It has happened so many times in communities of moms. We sit with each other, hopefully over something nice and warm, and we pour out the harsh things we believe we’ve done as parents. We show such beautiful vulnerability as we admit where we’ve gone wrong with our children. We yelled too soon. We got on their level when we knew we should rise above. We feel terrible, and we feel inadequate.
This is not wholly a bad thing. We need to be able to examine ourselves and improve. But you are doing this because you love your kids and you want to be a good mama. Those kids are so lucky to have you!
At this point, most of us can say that the zero failure parenting model where we artfully intercept as many curveballs as possible, and we cushion every blow that we can’t completely avoid just doesn’t work. Sure, Sally grows up confident in her ability to do just about anything and ready to take on the world, but have you seen American Idol? Those poor children (adults!) can’t sing AND NO ONE EVER TOLD THEM! They are crushed! They are defeated! Or even worse, they are still confident. They are sure it’s us, not them. They will continue to pursue a dead end. I’m not talking about the person that needs refinement and drive, I’m talking about the person that is actually tone deaf in a way that can’t be fixed.
Alternative? Teach them how to fail. Teach them the difference between failing as a true signal to change course vs failing as a signal to keep training.
In fact, I would argue that teaching kids how to deal with inevitable failure in a healthy way is crucial to true confidence because it helps us see that we are more than our failures. If you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying. If you aren’t failing, you are staying square inside your (confident) comfort zone. You aren’t doing anything new or challenging. Some people just have things come easy, but everyone will hit a wall and fail if they are trying hard enough.
So why are we so terrified of making mistakes with our kids?
In case you didn’t know, you are not a perfect parent. Ok, maybe you’re 90% perfect by the grace of God, but that 10% weakness is valuable! Instead of hiding that failure from your children, show them the right way to fail. Show them how a mature, loving adult fails.
If you are way too harsh, apologize! Your kid probably already knows you acted a fool. Apologize! Tell him that you shouldn’t have raised your voice like that. Tell him that you are going to try harder. Ask for forgiveness even if that concept is way beyond her. You don’t NEED her forgiveness because that is already given to us. Tell your child that we are so extravagantly fortunate that His mercies begin fresh each day!
Show them humility. I am so sure that so many of our issues as people are rooted in pride and ingratitude. Humility is a very hard lesson. Plant those seeds early! Even moms and dads can be humble OR even moms and dads can be stubborn and prideful.
YOU ARE ALWAYS TEACHING A LESSON! Parenting is a lot of pressure, huh? But we get to choose the lessons we teach. Our children will model their behavior after us. Let’s be honest with ourselves about what we’re showing them, and bravely change course if it’s not going the way we hope.
Don’t beat yourself up for failing. Use it. Make that failure count, and just like we tell our kids, try harder next time. Give yourself some grace. You’re not perfect, but you were CHOSEN to be the parent to that child. You were entrusted with those little people. You are exactly the one to train them. You are enough. I’m sure you are trying so hard, and you are giving way beyond what you probably thought you could. I know you’re tired. As we’re refining these babies, the work in us is still being done. We are still being perfected. That’s a good thing!
If your kids know you’re not perfect, but you humbly keep trying, you’re doing it right.