You’re not that bad!

Cartoon about how parent's anxieties grow as their children grow up.Many Mums and Dads I meet are too quick to write themselves off as useless. Maybe their teenagers have done a few dumb things, or their kids are giving them the silent treatment, or they see their children with habits and character flaws that really disappoint them.

Is it the parents’ fault? Well, honestly, maybe. Our role as parents really is a key factor in how kids turn out. Sometimes it is possible to draw a direct line between what we as parents do and the problems our kids have. For example, if we ourselves have a problem with anger then it is a pretty easy mystery to solve if our children have anger issues. But don’t beat yourself up too much.

At my parenting talks I am very reluctant to dump on parents. They often come with a load of guilt anyway and I very deliberately try to avoid adding to that burden; in fact, I’m keen to lighten the load a little.

First of all – we’re human, which means we make mistakes, get it wrong and stuff up. Find me a human that doesn’t and I’ll pay for a statue to be built of them because they are pretty remarkable. And because we are human, it means we can change and improve our parenting.

Parenting is a long game. The match isn’t won or lost in a single over or even if things go wrong for a couple of innings – if family life goes badly for a while that doesn’t mean you can’t stage a comeback and still end up with a great result.

Another reason you shouldn’t beat yourself too much is that you don’t have to be perfect to be an ‘okay’ parent. I reckon as long as your kids know that they are safe and loved and enjoy being at your place, you’ve already passed with merit. Good parenting does not mean that your family life never has any ruffles and ructions; good parenting is what you do to get over those times and on into the better stuff.

So if a picture of your family life at the moment shows things are a bit rough, a bit chaotic, don’t worry too much. It’s only a single frame and the movie isn’t over yet. Give yourself a reprieve and a pep talk and carry on. You’ll get there, and if we can help, we’d be delighted to.