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Worst. Parent. Ever.

shutterstock_182868605Every parent has had that feeling at one point or another.  It could be an error in judgment, a moment of frustration, a public spectacle, a comparison to other people’s kids… Lucky us, there are a ton of scenarios that can evoke feelings of anxiety, insecurity, self-doubt, and self-laceration.

What if you’re having those feelings with some regularity?  Here are ideas of what to do.

1)  Consider whether the feeling is confined to parenthood.

What I mean is, do you have a tendency to get down on yourself in multiple areas of life?  Do you have a perfectionist streak that’s interfering with your happiness?  Do you struggle with self-esteem and self-worth?

If the answer to these questions are yes, yes, and yes, it might be time to seek counseling to help you sort it out, rather than continue to beat yourself up.

2)  Consider whether you need to lower your standards.

Are you comparing yourself to an impossible ideal of parenthood?   Sometimes we imagine we know what goes on in other people’s homes and we idealize them.  The reality is, everyone is struggling in their own way.

Practice lowering your standards in an incremental yet significant way (for example, lower them by 20%.)  See if it alters your stress level.

3)  Consider your strengths as well as your weaknesses.

We all have our blind spots, and our deficits.  And we all have our competencies.  Do an honest evaluation of what yours are–what you want to continue to do, and what needs to change.

4)  Consider other people’s opinions.

If you have a co-parent, ask his/her opinion.  Ask your friends what they notice about your parenting.  Again, we all have blind spots, and learning what they are only makes you a better, more self-aware parent (and human being.)

5)  Consider yourself worthy of the job.

Even if you didn’t have the best parenting yourself, you are qualified to take this on.  You might need to seek out additional supports (parenting groups, therapy, self-help books, etc.)  You might need to lean more on others than you ever have before, because it really is true, that whole it-takes-a-village thing.

If you have a tendency to go it alone and think it’s a weakness to ask for help, it’s time to shift your thinking.  Reaching out is a sign of strength.

Also, while parenting is a rough job under the best of circumstances, you might not have the best.  Your child might have particular challenges (they might have developmental delays, temperamental issues, mental health problems) that you never anticipated.  You can help them most by helping yourself: by being self-aware, self-compassionate, and willing to seek out resources.

Frustrated parent image available from Shutterstock.</small>

Worst. Parent. Ever.

Holly Brown, LMFT

Holly Brown is a marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay area. She has a private practice in Alameda ( ). She is also a novelist ( Her latest is HOW FAR SHE'S COME, a workplace thriller which received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly: "This provocative tale will resonate with many in the era of the #MeToo movement."

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APA Reference
Brown, H. (2014). Worst. Parent. Ever.. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 21, 2019, from


Last updated: 13 Sep 2014
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