Have you ever tried to explain to your non-parent friends what it’s like to have kids? It’s almost impossible to sum it all up in words. That’s because there is a myriad of feelings, and those feelings sometimes conflict with each other. Guilt is one of the feelings you’ll have to endure, and for most parents, it’s almost constant.
Even if you’re a great parent, you’ll feel some guilt. You feel it when you drop your kids off at daycare on your way to work. You’ll feel it when you have to make the tough decisions that leave your child wailing in disappointment.
So how do we handle guilt? We try harder.
Trying to be a better parent doesn’t mean you’re a bad one to start. It simply means that you’re working to improve upon your skills.
Here are some tips for becoming a better parent.
Find healthy coping mechanisms :
Just like no one can prepare you for the guilt, they can’t communicate what it feels like to have a tiny person asking the same question on repeat for seven hours straight. Parenting is filled with highs and lows, and it’s up to us as parents to handle the lows with grace.
No parent has the perfect response to every stressful moment, but you can improve by finding healthy coping mechanisms. If you turn to alcohol after a long day of work and parenting, everyone will suffer. In that case, first get help. There are some great family treatment programs that can work with the entire family unit. Next, find healthy outlets for stress, like exercise, yoga or meditation.
Let go of perfection
It’s important for every parent to strive to be better, but don’t strive for perfection. Parenting is the most difficult job anyone can have, and it’s impossible to be perfect. You’ll have moments where you want to give yourself a high five, and there will be moments where you feel like a complete failure. It comes with the territory.
But when you let go of perfection, you won’t stress quite as much over those small failures. You’ll realize that everything is a learning experience and try to handle things better next time.
Spend more time with your kids :
Time is one of the most common sources of guilt that parents have. We tend to feel guilty whenever we spend long stretches of time away from our kids. Sometimes, you can’t help it. Try not to let yourself feel guilt over working. You’re helping to provide for your family, and that’s important.
But choose your time outside of work wisely. Most of this time should be reserved for your kids. This means that you should be fully present instead of wrapped up in reading something on your phone while the kids play around you. These are moments that you’ll never get back, so try to use them to create family memories.
If there’s one thing all parents can agree on, it’s that parenting is hard. When you make a mistake, identify it and try to handle things better next time. It’s the best any of us can do.
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