How to Avoid a Parenting Failure
I’ve been in the business of family for nearly 15 years. I began babysitting at the ripe age of 14 in the deep, deep south. I’ll be 28 soon and over the years I have had the pleasure (and some pain) of working with hundreds of families in many different ways. I’ve been a nanny, an overnight caretaker, an infant teacher, a toddler teacher, a Child Developmental Specialist for Early Intervention, a behavioral therapist, an in-home therapist, a curriculum specialist, the Director of a Newborn and Infant Program, an in-school aid, an appointed family advocate for families going through diagnosis, a doula, and finally a Maternity Concierge. I have seen some families, yal.
As I’ve been able to watch these families grow and transition, I have been able to identify characteristics that will make or break a family’s success. Now obviously, it’s never too late to change and sometimes people surprise us. There’s no 0ne-size-fits all or a magic pill that will make parenting easy, but there is one identifying factor that will cause you to be a parenting failure every single time, without fail.
Yep, it’s that simple. Mastering your mindset is not easy, but it is a simple answer. The minute that you begin to give-in to those voices in your head telling you all the things that could possibly go wrong, you are giving over control to your mind.
So many things can throw kinks in the chain on being a parent. Poor communication can be a showstopper, a difference in discipline styles can be challenging, and the stress that ripples into your home life from work can pose problems for your family. It will seem like you’re facing uphill battles around each corner sometimes. Other times you will be wondering if you are a human or a superhero. (spoiler alert: you’re a superhuman!)
In parenthood, your mindset will determine your success. I was blessed with two amazing role models growing up. My mom and dad taught me something as a young child that is now coming full circle as I get to watch them be parents from the eyes on an adult rather than a “child.” At 28 years old, I am beginning to realize that my parents are still experiencing firsts. They have never had a 28 year old, they’ve never had a child get married, they’ve never been grandparents… there’s a lot of firsts coming down the shoot to them and they’ve been parents for almost 30 years. They didn’t always have the answers when I was growing up and they didn’t always get everything right the first time.. what parent does?
Since you’ve never been here before, how can you expect yourself to have all the answers? Even for people who have been here before, they’ve never been here before with your baby, your partner, or your mental health. Since everyone brings a different equation to the table, it’s silly (and unhealthy) to compare your story to anyone else’s. With this, don’t allow others to compare your story to theirs. You have permission to gently remind them that their story is not your story and that’s okay.
Just as my parents didn’t always have the right answers the first time, you won’t either. That’s okay. The one thing that my parents never did was give up. No matter what came their way financially, mentally, physically, from society, from luck, or from my sister and I, those two never gave-up. Therefore, they never failed.
In parenthood, you will never be in total control. There will always be outside forces that impact you, opinions that offend you, and factors that are inevitably out of your control. However, you do have total control over the thoughts that you allow to permeate your mind. Reminding yourself that you are learning and that you deserve some wiggle room to learn this new skill is a great place to start. Grace for yourself is one of the greatest feats of parenting. It can also be helpful to remember that this is temporary-whether it be a phase of tantrums or having a hard conversation with your adult child—this, too, shall pass. This is an amazing list of “mindset shifts for parenthood” for the hair-pulling, lock yourself in the closet and scream into a pillow times. We’ve all been there. We’ll be waiting on the other side of that closet door with a hug when you’re ready.
So, to the mom of the newborn struggling to latch and wondering if you were cut out for mom life, you were made for this. To the mom of the potty-training, tiny dictator toddler, toddlerhood doesn’t last forever, you’ve got this. To the mom tirelessly teaching your six-year-old to process their emotions, thank you for caring about the mental health of our future generations, keep going. To the mom of the 12 year old being body-shamed, you have power to change your child’s entire future with how you react, react with love and body positivity. To the mom of the 16 year old who is having chats about sex and consent, the stickiest of conversations stay with them forever, don’t give up now. To every mom in the world, you are enough and they are watching. Your child will be a world-changer thanks to you! To my mom (and dad), thanks for using all the tools in your toolbox to be the best parent you knew to be. It was more than enough.
Now, you may be thinking that my parents have “made it.” Yes, their kids are grown, but they aren’t in the clear. They are simply entering a new “new phase” in their life. This is such a harmonious example of the circle of life. Remember, no matter where you go in life, you will always have firsts, so don’t get too hung up in the details. Rather, love that child fiercely and unconditionally, and you cannot fail.