What does your child say about you? Judging ourselves through the lens of someone else, someone who knows our children, is part of parenting. And it is not one of the best parts.
When your child has a tantrum at the market do you worry what others will think? When you hear that your child misbehaved in school does it make your heart sink a little bit? Do you internalize it instead of realizing that kids make mistakes? I do, but I am trying to change that. In my mind, my children are a direct reflection of how I am doing as a parent.
With the massive job of raising children, we are forced to acknowledge that we are judged by others based on the actions of our kids. Ugh! We expect children to make mistakes. In fact, it is often the mistakes in life that cause us to learn the most. But do we give ourselves time to make parenting mistakes and learn from them? I think we are often too quick to say “I screwed up.” But we are all human.
The truth is that the baby did not arrive with a set of instructions. You can read books and articles. You can get at apps on your phone. You can talk to friends and family to get guidance, but each child is different. The rules change to fit each child and each family, they have to. As a result, we learn from every action. We have the ability to look at the life lesson embedded in the experience. But to be able to do this, you must be able to slow down and allow yourself to make mistakes too.
T.Berry Brazelton, one of my favorite pediatricians, once told me that one of there are unspoken reasons parents bring their children to the doctor. One of those reasons is to hear that they are doing a good job. And based on my own experiences, I know he is right. Who is going to stop and tell you that you are doing great? Much like our children, we need a little positive reinforcement to get the job done. I try to do this as much as I can.
Today I challenge you to allow yourself to make parenting mistakes and learn from them. If you yelled a bit too much this holiday weekend, don’t beat yourself up, forgive yourself. The second part of my challenge is to help someone else forgive themselves. When you see a friend, identify one thing they do as a parent that you find remarkable and tell them. And if you keep doing that, maybe we will all stop the blaming/shaming cycle of parenting and support each other when we need it most.
“Dwelling on past bad decisions you’ve made only allows those decisions to keep defining you. Forgive yourself and move on.” Mandy Hale