Have you ever felt like you’ve made a massive mistake? Have you ended up feeling guilty and wishing you could go back and do things differently? Mistakes can make us feel awful, but they don’t have to. Here’s why mistakes in parenting can actually be a good thing!
Two and a half years into parenting and one thing I am quickly learning is mistakes & being a parent go hand in hand. We so desperately want to get it right for our children, but the reality is, we never will 100% of the time.
When Jonas was about 4 months old I was out with a friend who had a baby of a similar age. This was not her first and so she was more experienced. I found myself in a situation whereby she was going to handle a scenario a certain way. I had never been confronted by this particular situation before and so I just went along with her way of doing things, not wanting to seem fussy. On the way home I thought things through and decided I should have done things differently.
It wasn’t a big thing, but when I got home I felt awful. I’d responded to a situation out of fear of what I might look like, rather than out of my own conviction. The mistake wasn’t massive, but I’ll be honest, at the time it felt it. I wished I could have gone back; done as I had wanted to rather than how this mum did things. I got home and cried. Feeling awful and like I had failed.
I learnt three very valuable lessons that day:
- We will make mistakes, that’s inevitable.
- We need to forgive ourselves. I had to let go that day. I made a mistake, it’s part of parenting, but how I then let it affect me was my choice. I could feel bad, allowing myself for a couple of hours or days to feel like ‘a bad mummy’, or I could accept I’m not perfect, and that’s ok.
- Mums do things differently, sometimes very differently. We have different standards and different opinions on what’s best. For me, I need to learn that it doesn’t matter if another mum might think I’m fussy, or overly worried. What matters is knowing my standards and my convictions as a mum, and living by that.
After that incident I resolved that should that type of scenario ever recur I would act out of my own conviction for what I think is best for my son rather than simply going with the flow.
So often in parenting there is no right or wrong. What’s best for our children depends on our own values, experiences and understanding. But one thing that is right, is to act out of our own conviction.
Now when I feel like I have made mistakes, I’ll be honest, initially I might feel bad. But then I consider them as an opportunity. An opportunity to think how I could do things differently next time. I’ll never be perfect, I won’t get it all right. But I can allow my mistakes to sharpen my focus for the future. Mistakes can force us to consider how we’ll do things differently next time. And when those situations occur again, rather than simply reacting we can act proactively.
How do you feel after making mistakes? Have they helped you to be more proactive in certain areas of parenting?