As a parent, you’re going to fail at one time or another. In fact, there’s a good chance you’ll fail on a regular basis.
Parenting fails don’t make you a bad parent. In fact, every time you mess up, you have an opportunity to sharpen your parenting skills and teach your child valuable life lessons.
Social media has led to an interesting shift in the way we talk about parent failures. It’s encouraged us to be more open about funny and relatable parenting problems while also discouraging us from talking about the deeper, more serious issues.
Look up the hashtag “ParentFail” on social media and you’ll find humorous parenting stories. A quick peek at Twitter reveals these parenting fail confessions:
It’s great so many parents can laugh at themselves and share the humorous side to parenting. But not all social media discussions about parenting remain lighthearted. Parent shaming has become a serious problem.
Post a picture of your child enjoying a day at the beach and someone might be quick to remind you, “Too much sun exposure is bad for kids.” Or, share a photo of your child enjoying a hearty meal at his favorite restaurant and you might need to brace yourself for comments like, “I’d never let my child eat that much in one sitting. That’s why kids are so overweight these days.”
Who wants their happy memories and proud moments to be met with criticism and judgment?
Unfortunately, even tragic accidents often spur people to become the judge and jury in the court of public opinion.
When the news broke that child fell into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in May of 2016, the parents were vilified. Many people demanded the parents be charged with a crime without knowing the details of how the child fell.
Just a month later, when a toddler was snatched by an alligator at Disney World, commenters on the media articles were quick to call the parents “careless” and “stupid.”
And it’s not just the readers who are shaming parents. There are many media outlets who are happy to point out parents whom they think aren’t doing a very good job.
OK Magazine ran a story about Charlize Theron “dragging her 4-year-old son” in a parking lot. The pictures appeared to show a preschooler who didn't want to get in the car and the subtitle read, “Relationship experts dissect shocking photos.” The magazine invited readers to share their thoughts on the Ms. Theron's parenting habits.
Harsh judgment and parent shaming causes many parents to fear that they'll look like a bad parent—even when they aren't doing anything wrong. And that can lead to even bigger problems.
The fear of looking like a bad parent leads to three major problems:
Whether you lost your temper and said things you didn’t mean or you role modeled some poor choices, parenting fails are inevitable. But, each time you mess up is a chance to become better. Here are five ways to successfully bounce back from parenting fails:
If there’s anything certain about parenting, it’s that you’re going to fail sometimes. But even if you were a perfect parent, you wouldn’t be doing your child any favors.
Your child may grow up to live with an imperfect roommate, get involved with an imperfect partner, and work with imperfect people. Learning how to deal with all people—flaws and all—is an important skill.
That’s not to say you should mess up on purpose just to teach your child more life lessons. But it does mean you can take responsibility for your parenting fails.
In turn, you can role model how to build mental strength by bouncing back from failure, making amends when you've hurt someone, and learning from your mistakes.
Want to give up the bad habits that rob kids of mental strength? Pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do.