“I can handle this,” you say, taking a huge deep breath.
And most of the time, you do.
But there are the days when things seem to fall apart. When nothing goes as planned and everyone is yelling at each other.
Instead of seeing this as a white flag waving in the wind, you turn inward…”I can handle this. I can handle this.”
The truth is, you can’t handle it. Or, you can’t handle it as well as you’d like.
You need help, support, guidance.
What starts as a good intention gets a little off track, and without knowing it, you end up lying to yourself. (And maybe crying in the bathroom. Or throwing a sippy cup across the room.)
It is good to have high expectations for yourself as a parent, but these expectations often leave you feeling lonely, stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated.
You are not stuck. Changing your thoughts can change your mood, behavior, and entire outlook on parenting.
Here are 7 common (yet often unstated) lies parents tell themselves. As you scan this list, pick one that resonates with you, and give the “Imperfect Parenting Truth” a try instead.
7 Parenting Truths
I must be perfect: There is always something out there highlighting our “imperfections” – Pinterest, Facebook, birthday parties, or even our own expectations. The truth is, no one is perfect. If we took time to focus on what we do well, there may be less time to focus on what we envy about others.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I am imperfect, AND I love these things about being a mom…(fill in the blank).
I should do more: Similar to “I should be perfect,” this lie focuses on what we are not doing as moms. It could be anything from, “I should take my children to the library,” to “I should cook a homemade meal every night.” We often rationalize that it is for the “good of the children” when actually it may be more about keeping up with other moms.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I provide love and security for my children, and I will add activities that line up with our family values.
It’s my fault if my child fails or struggles: No one wants their child to encounter challenges or difficulties, even if it is a part of life. A good parent does their best to prepare their child for potential roadblocks in the future. If your child fails, it may mean that they need more help dealing with this particular situation, it does not mean that you personally are a failure.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I prepare my child for challenges and celebrate the effort rather than the outcome.
I am to blame for my child’s behavior: It’s easy to forget that children are immature – tantrums, meltdowns, and resistance are all developmentally appropriate. Their brain is still growing and self-regulation is a slow road. Lots of factors play a role in how your child behaves and how they make sense of the world. The only thing you can control is how you respond to your child’s behavior.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I am a calm, confident caregiver, and I do what I can to help my child thrive.
I am responsible for my child’s choices: Even if you give your child fantastic advice, provide a good model for life, and give your child every incentive for following your lead, your child is still an individual. Which means, they will make their own choices. Rather than taking the blame, use this as an opportunity to talk about ways to manage the problem differently next time.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I provide a strong foundation for my child, and I use difficulties as an oppotunity to brainstorm together and teach new skills.
I must put my child first: We live in a child-centered society, one that values taking care of the children before ourselves. Many moms neglect their need for exercise, nutritional eating, relaxation, and relationship-building to provide for their children. Taking time for yourself sets a good example for your children, and may help you find the energy to be the mom you want to be.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I value self-care and I realize that making time for myself is an essential part of parenting well.
I can handle this alone: Asking for support, encouragement or guidance is often seen as a weakness. Parenting is hard, and there is no reason you have to go through the difficult times alone. Admitting that you need help is a challenging step. There are resources available if you are willing to take the risk and reach out.
Imperfect Parenting Truth: I cannot handle every parenting dilemma alone; asking for help is one way I can provide the best care for my children.
As the day continues to unravel, you finally surrender, “I cannot handle this.”
You pick up the phone and text a friend.
Guess what? She’s having one of those days too!
You swap stories, share encouragement (and maybe a few parenting memes) and head back to your kids feeling re-energized.
Maybe it’s not so bad to tell the truth.
How can I help?
If these lies have become too much for you, or you are feeling too overwhelmed to try to change it on your own, seek support from a friend, mental health therapist or parent coach. Just like we cannot handle every parenting dilemma alone, we do not have to work on our own personal struggles alone. Reaching out for help is the first step.