Having a baby… easy.
Raising a child… tough.
Raising an adult… an extreme level tough that leaves you questioning everything you have ever done and anything you ever will do.
Parenting is hands down the most challenging thing I have ever done. Yes, I have been through some tough times in my life and have overcome some tall mountains, but none of that compares to the ongoing battle that being a parent presents. Parenting continually exposes holes in my character, holes that need to be fixed. My parenting battle has nothing to do with the day-to-day struggles of raising an adult and introducing him to the world.
The battle is always waged within me.
Am I doing this right? Am I doing enough? Am I enough? These are questions that many parents ask themselves on a regular basis. We strive so hard to keep our kids happy and healthy that we drive ourselves into the ground. The guilt of parenthood often creeps into our minds when we compare our kids and parenting to others. We believe that we are not enough and that we must be more to everyone in order to live up to their expectations of us.
You can’t be more unless you fix where you are less.
Your parental guilt has nothing to do with your children. Your children will be just fine. All they need is a healthy environment to wake up to every day, and as long as the necessities are taken care of, they will for the most part grow up to be productive and amazing adults. Some of the most influential people of our time came from homes that lacked even the most basic of human needs. It is not your job as a parent to make your kids happy, that is their job. The quicker they learn how to be happy on their own, the more independent they will be in adulthood. But I digress.
We allow our weaknesses, our fears and our perceived inadequacies to get in our kid’s way. We believe that we are helping our children by protecting them from our perceived threats and flaws, but really, we are just breaking them with our problems.
When we feel guilt as a parent, we are trying our best to mask the pain of something that happened to us along the way. We protect our children from that bad feeling even though we can’t protect ourselves from it, so we cover them up from our fears and over promise and under deliver to fill in for what we lack. But we can’t do enough, our pain is too broad of a hole to fill. So we feel guilty.
There is a pain cycle here. You have pain from your past, but you can’t face it right now, your kids need you, so you bury it. Your pain pops up, and you allow it to manifest itself into your parenthood with guilt or anger, so you overcompensate as a parent. Your children feel it, so they act out. You feel guilty that they are acting out and then the cycle continues. The cycle will likely continue into the next generation, most likely in the same fashion, that you received your weaknesses and fears.
End the cycle.
To rid yourself of the parental guilt trap, you must take time to face the pains of your past. You have to be honest with yourself and get over that ego that you are trying so desperately hard to maintain. You are not selfish by working on you, you are selfish by not working on you. Your children need the best version of you at any given time, and that cannot be done without consistent work on your mind, body and soul. Yes, you are a father or a mother, but you are also a human being. A human being with weaknesses and emotional pain that is always in need of continual improvement.
Parenting is not a horse race.
As a parent you are a runner in an 18-year long marathon; while running the race are always seeking ways to maintain your body and your mind to keep running a little bit more. If you worry about the other runners and where they are at in their race, you will fail.
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