This month's question: I can’t help comparing my parenting skills to other moms, and I never measure up. I feel like I don’t give my kids enough time, enough experiences, enough of the right foods, enough independence. How do I know if I measure up?
Parenting requires confidence to be successful. It can undermine our confidence to hear others make disparaging comments about our skills or talk up their own successes, which can make us question our own abilities. But keep in mind—there isn’t a scale for measuring your success as a parent. If you keep striving for improvement, that’s the best way to measure personal growth and success.
Ask yourself: “Did I improve my time management?” “Did I provide healthy meals and a healthy home for my children?” “Am I living an example of our faith?” Take it one day at a time and strive for improvements in your approach as you go.
But remember not to measure your success or failure against anyone else—you’ve been blessed with different gifts and need to make the most of what you have.
Devonne Carter, LCSW, is a Clinical Social Worker in private practice in Edmond. 405-326-3923, www.carterscounseling.com.
It sounds like you’re dealing with the dreaded “mommy guilt,” that feeling that you’re doing everything wrong and your kids are going to suffer for your lack of parenting skills.
But the truth is, there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Comparing yourself to other parents will only lead to misery and feelings of inadequacy—because we tend to compare ourselves to people we put on a pedestal, not accounting for their human weaknesses and failings.
Instead of focusing on others, focus on what your priorities are for your family and how you can best meet your own expectations. Ask yourself if your expectations are realistic, or are you putting too much pressure on yourself to be some version of the World’s Greatest Mom? If you see areas that truly need improvement, then work on those—but let go of the guilt. It doesn’t help you and it doesn’t help the kids, either.
Kids need parents who love them, spend time with them and help them grow and learn. They just need you and your love and time, not some fantasy version of the “perfect” mom. Be yourself and the best job you can do without worrying about measuring up to anyone else’s family. Your kids will learn that it is okay to be human, make mistakes sometimes and be proud of who they are.
On those days when you just can’t help comparing yourself to others, write down a list of all the positive things you are doing as a parent. You’ll likely discover you are doing a better job than you thought.
Tamara Walker, RN is a talk show host and speaker in Edmond. www.momrn.com.
First of all, you are probably doing better than you think. It is the sign of a good parent when you feel you are not doing enough, but be careful not to compare. Each family has their own unique challenges and personalities. No two families are exactly alike. Often those who struggle seldom let anyone know about it. The perfect family may be far from perfect.
To understand how you measure up, start with the end in mind. What do you want your children to look like as adults? What skills do you want them to possess? Focus on these skills as you parent. When you see them demonstrated, you will know you are succeeding.
Donnie Van Curen, M.A., LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist with Counseling 1820, LLC. 405-823-4302, www.counseling1820.com.
Our Readers Respond:
- Parenting isn’t a contest! You are a unique person parenting unique children and creating unique family memories and identity. Think about your specific parenting goals—spiritual, physical and educational. Then, develop concrete steps of action to help you meet those goals. Love your kids. Spend time with them. Have fun with them. Enjoy the process, and don’t expect perfection.
- Quite honestly, I don’t know a mom who doesn’t feel that way. We’re all guilty of it to a certain extent. I personally think if your intentions are to be the best mother you can be, and you raise responsible, respectable and happy kids, then you should use that as your gauge. To me, if your kids are happy and are thriving well in their environment, whatever environment they are in, you’re doing just fine!
- What works for you, your kids, your family may not be the same as what works for others. Also looks are deceiving. It may appear they have it all together and, in reality, it is all just for show. Stop comparing yourself, your parenting style or your kids—it is like comparing apples to oranges.
- What works for one household doesn’t necessarily work for another. And you must remember children are different. You have to find out what works for your family. If you try to “keep up with the Joneses” then you’ll go broke, insane, and no one will be happy! Good luck.
Thanks to Kim M., Christy K., Kami M., and Neicie L. for your feedback!
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