Do you feel like a failure as a parent? I understand. I have had my fair share of nights tossing and turning in bed, wondering if I was handling a situation correctly.
If you are reading this, you may feel the same way. It can be a painful process as we are far from perfect when on the parenting journey. In fact, we are sinners raising sinners.
Some days are messy. We lose patience and snap, ignore bad behavior, or overreact to a situation when, in fact, it wasn’t a big deal.
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Perhaps you are even feeling some shame for your mistakes. Mom guilt, anyone? So what do you do when this happens?
In this post, I am going to talk about when you experience failure as a parent (mom guilt), and what to do when this happens.
Table of Contents
What Is Mom Guilt?
Mom guilt is when you feel guilt, anxiety, or worry as a mother because you believe you are failing to meet expectations from your child or those around you who think you could do better. To be frank, you feel judged.
Not just judged by those around you, but also judged by your own inner voice that says you are not good enough. Sadly, you wonder if you are a good mom because your child is out of control, failing, or making bad choices.
The worst feeling is when you watch your child go through a really difficult time, and you feel you are partly to blame.
The problem is that you don’t know how you could have done things differently. In the end, you made the best choice possible at the time. Now that you look back, you realize it was a failure. Big time.
Perhaps your son lost friends because you moved, or he is not accepted at school due to your economic status. Maybe your daughter is acting out because you were too strict, or you worked too much and couldn’t be involved. Now she hates you because you didn’t do enough. Frankly, you had nothing else left to give.
The reasons are plentiful as to why your child is in pain. All you know is that you feel like a failure as a parent.
Maybe you even feel shame and regret that you couldn’t do more to mitigate the situation. Or you are experiencing shame because people are talking about your child.
So what do you do when this happens?
What to Do When You Feel Like a Failure As a Parent?
You have to get out of bed and live. I know this is simple, but if you and your child have had a bad time for a while…getting out of bed is actually huge.
It seems like it would be easier to hide and not deal with reality. But that option doesn’t help anyone.
You have responsibilities and people are still counting on you to get things done. Suit up and show up. And by the way, Satan is lying to you when you feel like a failure as a parent. Remember, God specifically gave you your child because you are enough.
2. Start praying
Get down on your knees and start interceding on behalf of your child. Pray for God to move in your situation and bring favor to your family even if you have made mistakes. Ask God to use it for His glory despite your failure as a parent.
I can’t tell you how many times I have felt knocked down by the enemy when it comes to parenting. Satan is after our kids, and he is getting to us through them. They are being attacked daily in all areas of their lives. The pressures they face are unprecedented.
Continue praying each day for God to give you wisdom on how to navigate your problems.
3. Work the Problem
Start dealing with your problem head-on. If your child is in trouble at school or with the law, then comply with the consequences.
Do everything you can to help your child learn from the mistake. This is where some parents get off-track.
They try to get their child out of the punishment. Don’t do this if the child is guilty! Make your child serve the consequences.
It is important for your child to pay the ticket, go to defensive driving, serve the detention, serve the suspension, or take the class over no matter how embarrassed you are. It will cost you more in the long run if the lesson is not learned early.
Whatever is the issue, see it through. Everyone can become better and learn from failure.
If your family needs counseling, make the time to do it. Communication between you and your child is crucial when there is a problem. Keep loving your child and do everything you can to shore up the relationship as you are untangling the problems. This phase may take a long time. It depends on the problem.
4. Deal with the Shame
Shame is evil. It will try to keep you down and not let you live your life. One type of shame is really just guilt, and the other kind is a misplaced shame that is, in fact, embarrassment or disappointment. Then there is the full-blown shame of not wanting to exist.
It is important to separate all three. Shame says,” I am bad.” Guilt says, ” I did something bad.” And embarrassment is a public emotion that can cause you to feel exposed, awkward, or concerned about what others think.
Hopefully, these definitions will help you decide what is real guilt, shame, or embarrassment.
I like to listen to motivational speakers when I feel discouraged. I love Priscilla Shirer, Joyce Meyers, or Beth Moore. All of them have had real-life struggles and give encouragement to move out of the worst kind of situation.
RELATED: The Ugly Truth About Shame and Guilt
5. Make Apologies
If you actually have made mistakes, it is important to go back to your child and apologize. Say what you have done wrong. Don’t say “If I have done anything wrong…” Instead, speak the exact offense. If you don’t know what you have done wrong, then ask.
It is important for your child to own her mistakes too. Bad behavior needs consequences and changes. Use this as an opportunity to build character.
You are both learning how to navigate difficult situations together.
Many times life is just hard and things happen. Your intentions were good, but you failed to communicate properly. There is nothing you can do but deal with the problem. Don’t stay stuck when you feel like a failure as a parent.
6. Help Others
If you have had a difficult parenting situation and you are through it now, then help others. Don’t let your pain go to waste.
There are many others who feel like a failure as a parent. The problem is that no one wants to talk about it. Once it is over we tend to close the door on that nasty chapter, never to talk about it again.
Keep your ears and heart open to listening to other moms or dads who are struggling with the same issue. If you can relate, then open up and share how you got through the problem. Chances are someone took the time to help you along the way.
Pay it forward.
Dr. Dobson has great advice on mom guilt. You can watch this short video to see how he says to handle it.
A Life of Faith
I don’t know what I would have done without my faith in God when my kids were growing up. When I felt like a failure as a parent, I ran into the loving arms of Jesus (still do).
When no one else understood, God did. He knew just the right way to bind the broken pieces and make things new again.
Just yesterday, one of my friends sent me Psalms 91 because she knew I was concerned about a situation. There is nothing like scripture (and godly friends) to help when you need some extra encouragement.
I will leave you with this chapter as it helped me so much. Thanks to my sweet friend for reminding me who is in control.
Psalm 91 Living Bible (TLB)
1 We live within the shadow of the Almighty, sheltered by the God who is above all gods.
2 This I declare, that He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I am trusting him. 3 For he rescues you from every trap and protects you from the fatal plague.
4 He will shield you with his wings! They will shelter you. His faithful promises are your armor. 5 Now you don’t need to be afraid of the dark anymore, nor fear the dangers of the day; 6 nor dread the plagues of darkness, nor disasters in the morning.
7 Though a thousand fall at my side, though ten thousand are dying around me, the evil will not touch me. 8 I will see how the wicked are punished, but I will not share it.
9 For Jehovah is my refuge! I choose God above all gods to shelter me. 10 How then can evil overtake me or any plague come near? 11 For he orders his angels to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will steady you with their hands to keep you from stumbling against the rocks on the trail. 13 You can safely meet a lion or step on poisonous snakes, yes, even trample them beneath your feet!
14 For the Lord says, “Because he loves me, I will rescue him; I will make him great because he trusts in my name. 15 When he calls on me, I will answer; I will be with him in trouble and rescue him and honor him.
16 I will satisfy him with a full life[b]and give him my salvation.”
What do you do when you feel like you have failed as a parent?
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