I don’t know about you, but I have searched for this question after a meltdown from my kiddo, after a sleep-deprived night, and after enrolling my child in therapy as a therapist. Bad days pile up, and emotions can get the better of me sometimes. Wondering if I was the reason he struggled and if he would be better off with another mom.
You are not alone! It can feel like it, though, especially in the world where it feels like everyone is posting about perfect children and clean houses… meanwhile, your kid is having the 5th meltdown of the day, and you are wondering how many days in a row they can eat peanut butter and jelly without health ramifications.
You know you are not perfect, so I’m not going to say you have never made a mistake. I have made plenty of them, for sure! We will give four things for YOU to do when the question “Am I An Awful Parent?” runs through your brain to provide you with a direction that re-orients you back to the relationship with your kids in a healthy way.
1. Check Your Intentions
This step is an honest evaluation of motivations. Check-in with yourself about what your intentions are in parenting. Your parenting “manifesto” if you will. This manifesto could look like this:
“I want to raise my kids into responsible members of a community who show empathy and care.”
“I want my kids to know I love them and that making mistakes is okay.”
Write your own! I encourage all parents to do this when they are struggling because it gives them something to re-orient back to on difficult days. You get to evaluate what’s going on with, “Am I still working towards this goal?” You’d be surprised how many “bad days” can still be recovered and fit into this higher goal!
2. Identify Your Resources
As a parent, it is incredibly easy and common to feel alone and isolated in this parenting journey, especially if you feel awful. During a calm moment, assess the different resources available to you in your community. It may not always be family to help, but there are a variety of resources available. Look for physical resources (babysitting, housecleaning, practical support), emotional support (an online community or friends you can talk to,) or educational resources (local parenting support group, books, or professional blogs like this!) Don’t be afraid to utilize and lean on the resources available to you, no matter how large or small they or the problem may be.
3. Admit Fault When Necessary
Sometimes we make mistakes, and it’s essential to recognize them for what they are and know how to return from them. Even when we feel awful, and it hits our pride to think about apologizing to our kids, this is an essential part of parenting and healing the relationship from both directions. It models how an appropriate apology looks, sets an example for kids that people make mistakes and builds their trust that you will apologize when you do, as you will sometimes say or do the wrong thing. A healthy apology looks something like this:
“Earlier, mommy screamed at you when I was angry. I shouldn’t have done that, and I am sorry. I will work on taking deep breaths to stay calm next time. It’s never okay to scream at someone because we are mad.”
This is a fantastic tool because you will find that they also will start to apologize on their own for mistakes they make!
4. Re-Establish the Teamwork Mentality In the Family
Sometimes, that feeling of “awful” happens because distance grows between family members, and people get lost in the busyness of life, and we forget how we are supposed to be working together. If you are feeling tension or estranged, they are most likely feeling it too. Do not be afraid to sit down and talk with everyone about how disconnected things can get, but how important it is for everyone to work together as a team and discuss ideas about how that can be done. It may feel awkward at first, but regular conversations like this go a long way!
Are you struggling with feeling like you are an awful parent? Reach out to us today for a free consultation where we can help you get back on track with feeling supported and encouraged about what you are doing, even when it feels chaotic.