As a parent, I'm sure you've gone to bed feeling like the "Worst Parent Ever". You're not alone and I wanted to write about feeling this way.
I’ve been writing blogs about Kailyn, life, and parenting and after reviewing them, I realized it sounds like I have it all figured out. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The actual truth is that more times than not, I feel like the Worst Parent Ever.
Good Days & Bad Days
But then there are days when I go to bed defeated with no reward, wondering how I failed so badly. I don’t think that I’m alone as a parent with these feelings, but it still feels shitty.
Every parent has good days and bad days. Some nights I put Kailyn to bed, crack open a beer, and light up a cigar. I deserved it. I kicked ass as a parent and deserve my ”end of the day” reward.
It’s important to acknowledge the bad AND the good parenting days because they’re both part of becoming a better parent tomorrow.
In business I do something called a +/∆ which is like a military After Action Review (AAR). I talk about the things that need to change (the ∆) and also equally important, I talk about the things that went well (the +). Here’s a link to a more formal definition of this if you’re interested: https://www.igi-global.com/dictionary/use-story-building-online-group/22865
After rough days, I review in my mind all of the things that went wrong and what I need to fix to make them right. Often, it’s a matter of not having enough time to do what I needed to do. Other times its just utter failure at parenting. These nights I feel like the worse parent ever.
This process for me isn’t as formal as it sounds. In fact, most of the time it’s don’t in my head subconsciously. But the thing I try and emphasize is to focus on the “+”. Often times I’m too hard on myself and need to remember to cut myself some slack. I can’t figure out everything all at once, so as long as I’m identifying any issues and tackling them one by one, I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.
I’m guilty a lot of the time for not taking stock of the good nights and remembering to note what I did RIGHT as a parent. If you take one piece of advice from this particular blog, it should be that it’s important to feel as proud of the “good days”, as you do disheartened of the “bad day” of parenting.
There’s Always Tomorrow
The good thing about parenting is that there’s always tomorrow (at least for the most part). Most everything that I beat myself up over is fixable . . . in most cases on the following few days.
I realize that this phrase doesn’t work in reality for EVERY issue, but for the majority of the issues I face, I can always do better tomorrow. On nights when I go to bed thinking I’m the worst parent ever, I try and formulate a plan for the next day. I then compose a way to try and rectify the situation. The first thing I do in the morning is make things right.
In my household, I make it a rule that we don’t go to bed upset with each other. This isn’t some genius rule Kailyn and I have . . . and I’m sure that most of you have the same rule. While there’s always tomorrow to fix what’s broken, I still prefer to go to bed on a positive note.
Keeping this rule in mind, I think you’ll find that most of the conflict that you want to “fix”, isn’t often even on the radar of your children. A lot of what I want to “fix” is in my headspace, not theirs. I think that’s a good thing which leads me to my next point; it’s ok to fix something that’s not completely broken.
It’s Okay To Fix Something That’s Not Completely Broken
The fact that you’re trying to resolve issues that aren’t full blown issues should tell you you’re doing a great job. Wanting to create a full, happy life for our kids isn’t something unique. It’s something we all share in common.
I wrote in a previous blog titled Life Isn’t Perfect, that our job is to create adults who are capable of handling life’s imperfections. Looking at our kids lives with a magnifying glass is a good thing. There are unlimited issues that we need to prepare our kids to deal with.
Identifying issues that might be a problem in the future is part of our job. When running my business, I try and manage ALL foreseeable issues immediately. By doing so, any issues I don’t see will be more manageable when they arise. I do the same while parenting.
Bearing The Burden
One of the things that weighs most heavily on my heart is my divorce. I come from a divorced family upbringing and always aspired to do better for my daughter. This was the hardest reality for me when my ex and I split up. Kailyn would never know an “intact family unit” and I blamed myself. Still do.
I won’t rehash some of the topics that I wrote about in previous blogs and I’m aware that it takes “two to tango” and am not alone at fault for my divorce, but that doesn’t matter one iota in Kailyn’s eyes. I’m responsible for 50% of the fact that she’s being raised in two different households, and that’s 50% more responsible than I ever wanted to be.
From talking to a lot of you single parents out there, I’m not alone here.
Just the fact that I’m doing this as a single parent makes me feel like the worst parent ever. I’m not dating anyone, and don’t plan to anytime soon. I wish that I could just fall into another relationship, but that’s just not me (this is a separate blog topic in itself). This is another burden that I must bare. I’m going to do this parenting thing alone (for my part of the custody timeshare).
I wish I had some good advice on how you can feel better about this situation. But, I don’t have anything to say except that I accept this, and try to deal with it the best I can.
2 Happy Parents Are Better Than 2 Unhappy Parents
I honestly believe that Kailyn is better off with two happy divorced parents, than she would have been with 2 unhappy married parents. My ex moved on very quickly, and I’m still trying to figure relationships out. As much as I blame myself for the dysfunctional marriage I was in, I’m happy Kailyn won’t remember it.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not that Kailyn will never remember my ex and Me together. Sometimes I wish she did. We had some very good times as a family and I keep those memories close to my heart. But I’m glad I’m not still married. I’m not sure I would have had as much one on one time with Kailyn if I still were.
It’s counterintuitive to think that I could be thankful for my divorce, but I am. Kailyn and I have shared so many moments and experiences that we wouldn’t have, had I still been married. Selfishly, I’m happy for this.
I’ve said this to my friends and I almost feel bad for saying it out loud. For Kailyn, I’m sad her that her mom and I aren’t in love. But I’m not sad at all for all of the time she and I get to spend together. I wouldn’t give these memories and conversations back for anything.
The amount of one on one time I get with her now is an awesome thing. As a husband, I played “second fiddle” to my ex. I was there to support her if she needed it. As a single father, I’m what I call a “full-time, part-time” Parent. Meaning that I’m full time, 1/2 of the time. I can’t say I don’t enjoy this arrangement. The time off helps me reset my batteries and the time with her is one on one time. Let’s just call this, looking at the glass “half full”. 🙂
I think Kailyn is the sum of all of her surroundings. Her mom and I are a big part of those surroundings, but kids have other influences also. I don’t think it’s fair to blame ourselves as parents for EVERYTHING.
As one of the major contributors in her life, I just try and have a net-positive impact on her. I’m going to make mistakes. But as long as I make positive impacts on her life, then I think I’m headed in the right direction.
Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to keep score in a game that’s ever changing. I have to stop and remind myself that this isn’t a game and Kailyn’s not keeping score. So why should I?
All that Kailyn expects from me is good advice, safety, and a shit-load of hugs and kisses. The rest is up to her. That’s scary, but true. I just need to be a net positive in her life and then watch her conquer the world!
This is becoming a common theme in my blogs. Just Be Present. Be there to listen. Listening is my strongest weapon I use in parenting. Listening to her tells me how to react. Sometimes I don’t listen enough and need to step back. Over time, I think this is the skill that I’ve grown the most on. I’ve become a very good Parent-Listener.
I’ve said one of my favorite quotes in life is “People teach you how to treat THEM”. If you adapt this to parenting, I’ve found that Kailyn tells me how and what she needs. I just need to listen. Kids are a mystery and till probably get more complicated as we head into her teenage years. But, by listening to her and being present in her life, I think I’ll have enough input points to be a positive influence to her.
In the end, I guess being present means both listening as well as being physically there for Kailyn.
Make Course Corrections
I compare parenting to a ship sailing across the ocean. If you let the ship go on its current course, it’ll sail directly across the sea from point A to point B. But if you make tiny little course-corrections over time, the ship will end up MILES from the direct path it was on. If you wait till right before the ship arrives to land, you have to make HUGE changes in its course with little impact on where it lands.
Parenting is the same thing. I make tiny little course-corrections and over time they have a huge impact on who Kailyn is going to be. I don’t want to wait till later, because no matter how huge of an impact I try to have at that time, it’ll have little impact on where she ends up.
This is one of my favorite analogies. I can literally see a ship sailing towards and iceberg and me trying to change the ship’s direction. I’m wearing a white sailors uniform and hat if it helps you picture what I’m imagining. 😂😂😂
Worst Parent Ever
I’ll wrap this blog up by saying that you’re not alone if you’ve felt this way. I feel it all the time. But that’s what makes me want to do better. I hope that you can relate.
I’ve found that a good glass of wine, a movie or some music, and someone to talk to is a good cure for feeling like the Worst Parent Ever. I’m always around if you need to talk to someone.
Good luck to all of you out there doing the best you can under your own special set of circumstances. Reach out if you need someone to listen. I’m always around (if I’m not on a plane heading somewhere).
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