Failure while Parenting – How to Grow from it

Every kid is different

Being a parent is tough.   No matter how well prepared, and how good your intentions are, and how well you’ve thought it all out and planned it,  something will happen that you didn’t expect, and one of your children will be sad or upset, or there will be hurt feelings.   And there is no way to be prepared for the event.  But as a parent who tries to be better, it is vital to learn how to deal with these situations.  Every situation is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Unfortunately, failure while parenting is par for the course.

Being a parent is tough

And as if it is not hard enough navigating through the treacherous waters of parenthood, to keep things that much more interesting, every child is different.  And my kids are no exception to this rule. Oh, and of course, we can’t forget that their attitudes, personalities, likes, and dislikes change on an hourly basis. You know, why not?

failure while parenting

Failure While Parenting

I try to be a good mom. I have flaws, and I forget things, and I mess things up, but I try. But sometimes, the things that I forget are more important than making sure my kids have packed an extra pair of shoes on a rainy day (which I have forgotten). I had forgotten that they are still little people who need guidance and help, regardless of how independent they are. And I only realized much much later, when my one little girl was balling her eyes out after bedtime, sobbing to her sister about it.

So, what happened?

My one daughter is very independent, brave, strong, fearless, good at 98% of the things she does. She does not need help because she can do it by herself. And she does not like getting help because she can do it by herself. My other daughter is the opposite. She needs someone to help her, even if it is to be there and watch. They are much the opposite.

So, one night we’re drawing. I found these spiral making toys at the local dollar store, and we were trying to make fancy designs. We bought nice colorful pens so that the drawings could be fancy.

spiral toys

 

The independent daughter was off to the races, holding the frame and creating the spirals. The spirals were not perfect.  They were, however,  done very well done for the first attempts.

Right from the get-go, the less-independent daughter asked for help.  “Mommy, can you hold the frame.”  Well, with all the circles and spirals and drawing in circles, I needed 2 hands to hold the frame in place to make the spiral design work.  And, like most people, I only have 2 hands, so I was not able to hold the other frame at the same time…. 

3 failed attempts

After 3 failed attempts to make the perfect spiral design, the independent daughter has had enough!  She stands up from the table, picks her paper up, crumples it, and throws it into the garbage.  No words, no display of emotions, just throwing away a piece of paper.

At the time, this seemed odd as we never throw anything away in our house.  But I thought, ok, and we carried on with the next activity.

failure while parenting

Hindsight Is always 20:20

The less-independent daughter finished her design and wanted to take a picture to share with the grandparents.  So, she fished out the paper from the garbage so that it could be displayed with hers for all to see.  

This is when things started to go downhill.  Emotions started to show, anger, sadness, frustration. 

It hit me that I should have helped a bit more, but she was doing so well and didn’t ask for help.  I can’t recall if I offered to help her or not, but knowing how independent she is, it’s most probable that I didn’t.  This was my failure while parenting.

After the display of emotions was over, we quickly chatted and she was off to play with her dolls.

failure picture 1
failure picture 2

Bedtime, always an adventure

As a parent, you know that bedtime is a time for so many things to go wrong. This particular evening, things were running smoothly. Pajamas on and teeth brushed, stories read and lights out.  All in record time!

Then, as I walked out of the room, the crying started. The independent daughter was devastated, she wanted was to make beautiful drawings like her sister. And it wasn’t fair. She was giving up and never trying again!  

I came back into the room and snuggled into her bed, and after I helped to calm her down, we talked. We agreed that we don’t need to be upset and that we will work on it some more (another day) and that we’ll get better at it in time.  

 

Apologizing as an adult is ok.

Of course, after she fell asleep, I realized I should have paid more attention to her when she was doing the new activity.  As an adult, I should have been aware.  So,  the next morning, I sat her down on my lap and apologized to her for forgetting that she is little and for not helping her. This apology meant more to her than our talk the night before about trying again.  And she skipped off as happy as can be.

Personal Growth

From that event, both independent daughter and I have had some growth.  I now remind myself often that even though she is independent and rarely wants help, I still need to ask and offer, and she’s learned that when she’s frustrated with something, that it’s ok to ask for help.

And as a bonus, she has now learned how to make super awesome spiral designs.

Successful picture 1
Successful picture 2
Successful picture 3

Parenting it tough

It’s tough to be a parent. I know this.  As a parent, there are always opportunities for failure while parenting.  At these time, I remind myself in a situation such as this:

  1. Young kids have trouble processing their emotions.  As adults, we need to help them navigate these emotions.
  2. Kids will find things hard the first time they try them.  Often hard things can be discouraging without proper reinforcement.  Practice makes us better.  No one is great at everything the first time they try.
  3. Just because a child gets frustrated by an activity, it doesn’t mean they need to give up.  And as a parent getting angry or frustrated with them for that won’t help the situation.  
  4. Being level-headed and calm in times of emotional overload as a parent makes the situation much more manageable for both the parent and the child.
  5. Every day is a new challenge, and the solution from yesterday may not work today
  6. Kids are awesome.  They need love and encouragement to grow.  And they need space to learn how to manage new skills, new emotions, new everything.

Cornerstones

This post on failure while parenting is one of my cornerstone documents.  It is a moment in time to reflect on life and remember that we are all human.   If you liked what you read here, check out some of my other cornerstone articles found here.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. As a patent I often remind myself to fail forward and to give myself some grace. Nobody knows what they are doing as a parent. Those little ones don’t come with manuals. We can just do our best and come from a place of love.

    1. Katherine

      It’s funny, as a parent you forget it’s ok to fail, especially when little eyes are looking at you. Thanks for the feedback!

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