Let’s all be honest. Parenting is full of opportunities for failure. Every parent fails at one time or another. Every parent–some more frequently than others–regrets their behavior or wishes they could take back their words. Every parent makes a choice or moves in a direction that ultimate-ly ends in them feeling like they’ve fallen flat on their face as a parent. As a sports mom, I did this over and over again.
Parenting is hard, full of emotions and misunderstandings and after a particularly diffi-cult conflict, moms and dads may feel like they were failures as a parent. I’ve been a parent for 33 years and I will tell you that I had a lot of face plants in those years. I said things I immediately regretted, and I’ve done things I hated myself for, especially when it had to do with my kids and their sports.
However, parenting face plants are not the problem. The problem is how parents deal with the inevitable failures that will come. Here are a few things I learned that helped me get back up from falling on my face and continue to parent with purpose and con-fidence.
Remember why you care so much.
If you didn’t love your child so ferociously, you most likely would not care so deeply about your parenting endeavors. Parents second guess themselves because they want the best for their children, and they want to see them grow up happy and safe.
So, give yourself a lot of credit: You love your kids, and you truly want the best for them. That’s why you care so much.
Parenting is a looooong conversation.
And when I say long, I mean at least 18 years long. One failure today is not going to necessarily negatively impact your child for life. The same goes for one good conversation.
Parents are often quick to beat themselves up when they make one mistake, but it’s important to take a bigger picture view.
Author Bonnie McClure from Psychcentral.com says it this way:
It can be very tempting to slide down the shame spiral of one moment and forget all the other lovely things you’re doing right. It is likely your mistakes are really far and few between compared to the positive memories you are making. It is just that successful moments can be harder to recall while in the throes of a mistake. But when considering the quality of any interpersonal relationship, one could not base this on a singular moment. Instead, we learn to develop trust in the other person as a whole and have respect for their values as they are demonstrated over many different interactions in many different contexts. I can believe and remind myself that my children will experience the good and the bad of my motherhood, with hopefully more success than mistakes.
Parents are the model.
As parenting expert Sue Atkins says, “There is no such thing as a perfect parent, so just be a real one.”
One of the best gifts you can give to your child is to show them how to forge through failure, how to learn from mistakes, and how to get back up after falling flat on your face. Your kids need to see you being real.
When you fail, make a mistake or end up in a parenting face plant, remember that you are not the only one learning a lesson; your kids are too. They are watching you when you get mad and say things, then later come back to apologize. They see you mistreat the clerk and then later tell them you’re sorry. They observe your poor choice and watch as you learn from the consequences of that choice.
You are modeling face plant recovery 101 to your kids every time you make a mistake. Your children need to see this; they need to know how to proceed when they do the same thing. This does not excuse parenting mistakes; however, it does give parents the motivation to handle face plants in a healing and healthy way.
You will feel like a failure because you love your kids so much but remember that your parenting is defined by 18+ years, not by one mistake and your children will be better prepared for life as they watch how you handle life’s face plants.
Janis Meredith is a family life coach who wants to help parents raise champions. You can find out more at rcfamilies.com.