10 Things No One Will Tell You About Parenting Fails, But I Will
You don't have to search the internet for too long before you find one parent pointing fingers at another. Keyboards and computers have created seemingly "perfect" parents who dust off their pitchforks at the very hint of someone else's parental misstep. What many if not all of these particular parents care to acknowledge, though, is that none of us are immune to failure. Well, I'm here to burst their proverbial bubble. There are things no one will tell you about parenting fails, but I will, because just like I tell my toddler and soon-to-be toddler, "honesty is the best policy," and when you're a parent, honesty is what will help you realize that when you make a mistake or feel like giving up or worrying about not being "enough," you're not alone.
At some point, probably, we've all said smug things about parenting, probably before we became parents ourselves but even after we've successfully procreated and have been stuck in some "mommy war" scenario that us feel vulnerable and, therefore, combative. Most of us also, and eventually, realize that we were completely and utterly wrong to believe that a perfect parent, even existed, let alone was attainable or worth pretending to be. Still, there are some rebels out there who believe they've got all the secrets to success, and they aren't afraid to let us know it. The many reactions to the Disney gator attack on a toddler, for instance, are a sad reminder that some people still believe the "perfect" parent exists and, even worst, that they're it. Instead of offering sympathy and support, they rushed to judgment and ridicule. A family lost a son, but according to some of the parents in the comment sections of the story, it was "their own damn fault." Their words were harsh and ugly, not to mention unwarranted and despicable.
None of them stopped to consider for even a second, that that could have been their family. That could have been their child. That could have been their tragedy. It could have happened to any of us. The valor with which the perfect parents unleash their attacks online is disgusting. It's like they honestly believe that they never have, or never will, make a mistake. Well, I've got news for them, which includes the following:
Failure Is Inevitable
There is no possible way to raise another human being without making a misstep at some point. Seriously. None. Zero. Zilch. We all mess up at some point, no matter how much we prepare in advance or how vigilant we are. Life is unpredictable and failure happens. It just does.
You Will Mess Up More Times Than You Can Count
Yeah, so it's not just going to happen once. It's probably going to happen a lot. After my first son decided he hated vegetables, I swore to myself that my second son would never taste anything but a vegetable. My tune quickly changed, when he was pitching an epic public fit and I had to bribe him with cookies. Now, I've got two kids who turn their noses at anything green on their plate, and I am paying a very frustrating price for not being more vigilant with their nutrition.
Sometimes Your Failure Will Be Scary
My youngest son is a climber. He's fearless, and the world is his playground. We have wooden stairs in our house, that I usually block with a gate, but one day I got caught up in the chaos of toddlers and forgot to put the gate up. My son, who wasn't even a year old at the time, is an opportunist and before I even realized what was happening, he was half way up the stairs. He could have easily slipped and tumbled all the way down those hard stairs, potentially injuring himself badly. Thankfully, he didn't. He turned around and waved while I was sprinting up the stairs to grab him. He was fine, but something could have gone very, very wrong very, very quickly, and that is terrifying.
You Will Feel Judged
Even though we all make mistakes, sometimes our mistakes become obvious to others and, when that happens, it's hard not to feel like there's not a giant spotlight shining on your giant failure. Feeling judged is an incredibly unfortunate side effect of failing as a parent (and, honestly, as a human being). It could be something tiny and insignificant, or something more major, but either way, the relentless judgment of others makes mistakes feel that much worse.
You Will Feel Guilty
You will feel guilty every single time you mess up, even if it's not a big deal. I got behind on my kids' well-visits last fall, so neither of them got a flu shot. Having worked in the medical field for many years, I understand the importance of flu shots in small children. Their little immune systems aren't always strong enough to fight off infections, so what might be a minor illness for an adult can turn into something major for a child. Of course, one of my kids ended up getting the flu, and I blamed myself. It never got serious, but I knew that it had the potential to and I felt guilty every second of every day, until he was well.
You Will Eat Your Words
You will swear that your kids will never eat sweets, then, you'll bribe them with candy. You will swear that you'll never have "that kid" pitching a fit in public, then you will find yourself apologizing for your flailing child to perfect strangers. You will swear that you'll monitor your kids' screen time and never have the television on for longer than an hour, then you will allow that same television to babysit your kids when you just can't handle them anymore. We all think we're experts when it comes to parenting, but then we become parents and realize that, no, we don't know everything.
You Will Second Guess Yourself
When you mess up as a parent, you will start to second guess yourself. You will question whether or not what you're doing is healthy or harmful, and your confidence as a parent might start to sink. Parenting is hard, and at some point we all wonder if we know what the hell we're doing.
Some Fails Hurt More Than Others
I try not to yell at my kids, but I'm human. Sometimes I get too overwhelmed and I let my anger overtake my patience and, as a result, my frustration is directed at and taken out on my kids. I've yelled (I mean, really yelled) at them, for essentially just being and acting like children. Of course, it scared them and they started crying because they were frightened, and then I started crying because I scared them. Knowing that I made them afraid, broke my heart.
Failures Are Learning Opportunities
Although our parental mistakes might sting sometimes, they can always be used as a learning opportunity. I always heard about how different having my second baby would feel when compared to my first. People told me it would be easier in some aspects, because I had learned so much with my first son, and they were right. I hate that my first had to be, and essentially was, a guinea pig, but I definitely learned some valuable lessons when I came home with my first son, that I was thankful for when I came home with my second.
A Parenting Fail Doesn't Mean You're Failing As A Parent
We all mess us. All of us. No matter how seemingly "perfect" a parent may appear, they've definitely messed up at some point (and probably many points, let's be real). Failure is inevitable. Raising kids is hard. Trying to be perfect is impossible. However, parenting fails don't equate to a failing parent. Not in the slightest, so don't beat yourself up when you feel like you've fallen short, because you will fall short a thousand more times, and those falls will only make you better.