Of all the feelings someone can face, feeling like you're failing as a parent can be soul-crushing. Maybe you're just trying to do your best, and it still doesn't feel anywhere near enough, and you consider yourself to be a terrible mother or father. Maybe it seems like other parents are doing something you simply can't. Or maybe you're grappling with shame or regret about the parenting decisions you've made.
Steps for Managing Feelings of Parenting Failure
Do you feel like you're such a failure for how you've raised your children? Do you feel responsible for your child's mental health or emotional well-being? Do you find yourself comparing yourself to good parents who are seemingly different from you?
Most parents struggle with feeling like they've profoundly failed at parenting at some point. It's within our human nature to be critical of ourselves. However, even if you feel like you're a failed parent, there are steps you can take to improve your situation and build a meaningful relationship with your children.
Define What You Want to Change
If you have objectively identified certain errors, now is the time to think about how you want to move forward. Which parenting skills do you want to improve? What is in your control? Maybe you want to improve how you regulate anger or set boundaries with your adult children. Perhaps you want to focus on being more kind and gentle. Make concrete goals for yourself, and be willing to reevaluate progress along your journey.
Hold Yourself Accountable and Make Amends
It is never too late to tell someone that you're sorry. One of the best gifts a parent can provide their child is their integrity, and that can come in the form of an apology. Apologizing also models accountability, which is an important life skill for people of all ages. The most important takeaway is to avoid defensiveness or over-explaining why you made a choice.
Consider If You Have Warped Definitions of Failure as a Parent
Some parents negatively judge their kid's behavior because they disapprove of their life choices or parts of their personality. This often has to do with unrealistic expectations about how much influence you have over your child's development. While a parent is responsible for taking care of their child's well-being and modeling safety and love, you don't get to control their preferences or values.
Forgive Yourself For Your Own Mistakes
There is no perfect parent, and most people are simply trying their best to navigate various stressors, parenting struggles, and personality differences. Maybe you didn't have the most optimal life. circumstances. Perhaps you weren't sure how to handle specific nuances in your child's behavior. That doesn't make you a complete failure- it makes you a human being with complex needs and imperfections.
Remember Each Day Presents New Parenting Opportunity
It can be helpful to remember that you may still have time to nurture relationships with your children, no matter how old they are. Many parents experience ups and downs with their parenting journey, and not everyone has close relationships with their kids at all points. But it's never too late to change, and if your child sees you continuously putting forth your best intentions, they may be more inclined to trust and open up to you.
Get Your Own Therapy
Sometimes parents struggle to cope with various challenging behaviors because they're projecting their own issues or fears onto their children. This can be especially true if there is intergenerational trauma impacting your family. Seeking professional help can provide you with support, guidance, and tools as you navigate everyday life as a parent. It can also offer a nonjudgmental space where you can vent about your struggles without placing them on your family directly. There's a good chance you're not a terrible parent, but you may be an emotional person who needs compassion, self-care, and structure.
Focus On What Is Going Well
Instead of solely dwelling on the negative feelings or negative experiences, consider your parental successes. With that, pay attention to even the smallest shifts. For example, if you're getting into fewer power struggles, that may mean you're setting better boundaries or actively striving to do things differently in terms of your communication.
Support for Parents and Families Navigating Parenting With Adult Children
If you feel like a failure as a parent, you're not alone. But even if you feel like the worst mom or dad in the world, change is still possible. Feeling like a failure can act as a source of motivation to reconcile your past mistakes and make important changes for your future.
At Resurface Group, we offer a variety of professional support options for you and the whole family. We can help you be the best parent you want to be for your children.
Contact us today to learn more about our mental health options, including our new Resurface Connect, a virtual IOP intended to support people navigating issues like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.