Do you spend your nights racked with guilt regarding your own behavior as a parent?
Are you constantly thinking about all the things you did wrong today?
Are you struggling to be the parent you want to be?
Do you find yourself on the hamster wheel of guilt?
Even knowing what we should do and having the intention of being a peaceful parent will not prevent moments of disruption in our connection. Here are some steps you can take when you find yourself wishing you had handled things differently:
- Breathe and recognize. Stop for a moment. Bring your attention to your breath and feel any sensations that may be present in your body. Allow all the feelings that are coming up. Acknowledge that this hurts.
- First Antidote for shame is self compassion. Embrace your humanity with compassion. You are human and no one is perfect. Remind yourself that all parents mess up and feel the same way afterwards. Look at yourself with your child’s eyes and forgive yourself. Ask yourself, are you treating yourself the way you would want your child to treat themselves when they mess up? How would you respond to your dear friend if they told you they had messed up the way you did and were feeling regretful? Give yourself the same love and compassion. Offer yourself loving kindness by putting your hand on your heart while repeating in your mind “May I give myself the compassion that I need as I try to raise my child.”
- Second Antidote for shame is self worth. Start by noticing what are some of the things you do right. Acknowledge your strengths, good intentions, and any moments, both big and small, of goodness and success as a parent that have gone unnoticed.
- Antidote for guilt is gratitude. Guilt perspective: “I am such a bad mother, I yelled at my child.” Gratitude perspective: “Today, I am grateful that I have this moment to begin again and my connection with my child is important to me.” This may not be easy at first as the inner critic’s voice of condemnation may be loud but with practice the voice of gratitude will become stronger and louder.
- Slow down and take a wellness break. Take a few minutes to prioritize your wellness. Some suggestions are to spend time in nature, journal, meditate, practice mindfulness, have a listening partnership, explore a creative outlet.
- Repair and reconnect. Apologize to your child for your actions and attitude without shame or blame. Model accountability by taking responsibility for your actions. Come up with a plan and share what you will do differently in the future. Do something to reconnect with the child such as read a book, snuggle, dance together, sing together, rough house, pillow fight, play. Remind yourself that when you make a mistake, you are modeling for your child that it is okay to be imperfect and by repairing you are modeling for them how to take accountability and action after messing up. Those are great relationship skills that will serve your child for the rest of their lives.
- Grow your parenting tool kit and set yourself up for success. Acknowledge areas where you need help and seek out tools that empower you to handle parenting challenges in a peaceful manner. Coaching and/or therapy can be extremely helpful to create transformations that stick and stay with us.