Sorry if I’ve offended you by calling you “guys”. “Guys” has become a gender-neutral term in my lexicon. I guess it’s a rollover from my home life with all the guys…

A client of mine once told me that she’d read a ton of books and consulted with various experts, but that she was never able to implement their suggestions in the moments when she needed them most. She said, “Tosha, you have the HOW of parenting!”

I hope you enjoy Part I of my six-part series on the HOW of parenting our little guys. (There’s that “guy” again!)

Well, I really wish I had that magic pill – the one that calms you down when you’re frustrated and at the end of your rope…the one that channels all those parents you’ve seen keep their cool in “these types” of situations…the one that blocks all that emotional input from your not-so-rational brain so that your ability to see this moment as a brand new one and create a plan of action suited perfectly to it takes center stage. I really wish I had a pill.

Instead, what I’ll offer you is hope. Hope that will grow from knowing that caring for yourself in specific ways will allow you to keep your cool and respond well when you’re called to duty.

Step one in my HOW of parenting series is to stop pretending that everything’s alright when it’s not. In other words, share your struggles.

Isolation is the root of most of parenting’s evils. As we exist alone in our homes with our children, we believe the lies propagated by the media (and then by our own pretense) that parenting is easy and always loads of fun. We believe that we are the only parent who loses our temper and yells sometimes, or that our son is the only one who talks back. We feel ashamed. We don a smile in response to inquiries about how things are going for us, and answer, “Great!,” while inside the guilt about not knowing what to do with our kid who is hitting friends on playdates, and the exhaustion from staying up nights worrying eats away at us.

Let’s stop pretending! Parenting can be wonderful and joyous, but it is incredibly difficult and not always pretty. The next time someone asks how things are going, tell them a little bit of the truth. You might say something like, “Things are going pretty well, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how to help Johnny who’s been hitting his friends on playdates lately.”

When you share the truth, something amazing happens! People stop and listen. And now that you’ve put a big crack in that shell of pretense, they feel safe enough to share a little bit of where they’re struggling. This small connection is a seed that, if nurtured, can grow into a meaningful relationship, and together you will notice that you are not alone. That knowledge will create even more safety, allowing your emotions to calm and your thinking brain to come up with some ideas for how to address your challenge.

I challenge you to have a go at it this week. Share a small piece of the hard truth with someone, and see what happens. And then share your experience below. I’d love to hear!