It almost seems inevitable that, as a parent, you feel as though you are failing your children. I am sure you often wonder where you fall on the proverbial scale of successful parenting. It is easy to fall into the trap of comparison and to attribute your child’s shortcomings onto yourself. I have personally spent countless moments pondering the ways that I can improve my parenting skills. For instance, am I feeding my children balanced meals? How can I sneak more vegetables into those meals? Should I make bedtime earlier? How do I effectively discipline with respect to my child’s personality? Or, even more existential, am I raising human beings who will be good and kind to others?
As parents, we embrace the pressures of parenting because we want the best for our children. The good news is that parenting does not have to be laden with self-blame, guilt, and regrets. Parenting success is relative. Moreover, it centers on how you, the parent, choose to relate to the challenges that surface. A self-inventory could be helpful in determining how well you think you are parenting. Some great questions to ask yourself to foster more awareness could be:
When I am frustrated with my child, what is truly upsetting me?
For example, your child was in trouble at school for misbehaving in class. You find yourself furious at him/her. A self-inventory would ask: Am I upset that my child got into trouble or am I upset because I consider my child’s behavior a reflection of me?
When I spend time with my child, am I present and enjoying the moment?
For example, you are reading a story book to your child before bed. Self-inventory would ask whether you are present and noticing the details of the moment or thinking about work emails to answer once your child goes to bed.
Parenting is not a competition.
Comparison is the enemy of progress. It also fuels self-doubt and generates insecurity. Children are individualistic. That means that in most instances, it is inaccurate to compare your child with another, or even their sibling. For example, comparing achievement of childhood milestones does not yield a healthy result. Moreover, it is inaccurate to compare your parenting skills with that of another parent. Circumstances and values vary per household. To use a parenting approach from a good friend or sibling may not be the best fit for your home or your children. It is important to gauge accordingly.
In other words, your child is watching you. As a parent, you are a role model in more ways than you know. Your child is gauging everything from how to react to adversity to how to treat others based off of you. It is a huge responsibility, yet a privilege, to shape such impressionable human beings. I always encourage my clients who are parents to simply, get in tune with who they are, be authentic, and be the best version of yourself. Your children are incredibly astute.
For questions relevant to parenting topics, please contact the Amy Wine Counseling Center at (832) 421-8714.