Parents make mistakes, too

Life is all about learning from our mistakes. After all, if we remember our own childhood, most of us probably have memories of our own parents reassuring us as children that it’s okay to make mistakes. Remember the old, “pick yourself up and try again” phrase? We’ve all heard it at some point or another.

However, when it comes to our own children and our own personal parenting journey, we tend to be so tough on ourselves!

Out of all the lessons and skills we can teach our kids, one of the biggest and most important things we can teach our children is that we are people, too.  We make mistakes.  We are not perfect.  We have good days and bad… You may notice from time to time that you aren’t perfect, you’re not in the place you had hoped to be, or perhaps you’re not the person you wished to become.  But really, what is perfect?  Who is the person you want to be?  Who is the parent you want to be?  Do any of us really have the answers?  Let’s remember that we are all human, and guess what?  Life happens!

As a parent, the bad news is that bad days will always exist, mistakes will always be made, and you will probably always blame yourself for not doing something just right, feeding your baby the wrong food, or sending your child to the wrong school at some point in your life…  There is no book or magic potion that keeps us on the right path to be a “perfect parent.”  Our lives are composed of connections and disconnections, mistakes, and corrections.

The good news is that life is a journey, and so is parenting.  Each step we make and each action we take are woven together and compose our individual being.  The even better news is, as we make mistakes, we learn.  We become better.  We become wiser.  We become people our children will always look up to.  We create lessons and memories our own children will learn from someday in their adult life.  Here are some reasons to reassure you why it is okay to make mistakes as a parent:

  1. Lesson learned!  Some of the greatest lessons in life are made from mistakes.
  2. Everyone else is doing it, right?  Well no, actually, everyone else is learning from the same mistake!  Life is all about trial and error.
  3. Parents are people, too.  In case you’ve forgotten, you’re not superhuman.  You’re a parent!
  4. Keep trying!  The great thing about making mistakes is they push you to move forward, problem solve, and be better.  Hopefully, you don’t give up.  Keep going!

Ever worry your mistakes are causing you to become frustrated?  Try to use these strategies:

  1. Notice your own moods.  Breathe deeply at least three times. Put the situation into perspective, think outside of the box.
  2. Remind yourself of your target destination. For instance, at this moment you’re tired and frustrated, but your end goals are to stay positively connected to your child and to model emotional regulation, because that helps your child to self-regulate — right now, and for the rest of his life. What’s your vision of your relationship with your child? Warm, close, with your child open to your guidance? Let all your steps take you towards that vision.
  3. Reconnect with your child. Sure, you want to teach her a lesson. But she can’t learn while she’s in fight, flight or freeze. She needs to reconnect with you to feel safe. Once you reconnect with compassion, and everyone’s settled down, she’ll be open to your guidance again. Feeling too angry to reconnect? Get whatever support you need to get yourself back on track. You’re the grown-up, so you have to be the one to step up and heal the disconnects.

Don’t worry about having been on the wrong path. Just start where you are, and figure out which direction you need to go in to get back on the right track!

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