Children are challenging. From infancy through the troubled teen years and beyond, there’s a lot of pressure that comes with parenthood. It’s normal to feel as if you’re in over your head at times. When you feel like you’re not doing the best job, here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. “Nothing worthwhile comes easy.”
You’re working on a lifelong, living and breathing project. Your child requires long-term effort for the best results. While it may feel like you’re not keeping up or unable to cope, remember that this is a marathon. A few bad parenting moments won’t cancel out the lifetime of love, support and care you give your child.
2. Use your feelings for good
If your child felt like a failure, what would you want them to do? How would you want them to feel about their experience? It’s ok to be upset. You’re allowed to feel out of control, helpless or sad. But take care of yourself. Give yourself some time to process your feelings of failure, then reset. You are not a failure even if something you’ve done has fallen short of expectation. Use your feelings to teach your child how to respond to failure. You’ll feel better, and you’ll have turned a negative situation into a positive learning experience.
3. The key is caring
The reason you feel as if you’re failing is because you care about your child. This makes you a great parent. There are many children who don’t have the love and attention that you give to your child each day. But because you care so much about your child, you’re being too hard on yourself. Remember that when you’re feeling down. Your child isn’t judging you the way you’re judging yourself. And even if you have messed up, children are resilient. Children are forgiving. Your child cares for you, too. In your child’s mind, you are perfect. Move forward in care and love.
4. You are the whole world
As a parent, you have a unique position of significance in your child’s life. From the early days, your child looks up to you as an example of how to feel and how to interact with the world. In your child’s eyes, you can do no wrong. Even as your child gets older, your child still looks to you for guidance. It can be tough during the teen years, but you are still your child’s safety net. As your child comes into adulthood, you may disagree with their decisions. You may feel like their behavior is reflective on your parenting. But what you need to remember is that your support means the world to them. And they still need you when they fall.
5. Breaks are important
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be tempting to press on and work through your feelings. But you may benefit more from taking a break. Take some time to focus on yourself. Give yourself permission to take a break from parenting. Whether that involves having someone watch your child or just waking up a little early to have some time to yourself, it’s important that you get some distance from your source of stress. By removing yourself from the situation, you’ll gain perspective. And you’ll come back feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next challenge.
6. It doesn’t have to be a “thing” – just make it your thing
We all feel pressure to keep up with others. But with social media, the pressure seems even more intense. Are you doing enough activities? Is your time at home spent in a meaningful, Facebook-approved way? Does your dinner look Instagrammable? We’ve all been there. But here’s a dirty little secret: your kids don’t care about social media influence. They care about spending time with you.
7. Accept the chaos
Your counter tops might be crunchy. You may fall asleep with dishes in the sink. But aside from life-threatening and immediate needs, there’s no chore that can’t wait until tomorrow. If you’ve had a bad day, if your kid has had a bad day, if you’ve all had a bad day, accept it. Take a deep breath. Be ok with what today has given you. And plan to tackle what you can tomorrow.
No parent is perfect. All parents struggle with feelings of inadequacy and second-guessing their decisions. Raising a child is a high-stakes, lifelong endeavor. Be kind to yourself when you feel you’ve failed. You are doing your best, and you are making an effort. Your child will benefit from your love. And you are not a failure.
You are strong.
And you are winning at this whole parenting thing.
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