Have you ever been embarrassed by your child’s screams in a crowded restaurant or store? Did you ever sink to bribery, or hollow threats in order to get a little cooperation? Did jealousy creep in when a friend’s child the same age or younger did something your child still hasn’t mastered? Have you ever bought a guilt gift? If so, welcome to parenthood. You’ve finally made it.
We ALL suck at parenting sometimes. It’s part of the evolution in parenting, especially as your children get older and start to show their true personalities. The first year of life, for many parents, is like dating a new person. It is so fresh and new that even the long nights or direct spitting of food in your eye is overlooked. Your precious little one is still a bundle direct from heaven (most of the time). It is romantic and wonderful.
Then you discover the truth – sometimes your kids suck (in a you wouldn’t trade them for the world sort of way) and so do you – at least according to all the parenting books. Each child is born with a distinct personality requiring an individualized parenting plan. But, just like that detailed birthing plan you created before your first was born, it can get thrown out the window when faced with certain situations.
I have been a parent for 13 years and have cared for other people’s children since 2006. But, this does not mean I am a perfect parent. We are human, so we are going to make mistakes. Anyone who claims to know everything when it comes to parenting is simply trying to sell a book, or is putting on a show.
Most of the time, I am able to calmly assess a situation and ask my children to “use their words.” I try to set clear boundaries with consistent punishments. I try to pick my battles with my children. I usually enjoy their silliness and try to referee arguments in a fair manner. BUT, sometimes I have sucked as a parent. Don’t judge and I promise not to judge you the next time your perfect two-year-old collapses in the middle of Target and you sheepishly notice the spectators, or the group next to you at IHOP asks to change tables within two minutes of being seated beside your brood.
To my past, present, and future daycare clients, don’t worry I have never sucked as a child care provider, just as a parent;)
Oh how I have sucked, aka broken conventional parenting rules… Let me count the ways:
- Turning on the TV or handing over my iPhone in order to get a couple of chores done. For those who see the television as the enemy, I say you are looking at this important tool in the wrong way. A little Sprout, Nick Jr., or Elmo for 30 minutes while you are making dinner, or checking your e-mail, or simply using the bathroom can be life saving, for everyone.
- Brainwashing my child. If you are a sports fan, then you are guilty too. My children understand that the Raiders rule and the Broncos, well they suck, but we say stink just to be polite.
- Let them eat dessert for dinner. Ok, I only did this once, but in my defense they had eaten a really late lunch and I knew serving a proper meal would be pointless. Besides, isn’t dark chocolate healthier than deep-fried nuggets?
- Shortcut the bedtime routine. Yes, I will admit to skipping a couple of pages or words in their bedtime story when it was late and I was exhausted. Of course, this only works until about three-years-old when they start to memorize every page and word.
- Laughed and unintentionally encouraged the “I’m sexy and I know it” dance (darn M&M commercial). Even if it’s cute the first time, never ever laugh at these sorts of things because you know they will decide to put on a show in front of someone who doesn’t appreciate a four-year-old that can shake his or her booty.
- Threatening to leave my child at various public locations – most recently the dentist when my six-year-old ignored my repeated “time to go” in favor of the video game placed in the waiting room. I proceeded to “make good” on my threat and left the front door. I almost felt guilty as he wailed after me, but only because he had just had a cavity filled.
- Threatening my children that we would tell the almighty manager if they misbehaved at every restaurant we ever ate at. For years my daughter recoiled in fear at anyone dressed in a restaurant uniform.
- Taking the batteries out of an extremely noisy toy and claiming not to have any more batteries. (Who doesn’t do this?)
- Locking the bathroom door and running the shower, while pretending not to hear my children’s incessant “What are you doing?” (go bother Daddy)
- Telling the kids to “go ask Daddy,” so he can be the bad guy. Of course, this can backfire and make him the hero and you will just be the jerk who wouldn’t let them watch a movie past bedtime or eat jelly beans right after breakfast.
Please feel free to add some of your “proudest” parenting moments in the comments section. Also, check out some other parent fails (you will see I’m not alone) on The Truth About Motherhood’s latest blog Mom Fail 101, of course she recovered fairly well.