Self Compassion for Parents

How many of us are parents and consistently worried about how we are going to raise our kids in this society and not “screw them up?” Parents are striving for their kids to excel and be perfect. Parents are worried they are making mistakes that will affect their kids forever.

I am here to tell you that no parent is perfect. Every parent makes mistakes and we need to have self-compassion in doing so. How can we expect parents to be perfect and have all the answers when every individual kid is different? What may have worked with your parenting style for one kid is not likely to work with another. We are all individuals and all different in our beliefs, behaviors, and personalities. This is what makes us unique and wonderful, however it is also the stress of every parent out there trying to figure out what is the “right” thing to do with their kid.

So how do you figure out how to be the best parent you can be?

  1. Focus on what is important to you as parents: What values and characteristics do you want your child or teen to have when they grow up? For example, I want my child to grow up and know how to be honest, independent, respectful, kind, etc. If you can work to identify the core values that you want to instill in your child then you can figure out how to manage the behaviors to achieve that.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to other parents and worrying about their judgments: There will be parents that are stricter than you and there will be parents that are more lenient. Be confident in the values you are teaching your child and create a plan/rules that speaks to those values. As we stated, all children are different, so let’s not worry about how one mom is parenting their child and judging you for how you are parenting yours. Parents, in general, love to talk about their own kids and how they handle difficulties. It’s great to listen to others, but also know what you feel is right for your particular child. Remind yourself that people look perfect from a distance but that every parent is dealing with their own struggles.
  3. Take care of yourself!!!! Anyone that knows me as a therapist knows I am a big promoter of self-care. How can we expect to be the best parent, wife, worker, friend, etc. if we don’t take care of ourselves? Find ways to take some time to do something relaxing for yourself that makes you happy, even if it means a few minutes a day. There is nothing wrong with getting a sitter so that you can go get a massage, or take a walk, or have a date night with your husband. It is important that we take time to self soothe so that we can have the energy and attention that is necessary to deal with the various aspects of our lives.
  4. Have compassion for yourself: Nobody is perfect. Everyone has their own personal challenges they are dealing with. It is okay to make mistakes. It is important that your kids see that their parents makes mistakes sometimes and knows that is okay. Your child will learn they don’t need to be perfect and they can take responsibility for mistakes made and move forward.

If you have additional questions on how to have self-compassion or are struggling with your child/teen please feel free to contact me.

Amanda Woodard, MA, LPC

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