Relax - You are only human! (When parenting goes wrong)
“When you fell out of your stroller (and I didn’t even realise it), I was HORRIFIED! I remember picking you up and holding you tight, sobbing at the thought of what could have been. You, on the other hand, were totally unphased! I was trying to be a good mum by reversing the stroller (thus pulling you behind me – downhill) to avoid the sun getting in your eyes. Strollers weren’t high tech as they are now – not even a harness!” – Author’s mother
The above anecdote is an example of how despite a parent’s best efforts to ensure their child’s safety and general well-being, things do and inevitably will go wrong at times. Whether you feel like you have ‘failed’ as a parent due to unforeseen circumstances, oversights or angry response to your child’s behaviour, this belief can leave you feeling defeated and questioning your ability to raise a young human effectively. Undoubtedly, most parents have experienced these emotions and have berated themselves for not being the perfect parent they long to be.
No doubt you wish for your child to love you unconditionally. Yelling at them when they have misbehaved or spoken in an inappropriate manner is not going to result in them resenting you. Sure, they may seem to dislike you in the short-term but an apology and a soothing hug go a long way. Typically, you will both forget the negative interaction in the wink of an eye. It is absolutely normal for a parent to get cranky, impatient, angry and frustrated with their child due to long working hours, lack of sleep, stress and so forth. Whilst your state of being should not be the reason for responding to your child in a way that only exacerbates the situation, saying sorry for your reaction to their behaviour (or in some cases, lashing out on them for no
warranted reason) and explaining the cause of it is imperative in helping them to believe that they are not a terrible person being and that you are ‘only human’ and care for them deeply. Furthermore, displaying self-awareness can help your child to understand that recognising one’s own weaknesses (and strengths) is a part of life that assists in nurturing relationships.
There is much discourse around being less hard on kids. It’s time that parents were less hard on themselves. Focusing on what you have done successfully to raise a child with positive attributes, noticing the positive moments you have with them on a daily basis, being present as often as you can, and communicating with your child is paramount to not falling into the trap of feeling like a failure of a parent every time you’re not what you consider to be a perfect one. ‘Losing it’ is a normal aspect of parenting and any altercations that you have with your child that are not ideal can be a learning opportunity for the two of you. Looking after yourself as well as your family is necessary in order to create a harmonious life. If you’re stressed, take some much-deserved time-out for yourself. A burnt-out mummy or daddy will not be in a good position to act calmly when things ‘go wrong’. A little bit of self-care goes a long way. Breathe and believe that overall, you are doing a wonderful job.