There are times as a parent where you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Times when you feel like you are just winging it and ruining your kid. Here’s the deal, yes, you are screwing up your kid, but it’s going to be ok.
I was 19 when I had my son, barely 19.
At the time I didn’t understand why people thought I was “so young” and I really didn’t understand what they meant when they said that I had no idea what I was getting into. I mean, I’d babysat for years, my mom had watched kids in our house and I helped out a lot. I knew what it was like to be around kids.
And then they handed me this baby. 8lbs 6oz. of squirmy softness and I was expected not only to keep him alive but somehow teach him things and raise him to be a respectable human being.
I looked at him and felt emotions that I did not know were possible and suddenly realized what people had been saying, I had no idea what I was getting into… or what I was doing.
I recently said to my best friend who also had her daughter young, “How did we do it?” Because looking back it doesn’t seem like we would have been very successful.
I look at my son now, he’s 20, and I realize how young I was, and I can’t imagine that at 19 I not only had a baby, but got married, and moved to an ARMY base halfway across the country from everything and everyone I had ever known.
But I look at my son, and he is awesome. He’s a cybersecurity major in college, he’s learning Chinese, he holds down a job, and most importantly he’s a thinker, he is kind, and we have a great relationship.
However, sometimes he has self-doubts, sometimes during our talks about life, I can see places where I could have done things differently, where I could have parented him in a way that those worries wouldn’t be there.
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As a parent we all have those days where we feel like we’re probably screwing our kids up, where we know that our flaws are affecting them, our decisions leaving marks that aren’t the most positive. We have stressful times, we have a HUGE learning curve, and we’re honestly just making it up as we go along. Each child is different, each stage is different and all of them are messy, complicated and tough to navigate.
Now having a son who’s 20, one who is 16, and one who is 10, I can see how my parenting has evolved, I can listen to my older sons and do things differently, I can learn and grow right alongside them and hopefully keep the screwing up to a minimum.
But the fact is that we all screw our kids up somehow. It’s true, we might do too much for them, or not enough. We might spoil them, or they might have a sense of lack. We might give them too much independence or not enough freedom. Our intentions are good, we want what is best for them, but the human psyche is a delicate complicated thing.
I’m here to tell you though, it’s okay…. Really, really it is. Those mistakes you’re crying in the bathroom over, those worries keeping you up at night. The reality that yes screwing them up in inevitable
Yes, you are screwing up your kids and it is all going to be all right.
Kids don’t have an instruction manual – This is the god’s honest truth. You have this idea of what your child is going to look like, how they’ll behave and then their born. You have a baby that demands to be fed and changed and keeps you up all night. You live a couple years in a sleep-deprived stupor and then… then you have a toddler. Suddenly your little baby has turned into a screaming running banshee who flushes toys down the toilet, and colors themselves with a permanent marker as soon as your back is turned for 1.7 seconds.
You can get advice from your family and friends but ultimately you must navigate each stage and teach yourself how to do it. When else in life are we handed something so important that we have to figure out as we go?
So yes, there are bound to be mistakes. We are bound to feel overwhelmed, have no clue what we’re doing, and basically totally wing it.
Give yourself some credit. There is no other job in life that throws you in head first with very little preparation!
When you know better you do better – The beautiful thing about life is that we get to learn and grow. We get to have experiences that teach us so that we can change. The most important thing about parenting is adapting and learning that maybe what you were doing wasn’t working and it’s ok to course correct.
With each day you know more, with each year your experience is greater, and with each child, you get more comfortable with your role as a mom.
So, apologize to your first born for having to be a guinea pig, and let your younger ones know how lucky they are you got your practice before they came along.
Forgive yourself for the mistakes you made because you simply didn’t know better, and then be thankful that you have the opportunity to grow and change.
Your heart is in the right place – We love our kids. The decisions we make for them and about their upbringing all stems from that. That is what you need to remember. Maybe you were too strict with your first born but why? Because you love them and wanted to teach them something you felt was important. Maybe you spoiled your child too much? I’ll bet that stems from loving them and wanting to give them the world. Love is always at the base of our decisions as parents, and that is really important. If your child knows in no uncertain terms that they are loved they can overcome just about anything, even your parenting mistakes. So, focus on that, know that what you are doing now as a parent and what you’ve done comes from love and allow that knowledge to give you peace!
They will find their way- Here’s the thing, no matter what you do, or don’t do, screw up, or do perfectly, your child is walking their own path in this life. They are going to make decisions, they are going to have experiences, and they are going to be shaped and molded not only by you but by the life that they choose to lead. Whatever issues they have will work themselves out as they grow and mature and become the people that they want to be. Our parenting lays a foundation, and even though there may be parts where we feel like we failed if most of it is strong then they’ll have no problem building an amazing life on it. They’ll be able to learn and grow, overcome, and become strong amazing people.
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So, take a deep breath, yes you may be screwing up your kids, but that’s ok. Lead with love, cut yourself some slack, and know that your child is going to be just fine. No parent ever has had all the answers, made no mistakes, or gotten it all 100% right. We all just do our best, and that my friend, is enough.