We all do it…
(Or so I tell myself.)
We hit those moments as parents when we feel completely inadequate. Unqualified. Unfit. Like maybe there’s been some kind of mistake.
It might hit us when we scroll through social media, or see other moms out with their kids; the moms who always seem to be doing more…smiling more…looking better… Being better than we believe we are.
Or it might hit us when we blow it and miss a school activity, or we parent in anger, or just feel like we don’t have what it takes to parent well. It’s easy to get down on ourselves then and wonder if maybe God chose the wrong person to raise our kids. Surely there must be a more qualified person for the job.
In the last week alone I have been humbled in front of my boys twice…Scolding one son for losing my debit card, only to turn around and lose one myself while on Maui…and then after years of enforcing a “no beverages at the computer!!” rule, it was me, (SuperMom) who clumsily spilled my Pumpkin Spice Latte all over my laptop computer while working at Starbucks yesterday. Humbled, indeed.
Times like these can make me question my calling and feel really inadequate.
So believe me when I say: I have wrestled with plenty of doubts and insecurities throughout my parenting journey. Yet now, seventeen years into momhood, I have become a bit more familiar with the drill. And (thankfully) the mind games and insecurities don’t take me down quite like they used to. I have grown a little better at knowing when to pay attention, (and perhaps make some adjustments,) and when to shrug off the self-doubt and carry on.
Because we want an honest evaluation of ourselves and how we’re doing as parents, right? I mean, as much as I enjoy a nice pat on the back (even if I’m giving it to myself) I don’t want to live in denial, telling myself everything is groovy if I’m actually blowing it as a mom.
Yet if we listen to all of the ideas and opinions that surround us, we are sure to end up insecure, and overwhelmed. Contradictory advice is everywhere.
So how in the world can we feel confident about what we’re doing as parents?
Well, first of all I think it’s ok to accept that this is an on-going challenge. It’s human nature to doubt ourselves and struggle with insecurity. (In other words, don’t get down on yourself for getting down on yourself. haha.)
But it really is possible to parent with confidence! I’m not talking pride or ego here, just a grounded, mature confidence.
And the best way to do this is to have a set of basic guidelines to return to each time self-doubt comes knocking.
Here are five simple principles for parenting with confidence:
1. Follow timeless wisdom, not cultural trends.
In my seventeen years of parenting I’ve already seen plenty of parenting trends come and go. And the truth is: Whatever is trending for moms today, probably won’t be in a few years. Save yourself time and energy and focus more on the things that do not change: Sound principles. Common sense. Timeless wisdom.
You might turn to some experienced, older women that you trust and ask them the questions. Sure their opinion might be outdated on some levels, but most of the time you’ll gain some wisdom nuggets that will be invaluable. Keep perspective. Don’t let yourself get derailed over thinking details of parenting that don’t really matter in the big picture. Instead consider principles like: What is loving…What builds character…What goals am I working towards? And, Am I balanced and reasonable in my parenting?…
Then learn to let a lot go. You’ll love the freedom that comes with getting back to basics.
The book of Proverbs is one of my favorite places to turn to for timeless wisdom. A chapter each day of the month (there are 31 chapters, so perfect right?) is a great way to stay grounded in wisdom. The 31st chapter describes a wise woman who has stood the test of time…
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” (vs. 25)
That’s how I want to be.
2. Stay out of the comparison trap!
Theodore Roosevelt said it plainly: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We know that is true, yet it’s still so easy to measure ourselves against people who seem to have their act together. Don’t believe it; we’re all imperfect parents, trying to find our way. (Some people just fake it better than others…)
The truth is, comparison will always end in one of two false beliefs: it either gives us a false sense of pride, or it will leave us feeling inadequate. Neither one is any good. So get those eyes back on your own life and your own family, and don’t even allow comparisons to creep in.
Here’s what you must remember: God chose you as the mom for your kids. No one could be a better fit for the job.
I was reminded of this last weekend when my friend’s little girl tripped and fell down. She got the wind knocked out of her, but with the little bit of breath she could gather she instantly wailed: “I NEED MY MOMMY!” At that moment she didn’t think about whether her mom was as smart, cool, or put together as the other moms. She wasn’t comparing her mom’s wardrobe, SUV, or kitchen cupboards with anyone’s. All she knew was her mommy could make her feel better. Her mommy was all she wanted.
And your kids just want their mommy too. At two and six and sixteen; it’s you they want. So just be you for your kids.
Be sure of your personal convictions and always strive to parent well. But do it for the sake of raising great kids, not to keep up, stack up, or add up to what anyone else is doing.
If certain friends, social settings, or even social media triggers your insecurities, you might want to step back for a while, and regain perspective. Comparison is a dead-end road.
3. Believe in Yourself
Recognizing the unique qualities that you have to offer will build your parenting confidence. There is no such thing as super mom, but all of us have some kind of super powers. Stop and think about what yours are! Some of you are funny, others are amazing cooks, dancers, organizers, or money-managers. Whatever you are good at will in some way shape and mold your kids! This is a huge gift and you should be proud of it. Encourage your spouse to do the same. This is what gives your family its own flavor, its own brand.
None of us will be great at everything, and that’s why (thank God!) there are other influences in our kids life. (And why we should be smart about helping them find the good ones.) We’ll have a lot more joy if we give up on perfectionism and just enjoyed being ourselves more. Learning to laugh at ourselves, and not take ourselves too seriously is a great example to our kids as well.
4. Trust yourself as the expert of your children
When it comes to your kids, you are the expert. No one knows your kids better, or cares about them more than you do. Always listen to your gut and be prepared to be your child’s advocate. Sure, it is important to seek advice and professional help when you need it, but really nothing compares to the heart of a parent who cares deeply about their children.
Often it is moms who know what their kids need before anyone else. Knowing their hearts, we often sense when there is problem or something to be concerned about. I often pray asking God to show me what each of my boys might need most now. What a privilege to have this role in our kids’ lives. Embrace it.
5. It’s never too late to parent better.
There is a difference between false guilt and a true conviction over an area you need to work on. If you’re struggling with feelings of guilt or shame, take time to determine the source. If you find your feelings are based on comparisons or insecurities, let them go and keep moving forward. But if you are struggling with guilt and regret over areas you’ve really messed up in, then I encourage you to deal with it. Get help, pray, seek counsel, and put the time and energy into growing in whatever area you need to work on. You’re worth it and your kids are definitely worth it.
The good news is that we can always have a fresh start, and our kids are usually very willing to give us second (and third, and fourth) chances. Our confidence doesn’t need to stem from a perfect track record in parenting, but in our humble desire and efforts to be great parents.
I’m pretty hard on myself, and have had to sort through both ridiculous false guilt, and legitimately lousy parenting. Either way, one of my favorite verses to return to is Proverbs 24:16:
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again.”
Of course we can apply this to any area of life, but definitely in our parenting, we need to just keep getting up!!
Remembering these basic truths should help all of us parent with confidence. Keep grounded in who you are, stay humble, and enjoy the ride!
I’d love to hear from you in comments! Have you struggled with confidence in parenting? Have you found any helpful ways to combat that? What grounding truths or principles do you return to when self-doubt comes knocking? I’m sure your story might encourage someone else, so please share!
ALSO: If this post has encouraged you, I would be so honored if you would use the social media share buttons below to share it with your friends! Mahalo!
With much love and grace,
Books I recommend: