By Gayla Grace
Considering the innumerable parenting books I’ve read and parenting workshops I’ve attended, I should be a perfect parent. I’m not. I’ve been a parent long enough, however, to realize that if I keep pressing forward and do the best job I can with a loving and sincere heart, my kids won’t be eternally scarred by my imperfections.
This year, instead of making resolutions about being a better parent, I decided to ponder a few resolutions on how to move past my imperfections and keep going on days I want to quit as a not-so-perfect parent.
So, this year I commit to …
1. Let go of the mommy guilt. We all experience it from time to time. We do too much for our kids one day and the next day we do too little. One day we give them too much slack and the next day we nag them incessantly. Our parenting choices never seem right. Or maybe our thinking isn’t right. Mommy guilt comes from the expectation that we need to be a perfect parent. News flash: a perfect mom doesn’t exist. We can choose to let go of unrealistic expectations that keep us bound to guilt when we don’t measure up.
2. Forgive myself when I fail. A defeated parent doesn’t parent effectively. When we barrage ourselves with negative self-talk over a poor parenting choice, we continue down a negative path. Forgiving ourselves for less-than-stellar parenting moments allows us to begin again with a renewed mind and fresh perspective for our parenting challenges.
3. Seek out support from other moms on hard days. My neighbor is a single parent with two school-aged children. She recognizes her need for help in juggling her responsibilities and seeks out other moms to assist with car pool or after school care when the demands of her work schedule become overwhelming. Fellow moms understand the struggles of busy moms and are usually happy to help when asked.
4. Listen to my heart on how to parent my child (instead of others’ opinions). It’s easy to run to the phone and ask our best friend what to do when we’re facing a difficult parenting moment, but if we step back and listen to our heart while considering our options, we make better decisions. Considering our child’s personality (which we know better than anyone) as part of the parenting equation allows us to tailor our parenting in a healthier light.
5. Take time to run, or quilt, or whatever activity works for me to re-group when the parenting strain takes over. It’s important to re-group and make time for self-care when we’re about to go off the parenting cliff. Balancing parenting demands with activities we can look forward and enjoy by ourselves or with others, creates a well-rounded parent who can more effectively handle the strains of parenting.
6. Remember that my kids love me, even on days I’m a not-so-perfect parent. Our kids don’t expect us to be perfect parents. If they know we are doing our best to care for them, emotionally and physically, they love us on our good days and our days that are not so good. I heard the reply of a young child recently when asked what he thought about his mom’s significant weight loss. His response? “I don’t see her any different – I love her either way ‘cuz she’s my mom.”
As you start a new year, do you have resolutions to consider as a not-so-perfect parent? Do you need a mindset do-over that includes room for imperfection and second chances as a parent? Perhaps that’s the ticket to success this year on your not-so-perfect parenting journey.
Gayla Grace has been a not-so-perfect mom and stepmom for more than 25 years with five children. She holds a master’s degree in psychology and counseling and loves to help parents and stepparents thrive in their relationships.