Being a parent is hard. It’s simultaneously the most rewarding and thankless job on the planet. It’s a role we will have for the rest of our lives, and no matter what personal accomplishments we achieve in life, nothing else will ever be as important. If you’ve ever questioned your ability to perform effective parenting, we’re here to say that you are not alone. Here are a couple of common parenting experiences we all go through.
Am I too Strict or Easy Going?
This is a question we all ask ourselves at multiple points throughout our parenting experience. Part of being a parent is the constant sense of doubt and worry that you might be approaching discipline from the wrong angle. This stems from the overwhelming love we have for our children. We want to provide them with exactly the right circumstances in which they can thrive and be happy. Some of us feel that personal success will follow happiness, and others feel happiness will instead follow success. This consideration produces extremes of parents who feel they should never say “no” and other times it creates parents who are overly strict.
Like most things in life, what is usually required is moderation. Addressing bad behaviour with calm and understanding then directly reaffirming your relationship with your child using love and affection is almost always a good strategy. Don’t beat yourself up too much. Feeling guilty about your frustrated outbursts or occasionally letting bad behaviour slide can eat you up if you let it. Just forgive yourself and then apologize to your family. What’s more important is remaining strong and confident in your decisions so that you can always be the stalwart parent.
When in doubt just remember that parenting isn’t a dictatorship (for either side of the parent-child equation), it’s a constant balancing act of compromise and understanding.
Am I Making Mistakes at Every Turn?
Having the massively important responsibility of being a parent is a lot for anyone to bear on their shoulders. What hangs in the balance (it often feels like) is nothing less than the complete and total well-being and happiness of your child. Almost every parent feels as though their mistakes (and remember - to err is human), are doing irrevocable psychological damage to their child. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. No matter what you do, you will be the single largest influence on your child’s life. You are a fallible, vulnerable human being and you are going to make mistakes along the road of parenthood.
Think back to your own parents. It’s likely that your desire to make absolutely zero mistakes with your own kids stems from whatever influence your parents had on you. Sometimes this influence is mild, and sometimes it’s severe. We all have our own road to haul, and no two people’s experiences in life are the same. However, this desire we have to avoid the mistakes of our parents is a story as old as time. It’s impossible to avoid making mistakes. What you can have power over, instead, is examining your parenting with openness and honesty and admitting to when you have made a mistake.
There is no error that love and humility cannot overcome.
You are Not Alone
All of the anxieties and concerns you have over your parenting is completely normal. It’s to be expected when you consider how much we all love our kids. The more important something is to us, the more we desire to perform that role to perfection. Just remember that no one is perfect, mistakes will happen, and the challenges of parenting constantly evolve as your child grows. Some problems are forgotten as new ones crop up.
The most important thing you can do is perpetuate the virtues of kindness and compassion, and lead by example. Always look at yourself honestly and freely admit to yourself that you are capable of making mistakes. You might think that having to constantly improve yourself is an enormously taxing ordeal but just remember - that’s what your child does every day as they go through the very singular experience of growing up.