Have you heard of mom guilt? For me, it means feeling like you have failed as a parent in more than one way. It could be your kid accidentally falling off a chair, not passing a class, or deciding to not continue an extracurricular activity. I’m going to expand it and call it “Parent Guilt.” Many of us parents feel guilty for:
- Things that are kids do
- Things are kids don’t do
- Things we feel we did wrong.
- Things we feel we aren’t able to give our kids.
I’m not gonna lie to you. I have this feeling way more than I should, especially now that I have two young adults in the home who keep doing things that I am not the happiest about. I feel that at times I was too lenient, and then other times I was too harsh. I don’t understand the choices that my kids have made, and I blame myself. However, now I am starting to be more self-aware of the negative self-talk that I have been having, and I have decided that I am done.
My family, friends, and therapist have told me that I did the best that I could, and I am starting to finally believe them. I tried to do the best for my kids. I didn’t want them to feel like they were missing something because they didn’t have both parents fully participated in their lives, so I tried to compensate for that. I read tons of books, documentaries, blogs, anything that I could get my hands on. I went to parenting classes. When my daughter started running away instead of dealing with her mental health issues, I went to a parent support group that my county’s juvenile court was offering. If my kids were struggling in school, I quickly got tutors. I put them in extracurricular activities and fun summer camps. I made sure they were in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I really did try my best.
I did revolve my life around my kids, and that is something that no parent should do. We all wear different hats. We are daughters, sisters, mothers, friends, coworkers, etc. We need to have balance in our lives.
You will sometimes feel like a failure, but you really are doing the best you can. I wish there was a parenting manual that would make all of our kids successful and happy. But, there isn’t.
All we can do when our kids become young adults and start making their own decisions is to be there to listen and support them. Even if you don’t agree with a choice that they made, you have to let them deal with the consequences, and hopefully, they learn from it.
You can’t keep beating yourself up for something that you really tried your best. One thing I am telling myself is that they are still young. Who remembers when they were young? The majority of us will wince and remember the numerous mistakes that we made. I am now in my forties, and I feel I turned out, ok.
If your son doesn’t really care about school, and he isn’t really sure about what he wants to do, then you can just be supportive. He will get a full-time job and contribute to the household, but you won’t push him to go to school or anything that he won’t want to do. If your daughter keeps making mistakes, you just have to be there when she’s finally ready to get help.
Let’s all try our best in parenting these kids, but let’s go of the parent guilt that all of us feel at least a few times a week, maybe even more. If I ever find that parenting manual that will make sure our kids are successful and happy adults, then I will be sure to share it with you. But, I will tell you now that I don’t think I ever will. All we can do is be kind and supportive parents.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there. Please enjoy your day.