Handling Your Inner Parenting Critic
I was talking to a friend the other day who is also a therapist. We were catching up and talking about some of the things going on in our lives. As we were talking about our kids we began discussing some of our more challenging and less than flattering parenting moments (yes….even parenting coaches have these moments). With all of my training and experience as a therapist and coach, I still have moments where I too struggle. I am tired, I am frustrated, and I am human.
As we were exploring those moments where we felt we should have done something differently I realized that we can be extremely self-critical. We were dissecting various moments, analyzing and it just struck me how critical we can be as parents. We can ruminate on what we should have done differently, get bogged down with guilt that we yelled, you name it, we can beat ourselves up over it.
While some ability to critique ourselves can be helpful (this is after all what allows us to do better next time) ,it is not helpful if it causes us to feel defeated, incompetent, and stuck. The key is to be aware of our responses and our shortcomings but to work to do better without ruminating on what went wrong. Below are a few suggestions to assist you:
1)Give yourself a break. While noticing where you could have responded differently is helpful, be kind to yourself. We all have moments where we struggle. Notice how it makes you feel, honor that feeling, and then move on. Move on to #2 as you begin to let it go.
2)Come up with an action plan for next time. You can’t change the past only the way you will respond in the future. Come up with a plan for how you will manage similar situations differently. This helps us improve our parenting in the future.
3)Realize that your children may view the situation differently. This was made very clear to me after I had a challenging parenting day and felt that I was agitated and frustrated all day long. I spoke with my daughter at bedtime about the day and shared with her that I wish I hadn’t been so cranky and apologized for being frustrated all day long. I asked her if she noticed that. She said no and went on to talk about what a great day she had.
4)Apologize. If you still feel like you wish you had done something different, there is nothing wrong with apologizing to your children. Take a few minutes to talk to them and own your mistake. This is a great way to model for your kids how to apologize and to show them that everyone, including parents, can make mistakes.
5) Reach out for support. If you still feel like you need more assistance, reach out for support. Contact a friend who you trust, process with your partner, or reach out for professional assistance. Learning to manage our own inner self -critic will benefit both you and your children.