Feel like you're failing at parenting? Sit next to me!
Oct 13, 2018 | By: Ronette Parker, Mindful ABA
In my experience there are two types of parents. Those who show up on time (even early!) to school with their child, clothes and hair on point, bright eyed and smiling, talking about their latest trip to some exotic location, and ready to slay the day at work all the while having their children in extracurricular activities while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and perfect hygiene. Then there’s me. I’m usually showered, but still in yoga pants, no make-up and a hat to drop my little darling off right as the bell rings. By 5th grade (my daughters 5th grade year, not mine. I don’t even know how I survived 5th grade!) I’ve finally got the homework & chore routine down, but I find myself slipping in other areas.I not only work for myself, but two other companies, freelance for a few magazines, blog for my own website, and produce the Mindful ABA Education Library. My saving graces is I have an awesome partner and an amazing kiddo who is very rule driven and likes structure and they both love me to the moon and back again. And when I’m in the midst of my parenting/work frenzy I stop and look at them and see the genuine joy on their faces as they tell me a story about their day, or my little one builds a fort next to me while I’m working so she can be next to me but not interrupt. So why do I still feel like I’m failing at parenting most of the time?
Since the bulk of my 43 years has been spent around children and their parents I’ve been lucky enough to see a trend that has helped me deal with my own doubts about parenting. Parents want so much for their child, and even when you are giving exactly what they need sometimes the guilt over not giving them more is overwhelming. Ever being the behavioralist and researcher I started to break down some false beliefs I, and other parents, have had to see what is it in us that can make feeling good about our parenting so hard!
#1 “Stinkin Thinkin”
You may have heard this sometime in your life and can pretty much assume what it means. I’ve heard it multiple times from old timers in recovery when someone is feeling defeated. “Stinkin Thinkin” refers to our old pattern of thoughts and beliefs that sent us down a less than savory path in our lives. Those times when you went left when your gut clearly was telling you to go right? So why did we go right? Because there was something we wanted around that corner, albeit something that wasn’t good for us (ie a person, a drink, a drug, a career...you get the picture). A pattern of this type of thinking becomes a habit and what happens to our self-confidence and view of ourselves if we have a pattern of bad decision making? We feel bad about ourselves! Are you stuck in this pattern? What can you do to help create a new pattern, one that will foster a positiveimpact on your life? Then do that! If you don’t know ask someone, get help, seek counsel, read books on habits....whatever you need to do to give yourself a leg up on your old thinking!
#2 Past Guilt
Oh man, am I familiar with this one! After years of following my “Stinkin Thinkin” patterns I was a broken mess. But I got help, and continue to seek help when I find myself slipping into that rabbit hole. But guilt is cunning and finds ways to seep into areas in your psyche where the light is breaking through. I continuously have to remind myself that I wasn’t who I was 3 years ago. Hell, I’m not even who I was yesterday. And that’s ok, actually it’s great! I don’t want to be who I was because that would mean I’m not learning and growing. The flip side of that is if I don’t make the perfect decision at the right time I mentally beat myself up. Throughout my day I am reminding myself that I am a perfect, fallible human being who is continuously learning. What was done in the past is just that, in the past. Let’s leave it there.
#3 Our Insecurities
How many of us have had certain insecurities as a child and now project them onto our kiddos? When we are triggered by these insecurities, whether they be perceived of valid, we immediately go into protection mode for our children. But our issues aren’t theirs. By doing this not only are we handing over insecurities we haven’t been able to let go of and sharing them, we are putting doubt in them. Growing up and keeping your confidence is hard enough without your parents sharing their hang ups, so let’s just park the baggage at the door.
#4 The “Best Friend” Card
“Momma, your my best friend!” Um, unless your heart is a black hole who doesn’t love hearing that?! My ego soars when my daughter will tell me that, but then I have to do a reality check for us both. Yes, I love being her best friend. But my first job is to be her parent. And she needs to know that it’s not all unicorns farting rainbows when your parenting. It’s emotionally draining to have the responsibility of producing another human who is kind, caring, compassionate, respectful, responsible, and learning how to be an amazing grown up. Sometimes we just want them to like us and when your laying down the law with them there isn’t a lot of warm and cuddly feelings flying around. This goes for giving them too much freedom too. But if I don’t show her that I can bend but still be strong I am doing her an injustice. When we play the “best friend” card we end up giving them way too much freedom and doing too much for them. I know parents who’s children don’t have to follow through with chores because they make their parents feel so guilty about it. So what happens? The parents do it for them, essentially taking away their ability to learn how to take care of themselves and their property when they are older. I know a mother who still comes to her children’s homes to clean them, do laundry, etc weekly. Her children are 43 & 45 and are fully functioning humans who have the ability to do these things on their own, however she raised them not to so they don’t. I make it very clear to my daughter that if she is 43 and wanting me to come clean her house or do her laundry I have failed as a parent, and failure isn’t a color I wear so I keep modeling and helping her to become the type of woman who can take care of herself and her needs.
And there it is, the four main reasons I feel like I suck at parenting...only I don’t. And you don’t. We were gifted these amazing little beings to shape into our future and we are all doing the best we can with the skills we have. I believe in your parenting and mine. I believe we are raising a generation of children who will change the trajectory of our worlds climate and go beyond what we can even fathom. I believe in them because they show up everyday and do the next right thing and not because someone’s watching. Just for the simple fact that they are good people.