I often find myself sitting opposite a couple in my office, listening to them confess their parental woes. I silently nod in agreement as they describe their deepest, darkest parenting secrets. Ironically, they aren’t that dark and they really don’t need to be secrets. Why? Because I have met that couple on the couch many times before. Yes, they have different names, but their pain and guilt are all very familiar.
As parents, we all struggle at times with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. We all have periods when we second guess ourselves.
That is normal. We are all human.
I yell and lose my cool
We all have bad days. We all wish, sometimes, that there was a rewind button. The trick is to learn from these moments – instead of drowning in a sea of guilt. Apologize to your children if you were out of line. That teaches them that no one is perfect and that we all make mistakes. It also shows them how to handle their own mistakes.
Everything – even your mistakes are teachable moments.
Analyze what made you lose your cool. Were you overtired? Did you start getting ready to leave too late? Were you trying to do too many things at once and felt overwhelmed?
Whatever the issue – learn from it, and make a new plan for next time.
Do you need to get ready earlier? Do you need to separate yourself to reset from time to time? Do you need to lower your expectations of what you can humanly accomplish in one day?
Mess up. Learn. New plan. Repeat.
We let them play on their electronics too long
It seems as thought parenting is bogged down with feelings of guilt. There is no right or wrong way to parent. This is your house and your family. Do what you feel is right for your children, and don’t let the judgement of others deter you from your own parenting style.
I was raised in the 70s with no seat belts, TV dinners, and kids roaming the neighborhood unsupervised until the street lights went on. I survived. It is not the childhood my children are getting, but I am pretty sure they aren’t going to die if they get a little extra screen time.
You know your children the best. You know what limits to set or not set for your family.
If you are ridden with guilt – then do something about it. If not – move on.
I cave and give them what they want when I am too tired to fight
Who hasn’t had a vulnerable moment when they couldn’t muster up the energy to win a battle their child was ready to fight?
We all have moments when we hit the wall and have nothing left to give.
Give yourself a break.
I let them sleep with us because I am too tired
I have heard this time and time again. Especially from parents who are trying hard to get their kids to sleep in their own bed. You are the weakest when you are tired. Sleep battles are the hardest battles to win. Hang in there.
I wish they didn’t give homework
Right?! Who hasn’t felt this way. With common core and the new ways schools are teaching – homework can make both kids and parents feel frustrated (and dumb)! Many parents have whispered their desire for no homework – and they are not alone!
I love my child, but I don’t like him right now
None of us is Mother Theresa – and frankly, I am sure she had her limits too! You are human. You are allowed to have days where you are not digging the latest and greatest phase your child is in. You are allowed to feel frustrated, irritated, and annoyed by your child. You can love your children – but not like them at any given moment. You are not going to go to parenting purgatory, I promise.
I don’t always enjoy parenting
Join the club. Parenting is a hard gig. There are unrealistic expectations for parents. It starts in pregnancy and gains momentum from there. Despite the fact that you have a growing human stretching your innards, you are meant to have a “glow.” I never glowed. I was green, but I never glowed.
From there we are bombarded with sound bites and cute little posts of successful parents soaking up the joys of parenting one Pinterest pin at a time. The reality is – parenting isn’t a Hallmark card. You are not meant to enjoy every second of every day. Losing sleep and your patience isn’t really that enjoyable – and that’s okay.
Parenting is probably the hardest challenge you will ever face. What other project lasts more than eighteen years, requires 12-17 hour work days, 7 days a week with no time off – and wants you to do it all pro-bono?
There will be mishaps, missteps, and misunderstandings. There will be frustrations and failures. But most importantly there will be messy love through it all.