A friend of mine sent me a message recently saying “See I told you we were bad parents”. It was in response to her daughter throwing a temper tantrum and how they handled it. The thing is, while the whole thing played out, all I could think was “This could be my house on any given day.” Her message did get me thinking about what makes a person a bad parent?
Are you a bad parent if you give in to your child’s tantrum?
What happens when you go hide in the bathroom for 5 minutes? Bad parenting?
Are you a bad parent if you smack your child’s bum?
If you dream of bedtime and move it 20 minutes earlier so you can eat your hidden stash of chocolates?
Or what if you breastfeed them until they are 4?
It is 6h45 and you have just realised you have forgotten the 24 cupcakes your kid needs for school so you grab some from Spar (or you write an apology note). Do you win bad parent of the year award?
What happens if you throw some flings in a bowl for Sunday night dinner? Bad parenting?
You did your kids Grade 1 homework project (but you did write like a Grade 1) are you a bad parent?
If you answered yes to any of these, then I am going to assume you are not a parent or you are extremely judgmental.
None of these things make a parent bad! They make them a parent.
We are so quick to label ourselves bad parents (and other parents) when in reality making the kids make their own sandwiches for Sunday night dinner is not bad parenting.
The thing with parenting is that it is not a one day game, losing one battle will not ruin your child’s life (unless it is not strapping your child in). Yes there are books (piles of books) that will tell you otherwise, google will give you 10 signs you are a bad parenting (including bribery, which makes everyone I know a bad parent). Guys I call bullshit on it ALL!
We need to stop saying we are bad parents when we mess up. Messing up is how we learn, no child ever grew up an asshole because you forgot to buy cupcakes for school or because you smacked his backside a couple of times. You aren’t a bad parent because you missed a soccer match or you said no to your kid’s request for a fourth bowl of ice-cream.
Parenting is hard, some days it’s harder than others and on those harder days when you child goes to bed without a bath or a belly full of marshmallows, it is OK. You are not a bad parent, you had a bad day. Barack Obama has had bad days, he has messed up – is he a bad president? I don’t so! Kate Middleton was pictured recently giving her kid the look (you know the one, it says “SORT OUR SHIT OUT RIGHT NOW”). Does that mean she is a bad parent? Nope, although she probably got sent straight to “How to be a better princess” lessons by the queen.
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