For a long time now, I’ve been guilty of wanting to be the perfect parent.
Full disclosure: I’ve failed.
Set yourself up for failure, and you will, indeed, find it. Trying to be a perfect parent is as pointless as trying to be a perfect spouse, friend, or employee. It’s not going to happen, yet we continue to expect ourselves to reach the unattainable ideal.
Is there a parent out there who doesn’t look back over the years and grimace with regret over bad parenting moves? Can anyone reflect on the past 15 years or so with certainty that every decision, every word, every action worked to the benefit of your children? Of course not, so why do we beat ourselves up over human error, best intentions, or loving our kids too much to see what was right in front of us?
Most of our mistakes come from our own backgrounds, our personalities, and our inherent weaknesses. We expect our kids to be like us (which would make them SO much easier to understand!) and when they’re not, we have no idea how to deal with them. Or, they ARE like us and similar tempers ignite arguments or shared stubbornness leads to face-offs. None of this makes us bad parents. It just makes us human beings, trying desperately to do a good job in the most important role we’ll every play.
We can’t do that, though, unless we let go of our past mistakes. There is not a single thing we can do about them. What’s done is done. We forgive ourselves our mistakes because we’re not so arrogant to believe that we are infallible. Most of us do the absolute best that we know how to do, and when we know more, we adjust accordingly. We may lament our past ignorance and we should definitely learn from it, but self-flagellation is not only unnecessary, but destructive.
Don’t waste any more time wishing you could change the way you parented in the past. Make the changes now, from this moment forward, and let yourself off the hook.
It’s okay. Move on.