Let’s talk about parenting mistakes; you can let go of as a parent.
Let’s talk about parenting mistakes; you can let go of as a parent. The guilt over parenting mistakes you may have made as a parent and how to let that go because of guilt, excessive guilt, inappropriate guilt can get in the way of your relationship with your child. If you feel like you have to make something up or you have to explain or get them to let you off the hook, that’s going to put a burden on your child that they don’t need. You can do this yourself, and I’m going to walk you through a couple of those.
Parenting- the guilt, such a tough job that you can’t leave, and people’s lives depend on it. It’s pretty tricky, so what are these subjects or problems that people come to me with?
Loss of Control
One is the general topic of a loss of control. Let’s say you yelled at your child, or you showed a strong emotion about something else such as you were angry at your spouse, or an argument spilled over, or you punished them for a longer time than you think you should have. Or you went a little overboard, and you wish you hadn’t.
Instead of beating yourself up over parenting mistakes, remember that it’s human. We have emotions; it’s not like you need to hide them; it’s not as if you’re going to instantaneously know what that emotion is and therefore be able to let it out more graciously. That’s why we have to go back often; you have to go back and re-examine, retrospect. Instead of beating yourself up, go back to your child and tell them you apologize. Give a brief explanation, nothing too long and say, “I’m so sorry my voice got louder, I yelled, and I wish I hadn’t. I want to discuss it with you; I think it’s because I had something else going on at work that day.” Keep it brief, and then ask for their permission to try again.
A lot of parents feel that they shouldn’t, or there’s some resistance to apologizing, but they want their kid to apologize to them, they’re huge on a child needing to apologize, needing to respect them but you have to respect your child also it’s a two-way street. If you want him to have relationships after you that are two-way streets, by apologizing and giving that little brief explanation and asking to try again, you’re demonstrating how they should do this in their relationships.
In the future, when somebody loses control or has a problem, you’ll have given them the template. They’ll know how it feels on the other side, and they know how to give that apology to you or somebody else. So for the loss of control- apologize, provide a brief explanation, and ask for another chance.
Separation From a Family Member
The second parenting mistakes that people tend to beat themselves up over is some separation from another family member. Whether it’s a divorce from the child’s parent, it’s a separation from your parent-the child’s grandparent or a sibling. If you’ve had to set a boundary, whether it’s physically leaving emotionally leaving, whatever that boundary is, do not use your child’s relationship with that person as an excuse not to set that boundary.
Does it make sense? If you have a problem with your parents, maybe they’re invasive or intrusive, and you try to work it out. It’s not working. You have to for your safety sanity let them distance yourself from them or anybody that’s going to be in your child’s best interest because it’s going to be in your best interest. That’s you helping yourself. To improve the relationships of those in your life, you don’t want to see you being run over or taken advantage of, that is not good for them.
I have so many patients who say, “but I don’t want to rob them of their relationship with their grandparent.” You’re not robbing them of the relationship; you’re strengthening your relationship with them. They need that way more than a relationship with a grandparent. I’ve got parents, my kids, and I didn’t have a relationship with the grandparents. It is a beautiful thing, but having a solid relationship with a parent is everything. Do not fool yourself that this pain of separation from the child, from the family member, is somehow more important than yours because it’s not.
When the child gets older, you can give a brief explanation of the separation. Keep it short because you don’t want to look like you’re putting the problem on your child. You can say, Well, we couldn’t work things out, and it was better for us, better for me that I separate. But when you are of driving age, or when you turn 18 or if you want to have a relationship with them and don’t need me to facilitate that, I will not stand between you.” That child is free to go on and have a relationship if they so choose. Why is this important? Because you are demonstrating just like with the apology situation, you’re demonstrating how to set boundaries.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re telling your child to set boundaries; show them how it’s done right. You want to show them this is how I did it and that gives them a template. So when they get to be of age, someone’s walking all over them, and you’re wondering, “Gee, why did they keep letting this person walk all over them? Well, because of you, because you’ve set a boundary and you showed them how that’s very important for them to not only do but to see you do and to see you do it right. Stop beating yourself up over that.
Physical Distancing From Your Child
The third parenting mistakes that a lot of parents, especially in this area, beat themselves up for is physical distancing from your child. Physical distancing from a child is not a good thing in general, but there are times where physical distance is necessary. A good example is if you are in the military, and you have to be deployed. Or for your work you have to go somewhere for some time or perhaps there’s a sick family member that you need to take care of or some legal issue you have to separate and get taken care of for the best interest of you and your family. It’s how you handle it, I’m not saying this is easy for your children or your child but if you leave and say well I got to go and that’s how it is.. Yes, that’s going to make it a little harder.
Mitigate Loss With Your Child
There are ways you can mitigate that loss with your child, depending on their age if they’re younger. You want to give them something concrete to hold on to. Especially if it’s something that kids are very sensitive to smells and textures so if you have a shirt you wear every day or a lot like a t-shirt or undershirt, or maybe you have a hairbrush that they can hold on to and hold with them that’s great for a younger child. An older child, you may want to sit with a calendar and have some communication set up in advance and also give them a picture of you. Or something that you’ve done together, maybe you and your child can make a little photo album before you leave.
The communication piece, have it scheduled. That gives them more to look at. Such as calendar and know when it’s coming as opposed to feeling like they never know. If you have no communication, then I recommend leaving a tape recording of different messages with somebody who can play that on a regular schedule so that they can hear your voice or read your words.
With older kids, I recommend just sending a funny text cartoon or a little story, maybe to touch base because they will be working out their comings and goings at that time. You may have to wait for them to say, “Hey, what’s going on with you?” So again, checking back in with them shows them how, in the future, when they need to separate from somebody physically distance themselves when they don’t want to, this is how they can prepare a loved one in advance.
The pattern of dealing with parenting mistakes is part of the game. Parenting is about making many many mistakes and hopefully thinking and heading off some of those mistakes in advance. It’s about going back and making an example of that thinking how would I want my child to handle this. How would I wish my parents have dealt with this or how did they handle it. Where it worked for me, and then go ahead and show them that.