be melting down child out of the restaurant. I had a panic, “what if I run into a client; what would they think of me” moment. Was this really a reflection of me?

Outside of the restaurant, as I calmly used this moment to teach instead of punish, I noticed the eyes of the restaurant on me. I saw the judgment… No, I felt the judgement. What they didn’t know was this 4 year-old hadn’t had a meltdown in over a year and this was a complete anomaly. As he yelled and cried, we processed how to calm our bodies, discussed how big of a problem it was (spoiler small problem- his tortilla chip broke!), and asked what I could do to make him feel better- cue the hugs. There were no threats, no spankings, and no yelling on my end. We pushed through the meal, with a few more meltdowns, and of course judgement from the other patrons. I was feeling defeated at the end. How could me as a child counselor be in such a parenting low moment?

It wasn’t until this low moment passed that I almost understood this quote. My 4 year old came running to me and hugged me while yelling “I love you so much, mommy.” I saw gratitude in his eyes. When I asked what was wrong earlier he noted, “I was just hungry mommy!” I guess being hangry gets the best of all of us. While great parents sometimes have children with difficulties and negligent parents sometimes have resilient children that overcome, I realized the quote doesn’t mean that a child’s negative behavior is a reflection of you, but instead how you respond to those inevitable negative moments is the reflection. How often do we teach compassion and grace during those negative moments? Think about how frequently we excuse ourselves for our irritable behavior because we were hungry, tired, or stressed while at the same time punishing our children for the same excuses.

So moms (and dads) let’s put away the mom guilt. Our children are going to show a “poor reflection of us” at times. However, know that those moments are not what define you as a parent or your relationship with your child. It’s the moments that you decide to teach and to discipline with love that will transform both your relationship and your child, that will define you.

Written by: Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting