The Myth of Getting it Right
I’ve been hearing from moms a lot that their biggest concern when it comes to being a mom is “getting it right.” This completely resonates and breaks my heart at the same time. We are SO hard on ourselves. Whether it’s the onslaught of media content and frightening news stories, or the comparison game of social media convincing us we’re not measuring up, there seems to be a general feeling that NONE of us are doing parenting “right.” Or even if we feel okay in handling of the day to day, there is a threat lurking around every corner that might do something to mess it all up. In doing some research for this post and see what was out there, I googled “How not to screw up your child.” Over 57 MILLION entries were returned. Just take a look at the top hits on Google:
SERIOUSLY? Even if we felt pretty good, seeing ANY of those article titles could send you into a tailspin of anxiety because they automatically imply that we are likely to do something wrong.
And you know what? We probably will. But not “wrong” in the true sense of the word…because there technically is no true RIGHT or perfect. We are human. We have emotions. We have anxieties. We have our own crap to deal with from work, or relationships, and sometimes we have less than ideal moments.
We are thrust into parenthood with very little (if any) training. It’s not taught in school, even with the classes that send you home with an egg or a flour sack for a week. There are millions or parenting books and yes, some people may read them in advance of becoming parents, but nothing truly prepares you. We might witness other parenting moments, or we might remember our own experiences as children that might inform how we intend to parent our kids, but until you are in the moment all bets are off.
There are over 1.37 BILLION search hits when you look up “parenting tips.” How can you possibly know what is “right” in the face of that much volume?
Ultimately, we have to follow our own instincts and when it comes to knowing what’s right for you, go with your gut. Inform yourself based on external inputs like your own upbringing, your friends and the people around you, and your own parenting beliefs. And just because you do something differently than someone else doesn’t make it wrong. As long as your kids are safe and supported, you’re winning.
I really struggle with the concept of getting parenting right, and I want moms to go easier on themselves. The less stressed we care about being perfect and handling every parenting moment with the right tactics or attitude, the better parents we will actually be. Work pressure, home management, romantic relationships, friendships, societal pressures…we need to try and release some of these and RELAX, so that we can be more present and positive for the munchkins we are raising.
In my opinion, if we can try and adopt or continue to practice some of these attributes, we will be on the right track.
- Patience. You knew this would be at the top of the list. Children are messy, noisy, don’t listen well, and can be completely exasperating, right? But they can be pretty wonderful, too. And hilarious. Patience is essential. Learning to take a deep breath and relax can help more than just your parenting skills.
- Supportive & Encouraging. Encouragement and support go hand-in-hand. Children with support typically grow up to be relaxed and comfortable. Without support, the world can be a scary place. Encourage them to trust themselves and be proud of their efforts.
- Flexibility. Many of your parenting attempts will fail. Be flexible enough to have multiple solutions up your sleeve. When one doesn’t work, you can always try something else. Plans are always changing, too. It helps if you can go with the flow and teach your kids to do the same. This has been huge for our structure-loving, schedule following little man.
- Consistency & Dependability. We all feel better when we know we can depend and rely on someone, right? So of course, kids feel safe when they can rely and depend on their parents. They need to know that we’re there for them. Be as consistent as possible when explaining rules and discussing (and implementing) consequences.
- Compassion. Children need to develop and experience compassion. Kids need understanding and comforting.
- Sense of humour. Your children will give you plenty of opportunities to laugh. Some even intentionally. It would be a shame to allow those moments to go to waste. You’ll keep your sanity if you have a great sense of humour.
- Self-awareness. Children aren’t sure how to act. It’s up to you to be a role model. You’ll find that kids react to situations in ways that mimic your reactions. They don’t know any other way. It’s important to be self-aware enough to know whether you’re being a good role model. On that note, make sure you are an example of taking care of yourself as well. They are always watching and will do what you do, and value what you value. Teach them to value their health.
Listen. Just be easier on yourself. There is no “right.” There is caring, loving, supportive and patient. There is providing a safe space for big feelings as they navigate their childhoods and teen years. There is doing the best you can. That’s what is right.
In a world with so many things to do, kids to manage and pandemics to worry about—just kidding, thank god there’s only one of those right now—let’s find one thing to count on that will help you focus on yourself when things are tough.
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