When You Feel Like You Have Failed as a Parent
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Do you feel like you have failed as a parent? I understand.
If you are reading this, you are probably upset about some fails you have had as a parent. It can be a painful process as we are far from perfect when on the parenting journey.
We feel guilty when we fail. Maybe even have a little shame. Mom guilt, anyone? So what do you do when this happens?
In this post, I am going to talk about how it feels when you have failed as a parent, and how to work through it.
Most of all, I want to help you move away from the shame or mom guilt you may feel for not being perfect.
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When You Feel Like You Have Failed as a Parent
One of the worst things about being a parent is when your child goes 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. Come to find out, it was a fail. Big time.
Maybe your child lost friends because you moved, or he is not accepted at school. Perhaps your child didn’t make the sports team, or made a horrible choice and is in trouble.
The reasons are plentiful as to why your child is in pain. All you know is that you feel guilty or that you have failed 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?
How to Deal with Your Feelings of Failure
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, you are not a failure!
2. Deal with the Shame
Shame is evil. It will try to keep you down and not let you live your life. There are two types of shame. One type of shame is from real guilt, and the other kind is a misplaced shame that is, in fact, embarrassment or disappointment. Not guilt.
It is important to separate the two. Prayer, a counselor, friend, spouse, or minister might help you if you can’t decide what is real guilt and what is a false shame. If it is a false shame, then keep telling yourself the truth about the situation.
3. Apologies or Just Life
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.
Related: Should You Apologize to Your Child?
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. No one is to blame. There is nothing you can do but deal with the problem. Learn the difference between a real parenting fail and a difficult life situation.
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4. Work the Problem
After you have dealt with the shame and everyone has made amends, you need to work through your problem. 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. 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 doing 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.
5. 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 they have failed 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 helped you along the way. Pay it forward.
Dr. Dobson has great advice on parental 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 fell back into the loving arms of my Savior.
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 who is in control.
Here is 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?
Book on Family Estrangement from a Christian Point of View
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Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.
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