To the Parent Who Feels Like a Failure
It’s Okay to Not Have All the Answers
You haven’t been spending as much time with your kids as you’d like. You find yourself frustrated and yelling when things get too much. Your toddler is throwing tantrums. Your teen is talking back. All of these things can make even the most confident parent feel a very gut-wrenching emotion: mom guilt.
While you don’t have to be a mom to feel mom guilt (dads feel it, too), it’s a term that has been so openly used by moms that its meaning is almost universal.
Mom guilt is feeling like a failure—feeling like you’re failing your child—and is one of the most difficult feelings a parent can experience.
And if you’re feeling that way right now, the first thing to understand is that you are definitely not alone. Nor are you a failure as a parent.
There is nothing quite as rewarding and joyous as being a parent. There is also nothing that can be quite as frustrating and exhausting at times. Even though you know there are certainly more good days than bad days, it’s only human nature for those rough times to feel as though they are much bigger.
When you feel guilty, tired, and frustrated that you don’t have all the answers, take a moment to reflect on why you’re feeling this way.
More often than not you’ll find that it’s the lack of control over situations making you feel these emotions.
Rather than focusing on negative feelings, turn it around and put your focus on the things you can control. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Make time to do the things that make you happy as an individual rather than as a parent.
When you become a mother, father, or caregiver of a child, it’s natural to take on the role as your new identity. After all, being a parent is a life-changing experience and one that makes many rethink who they really believed they were prior to having children.
However, forgetting who you are as an individual can be detrimental to your mental health. Don’t forget that in addition to being a parent, you’re also your own person. Think about the hobbies or activities you used to do that brought you joy. Make time for them and make time for yourself.
2. Practice emotional self-control when family member emotions are running high.
When emotions are running wild in your family — whether it be moody teens or a grumpy youngster — remember that you are in total control of yourself at all times.
Although you can’t control what happens to you, you can control how you choose to react. This level of emotional self-control is something that requires practice on a daily basis. But if you put in the effort, you’ll find yourself feeling much more at peace and able to then help your kids or spouse effectively without throwing fuel on the emotional fire.
3. Find unique ways of including your children with your daily routines or self-care habits.
A common worry of parents is that they aren’t spending enough time with their kids. Remember that you don’t need to find extravagant ways to bond with your children and feel connected as a family. Sure, a trip to a theme park is a blast, but it’s often the quiet moments together that kids — and parents — really grow to cherish.
Look for ways you can include your children in your daily life and consider sharing your own self-care with them on occasion. You can go on a walk or hike. Read separately but in the company of one another. Work in your garden while your child plays on the lawn.
4. Be honest with your children and try problem-solving together rather than taking the reins.
Guilt happens when parents forget that they are only human. You won’t always have all of the answers nor is it even possible to know the solution to every problem. When you are confronted with a problem involving your kids, think about being honest and trying to problem-solve together.
As much as we know our children like the back of their hand, the older they get the more of their own person they become. While you may feel frustrated at their emotional outburst or laziness with cleaning their room, they may be going through their own frustrations with you.
Rather than seeing one another as a problem, open up your communication and confront the real problem together. You’ll be surprised at how even youngsters can offer creative solutions you haven’t even thought of.
5. Take a proactive approach to healthy habits and preventive care appointments.
Healthy bodies allow for healthy minds. Consuming a lot of sugar, caffeine, and simple carbohydrates can negatively impact emotions as much as the physical body. Work together with your family to focus meals and snacks around healthy, nutritious options with plenty of lean protein and raw fruits and vegetables.
Oral health is also incredibly important. Brush together as a family and try to book your family’s preventive care appointments ahead of time. Adults and kids should be seeing their dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. Kids around the age of seven should also see an orthodontist for an evaluation.
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