How To Get Past Feeling Like A Failure As A Parent

woman kissing cheek of girl wearing red and black polka dot top

Most moms know what failure feels like because we’re always doubting our skills as parents. Here’s how to get past feeling like a failure as a parent.


by Jordan Paul | Jordan Paul, passionately passionate about all the passions…and bread, comes at you with spunk and honesty as she’s trying to balance life as a tandem-breastfeeding mom of two girls, small business owner, and non-cleaning housewife. You can find her roaming the aisles of Aldi, mindlessly humming The Alphabet. Follow her on Facebook

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When I misbehaved or said a bad word as a kid, my parents threatened to put soap in my mouth. Any bad word was called a “soap word.” I never actually got the soap in my mouth; the threat alone was scary enough. But now that I’m a parent, I often think, I’d like to sit with a tall glass of soapy water and let loose. Top of my list? That four letter F word. I’m exhausted. I’m frustrated. And when my kids are pushing the boundaries, I can’t help but think of how much more effectively I’d communicate if I could just scream out another soap word we are all thinking… 

FAILURE. 

It’s a word and a feeling, I think a lot of moms can relate to. We go through the fast-food line and then see posts of people serving their kids organic, sugar-free, non-GMO blades of grass and we feel like failures. We turn our kids forward-facing in the car seat so it’s easier to throw snacks at them on the way to practice and then see posts about how we just broke every safety recommendation that’s come out since yesterday. Or we see videos of gentle parenting how-tos and realize that chucking toys across the room to “help them cleanup” was not what the video tried to drive home. And self-care? Forget it. Manicures and girl-time can wait. Your babies need you now. 

“Back in the day,” as every older mom likes to say, things were easier. We got buckled into a leash in the car. They put soda in our bottles. There was no room for comparison mostly because there weren’t opportunities to see what other people were doing. There weren’t labels to designate their actions as successes or failures. So maybe things weren’t “easier” but things were different; unplugged. And honestly, that kind of “different’ does feel easier. 

So, when those nagging feelings come around like, “I’m failing my girls and I should match their college fund to their therapy fund, dollar for dollar”, I like to draw upon my other favorite “F” words.

#1 Fluid

Everything is always changing. What worked yesterday is probably going to be today’s disaster. What was recommended by every three-letter organization last week probably has a warning label this week. Just know that if you’re doing your best and doing it out of love, you’re winning. 

I have come home many times after comparing myself and reading all of the latest research to present my “new parenting strategy.” When I lay out the plan, my husband grins, smirks, and says, “Oh, lovely. This sounds like a grrrreat idea.” 

Will it be forever? Probably not. I will realize that while my kids are filled with toxic chicken sticks and fruit snacks, they’re going to still to be in the same class with the grass-eaters. 

Try it all. Give it a go. Go with the flow. See if anything sticks. If it doesn’t, at least you tried. 

2. Focused

The sooner we can realize that imperfection doesn’t mean failure, the better off we will all be. 

If you’ve lived your life with mottos like “if you’re not first, you’re last” or “all or nothing,” this will be a tough lesson. Just stay focused on the goal of raising good-hearted humans. 

I find that when I get overwhelmed and the feelings of failure creep in, it tends to mean I have lost my way. I have tried too hard to fit into a trend or a parenting style that just doesn’t mesh with my natural instincts. 

For a while, I was a panicked mess when I realized my toddler couldn’t recite the alphabet or sing classic lullabies like other kids her age. I desperately tried to make up for this fatal parenting error by speaking in only lullabies for an entire week. When I came to my senses, I understood that focusing on what she couldn’t do, was taking me away from enjoying all of the things that she could. I was trying so hard to make her spell H-U-G-S that I was missing her sweet little arms literally wrapped around me. 

I don’t want a cookie cutter child. I want my child. 

3. Faith

I try really hard to be all things to all people. And it’s always such a shock when I fall short…which I do, every time. But, I am lucky enough (#blessed) because I believe in a God who actually can be all things to all people. When I rely on Him, I find that not only do the negative feelings of guilt subside, but I find that whatever I’m able to give in my motherhood moments is enough. 

My family just wants me; not my endeavors to be a rising star or the most beautiful woman in the pickup line. They want the best version of me. When I pour out love for my God, I can pour out love to my family. Knowing my identity in my faith allows me to realign my identity as a mother, wife, and friend. 

I’m so hoping, mama, that in moments where you feel like you’re messing it all up, that you realize 1. You probably are, 2. Who the *blank* (bubble, bubble) cares!?, and 3. You’re still the best mama for your kids!

LOVE

NEVER

FAILS. 


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