There is so much pressure on you, Mama. An endless stream of advice and books and perspectives- so many voices telling you all the things you should be thinking about and implementing as a parent.
It can be overwhelming and exhausting to try all of these things, and even just to take them into your brain. Between the self-motivated desire to do your best for your kids and the external pressures to parent a certain way, it’s hard to know how to get it right.
You are still a human.
And a mom.
Which means you can’t get it right all the time. You can’t know the perfect way to respond or manage your own emotions in the most appropriate way every time. You just can’t and won’t be a flawless parent.
So, is there any hope that your kid will turn out okay?
Research is showing us that the most important factor in secure attachment and ultimately healthy functioning for a child is actually developed by what you do AFTER you don’t get it right.
Repair – Apologizing to Your Child
Perfect parenting is not the goal. So instead, focus your attention on intentional repair with your children.
Repair is the act of returning to your child and explaining in an age-appropriate way that you recognize an interaction could have gone differently and you love them.
This might look like:
“Mommy is sorry that my voice got louder when I asked you to stop doing that. Sometimes my feelings get big, too. I want you to know that I love you so much. Want to play together for a little bit?”
“I wish that I had responded to you differently earlier. What I really wanted to say is that I know sometimes the limits I set for you can be frustrating, but I’m doing my best to help you grow. I may not get it right every time, but with what I know right now I think this is best. I love you very much and am happy to talk about it if you want to.”
“I’m sorry I did that. Next time I will try to…”
“I think I might have made you feel sad. But I want you to know that I love you. Is there something we can do together that might make you feel better?”
You’ll notice that none of these phrases pretended there didn’t need to be any limits for the child or discounted a necessary disciplinary action. Instead, it follows a pattern of acknowledging that it seems like there was a rupture and ensuring that your child hears you say and show that overarchingly what you feel is love for them. This creates security in your family relationships by instilling the message that you see them, care about their experience and love them. It also models for your kids that it’s normal to not be perfect and how to repair- with you and in other relationships.
As you do the best you can, there is actually some benefit to modeling your humanity through imperfection but continuing to pursue connection with your child by repairing with them in your relationship.
This attunement to your child’s feelings and needs is what research shows will make the longest lasting impact on their healthy development and in your relationship with one another in a typical family dynamic.
Take a deep breath, you don’t have to be perfect! You can be the human that you are- making mistakes and having limited knowledge and capacity. Getting it right every time is not a requirement for being a good parent.
Amidst all the flooding of parenting tactics and approaches, know that even in the ways you lack or miss the mark in your role as Mom and Dad- repair can bridge the gap as you all grow and learn together.
If you are interested in talking through your specific family or parenting experiences, counseling can be a great avenue for inviting objective insight and a listening ear into your world. Contact us to schedule an appointment https://crossroadcounselor.com/contact-us/