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The Realization That to Parent imperfectly is A Good Thing…
As I sat across from my son’s teacher, tears welling in my eyes I looked down at the paper in front of me two things were more evident than they’d ever been: My son’s academic struggle was not a phase, and I had to do something about it.
As a late teenage mother, I have spent more time concerned how my non-traditional parenting hurdles have impacted my children than I imagine my counterparts do.
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Are things harder for them because of my adolescent pregnancy?
What about the lack of stability they have experienced in our home? How is that affecting their brains? I have blamed my poor adult decisions for my son’s internal struggles. I have done this because blaming myself is more comfortable than what I should be doing.
If I blame me, I can excuse my boy’s shortcomings by saying they are a “product of their environment.” However, whom am I shielding with that point of view? Whom am I protecting from pain? Myself.
Sometimes it seems more natural to blame ourselves when our children struggle with something outside of typical childlike conundrum.
A learning difficulty or a self-esteem struggle must stem from our parenting somehow, right?
While this may be the case, the truth is that, even if it is, it does not matter right now.
What matters is how we teach or help our children learn to deal with whatever obstacles come their way.
Including our imperfect parenting.
I could spend countless hours telling my kids how sorry I am for my mistakes. I could cry to them how much I wish I could go back and get a do-over on their parenting so far. In fact, some nights after they are asleep I have done this. I’ve realized something; this feeling is normal, and I think it’s something more common among all parents than we realize.
Dwelling on it, however, or convincing myself that it’s the reason my child has anxiety or any other ailment does him a disservice.
One day our children are going to have a terrible day and still have to attend work.
A day is coming when they are required to be a supportive partner amidst disagreement with their future spouse. Someday my son may become a father, and he will need to forgive himself for making mistakes so that he can teach his child how to thrive despite it.
I am not advocating for more harsh or strict child rearing. I am giving myself and everyone a permission slip to set aside our parenting guilt long enough to teach our children how to be optimally functioning adults.
You cannot adequately advocate for your children if you are busy blaming yourself for their shortcomings. Blaming yourself for their failures doesn’t help them overcome them at all. It hinders them. (Read My Post on How to Embrace Failure and Start Your Life Over This Year!)
We must stop taking pity on our children for having to grow up while we were still growing up.
Let go of it for now. Our children will hold us accountable for our mistakes someday. After all, all adults go through a phase of realizing our parents are mere humans and not superheroes.
It’s ok Momma, we all Parent Imperfectly.
There is no way to tell how our mistakes will affect our children right now. Though we can definitely help them a lot more if we teach them things like empathy, and perseverance, and forgiveness. Resilience in the midst of adversity.
Teach them that the bullies they face in school will prepare them to deal with the bullies they will face as adults. Because we all know, there is a bully for every phase of our life.
Teach them that they can find ways to do things even if they don’t think similar to their peers. They can still achieve an A+ or a B or a C. They can run the fastest, or jump the highest they just have to work differently. (If your child is struggling in school before 2nd Grade you might want to read this!)
We must teach that it’s ok to ask for help when it’s needed and that it’s ok to need help.
No parent is perfect. None of us.
Build confidence in them by having faith in them. Let them teach you something and really listen and learn from them. Then watch as their eyes light up because they feel so smart to have shown their superhero something new.
There are ups and downs in parenting for everyone.
Focus on your ups for now. Do what you can with what you have and leave the rest for later.
Leave the guilt. Leave the wishing for a do-over. Say sorry once and put a “come back to later” on the list of mistakes you keep in your head that weighs on your heart.
Our children will become adults without our consent. Our job as a parent isn’t to be perfect, it’s to teach how to navigate life despite imperfection.
So live imperfectly and hone their strengths, and one day you will have an adult child who says “Thanks mom, for teaching me that making mistakes or struggling with anything wasn’t the final answer.”
They will, and they will have your imperfections to thank for that lesson.