Tackling Unrealistic Parenting Expectations

20 Apr 2016

My husband laughed when he heard that I wrote last week’s article, Keeping Your Cool When Cleaning For Pesach. “You wrote an article about keeping calm before Pesach!” he joked. I explained to him that although I am stressed before Pesach, I could be so, so much worse.

One of my clients wrote to me:

“I seem to remember you giving a talk or webinar about how to get your kids to help clean for Pesach. Do you have a recording of it that is easily accessible, or are you giving a similar talk this year? The method I used last year completely blew up in my face, and I was determined to do better this year. Any help?”

I sent her the link to the OU webinar from the last two years:

Getting Kids involved in the Holidays

Pesach: How to Raise Helpful and Respectful Children

I also added the following:

“Good luck! But just know that in most families we all fall apart and then we get back up again and then we fall apart again! It’s just that time of year! 

 Just stay strong and don’t beat yourself up if you lose it- we all need at least one Pesach tantrum before the holiday starts! I am not talking about the kids!”

Her reply was:

“Thank you sooo much! Just reading the articles is making me calmer.  Having a plan is half the battle.

 Have a chag kasher v’sameach!


P.S. Thanks for the permission to freak out.  It’s good to know that parents are allowed to be human.”

I think it is an important point. We are allowed to freak out, be stressed and nervous. We are not robots.

I often feel that when we read or are told stories of tzadikim and tzidkaniyot, who never raised their voice or never got angry, it can be counterproductive. We hold ourselves to this standard, which is not often realistic. It is better to recognize that you will get angry, that it is normal. Then find some techniques that will help you manage your anger.

Parenting is tough. Parenting before Pesach is an added challenge.

There is a lot to be done, and once the children are off from school, schedules are hard to maintain. That is hard for everyone. The fact is is we will find ourselves getting frustrated and then angry.

The fact is, it just does not feel good to be angry at our kids. In her book, “Love and Anger, the Parental Dilemma,” Nancy Samalin explains that we often are amazed at the angry feelings that are stirred up when raising our children.

She attributes it to unrealistic expectations that modern parents have. “Good parents just don’t angry. Therefore when I get angry I must be a bad parent. This just makes us feel inadequate and even more angry. The problem just becomes exacerbated.”

We need to realize that our anger is probably a result of the frustrations and annoyances that come along with raising kids. It is normal and understandable. We are not bad people because we get angry at our kids. We need to stop getting angry at yourself for getting angry. That will get you one step closer to gaining control of your temper.

Give yourself a break and then learn some techniques to control your anger that work for you. Preventative measures include: taking care of yourself, try to get a good night sleep, and eating right. In the heat of the moment, counting to ten, taking a break, going into your closet, screaming silently (it works!), getting some fresh air (even for a minute) or putting on some fun or relaxing music, are just a few tips that can help you get through the next few weeks!



The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.