Do a quick hashtag search for #momfails or #dadfails, and you’ll see it for yourself…
Thousands upon thousands of posts dedicated to the most embarrassing, surprising, and downright epic parenting mistakes.
Of course, if you’re a parent yourself, none of these will come as a surprise.
From botched at-home haircuts to falling asleep on the job, we’ve all been there. And we all have those cringe-worthy moments that we know we’ll look back and laugh at … one day.
But what about the seemingly more significant parenting mistakes? You know, the regrettable actions or reactions that you wish you could take back.
While those moments are never fun to live through, I’d argue they’re essential for teaching our kids that nobody is perfect — not even their parents.
We’re all going to make parenting mistakes. And when you embrace them in the right way, you have the opportunity to teach your child five very important life lessons.
Lesson 1: It’s always okay to ask for forgiveness.
Making mistakes teaches kids how to ask for (and grant) forgiveness. When you mess up, react the way you’d want your child to. In other words, apologize. While some parents think this undermines their authority, it actually teaches our kids respect and the power of saying you’re sorry.
Lesson 2: Open communication is the best form of communication.
Even if it’s not right away, talk about how you screwed up and what you could’ve done better. Sometimes you’ll have to plan these conversations, and sometimes they’ll just happen, but taking the time to express how frustrated, sad, or embarrassed the mistake made you feel will show your child that talking about these moments is a healthy thing to do. Perfection is not the expectation, and putting words to your emotions (even the BIG ones) is 100% okay — always.
Lesson 3: Mistakes don’t define you, but how you handle them does.
Depending on the age of your children, you can use “mess up” situations to show them how to stay calm when things get hard. Take deep breaths, laugh it out, or give each other a little much-needed space — whatever works best for your family and the situation.
I also encourage parents to use small, daily parenting mistakes or accidents (when things feel more in control and with less at stake) to push themselves to talk about how they’re feeling and how they can stay in control. For example, if you spill your coffee on the floor, explain to your child that sometimes accidents happen, and you’ll do your best to clean it up. Talk out how it’s making you feel and how you can make it better, all without losing your cool.
Lesson 4: Nobody (not even Mom or Dad) is perfect.
Let’s face it — as parents, we can be hard on ourselves. But we don’t want our kids to bear that same burden. We will mess up, and our kids will, too. So show them how to move on in a productive way and learn from their mistakes. Be open and honest about the fact that you don’t have it all together, and demonstrate that you’re still learning, too.
Lesson 5: And life isn’t always perfect either.
Not every day is going to go according to plan. Plans change, accidents happen, expectations aren’t always met — and that’s okay. The only thing we can do is stand up, dust ourselves off, and move on in the best way we know how. Parenting is a 24/7 job, and most of the time we get it right. Let’s not forget that when a mistake trips us up.
The big takeaway? Not all parenting mistakes are #epicfails, especially if we’re mindful of how we handle them and how we move forward.
Give yourself a break, continue to show up the best way you can for your family, and let the past go. Because tomorrow’s a new day. And while it may not be perfect, it will be beautiful.
When it comes to navigating the challenges of parenting, you’re not alone. At TogetherWell, we offer support groups and therapy options to help with this challenging stage of life, so visit our website or give us a call any time to connect and set up a time to talk.