I am in constant fear of messing up my children. How many times as adults do we hear ourselves blame our parents for our shortcomings? I can never be consistent because my parents never made me to stick to something. If my parents were more on top of my grades, I would probably have a better job right now. My parents never said I love you, so I just don’t know how to express my emotions. And the list goes on.
Every time I’m late to drop off my daughter at an event, and she asks me politely in the car, “Mom, aren’t we a little late?” I think: she’s on to me. She’s going to grow up disrespecting deadlines all because I was late to that princess spa birthday when she was eight years old. I have ruined her.
And then there are times that I think my kids would be better off with a more equipped mother. This usually comes to mind when planning one of their birthday parties. I spend all this time “pinning” decoration ideas, themed-recipes, and Instagram-worthy sweet tables. Only to find myself three days before the party calling Publix to see if they can make me a Superhero birthday cake. “Yes mam, just don’t forget to bring us the figurines,” responds the baker. Again, something I am not prepared for. My son really deserves one of those Pinterest moms, yet what he gets is more like an Amazon Prime mom.
Or those times when I realize my daughter is really good at gymnastics, but I have zero desire to be driving her around every afternoon to practice or traveling to middle-of-nowhere Florida every other weekend for a competition. She really could use one of those dedicated stage moms.
Ok, I know I’m being a little hard on myself, but it’s true: How often do we judge ourselves on not being the parent we think we should be? Should being the key word here.
This is the first lie we tell ourselves when judging our own parenting skills. There’s a big difference between the kind of parent we think we should be and the actual parent we are. And the first step in becoming a better parent is accepting the kind of species that we are when raising our little ones.
I am not a Pinterest mom or a stage mom. As my children begin to get older and have in an interest in crafting or some sort of skill, my hope is that they will be resourceful and motivated enough to find a way to nurture that part of them. Why? Because I am the mom who teaches my children to be resourceful, independent, and curious. Those are some of the traits I find important to instill in my children.
Could our children benefit from other styles of parenting? Absolutely. But we are kidding ourselves when we think we are completely responsible for influencing our child’s whole person. We give what we know to give, and that needs to be enough to give us ease.
Now, let’s be honest: we don’t only give the good things. The way I judge myself for not being “better” is also a trait I am at risk to passing on just as much as my ability to be resourceful. So while we focus on all these habits we want to pass on to our children, we rarely pay attention to the shadow side of our efforts. If we could be at peace with what we have to offer and have faith that the rest are things they will discover along the way, we are already being better parents.
In several religious beliefs, there is a clear copout for less-than-perfect parenting. Some believe that “God only gives us what we can handle.” So really, we’re already equipped to be the parents of these children. And our best should be good enough. Others believe that the soul actually chooses the parent. Well then, we get what we asked for, right?
All joking aside, we are the best parents for our children. And the parents we had were the best option for us, as well. Why? Because no matter if they were a “good” example or a “bad” example, they were part of what shaped us. As adults, if we have the proper self-awareness, we’ll know what to do with what we learned from our parents.
One thing I learned from being a child that turned into an adult is that adults are far from perfect. Just because they’re in charge of small people does not mean they are infallible or even capable. This is a thought I choose to pass on to my children.
When my daughter looks at me for the answers, holding on to every word I say, I remind her that I am not perfect. I tell her that I do the best I can, but that there will be times that her intuition tells her that what I’m saying or doing is not right. She knows not to call me out on it in the heat of the moment. (I’m not raising no dummy!) But it gives her a level of confidence in her own intuition and self, plus it equips her with the most important lesson of all: compassion.
We can teach our kids to have compassion not only for the world, but for their parents. Because, darn it, do we need it — from ourselves and our little ones. No parents, we are not perfect. But that’s okay. After all, isn’t that we try to teach our kids? That it is safe to make mistakes. To surround ourselves with people who love and understand us. To forgive. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty great legacy to leave behind.