I know you have “those” days. I know your heart is riddled with guilt. I know that you yelled too loudly or shouted mean words or feel at the end of your rope. I know that sometimes you fantasize about running away and I know that you feel pangs of guilt when you realize the intensity of your glee as you imagine being on a deserted island all by yourself. I know that you think you’re screwing up your kids.
I know that you’ve made seven thousand and sixty-two mistakes today and it’s only 10am. I know that you were less than enthusiastic to see your small child crawl into your bed at 5am. I know that you’ve developed a caffeine addiction, eat chocolate in secrecy, and demonstrate all sorts of hypocrisy as you tell your children they can’t snack too close to dinner while you, yourself, are gnawing on one of the carrots you just peeled (or the leftover pizza from the fridge!).
I know that some days, maybe most days, you feel ill-equipped to parent any child, let alone a higher needs child. I know that some days, maybe most days, you feel drained, battered, bruised and you fear how closely you’ve come to completely losing it with your children because of this. I know that your brain whispers fallacies and the gut-wrenching lie that you are an awful parent.
But, I also know that you are doing the best you can. I know that you are giving your all and then-some. And I know that you are, indeed, a good parent.
How do I know all these things? Because I’ve felt them myself. More times than I can count.
How else do I know all these things? Because I have the privilege and honor of walking alongside many parents in the sanctuary of my therapist office, where people can let their guards down and share their own truths. I have witnessed amazing parenting that encourages me to up my own growth game and I have witnessed horrific parenting that ignites my inner one-woman rescue mission in which I want to scoop the kid up and bring him or her home with me. Mostly, I witness parents just like you and me who try desperately to love their children well and sometimes fall short.
But that’s exactly how I know that you are a good parent. Because you are trying to love your child well. Because you feel guilt when you fall short. Because you consider your child’s experiences, you love your child, you want the best for your child, you understand your child is a small human with worth and challenges and gifts. You are currently reading a blog about parenting. You are, indeed, a good parent.
In addition to specializing in differently wired kiddos and families, my other passion is walking with people as they heal from trauma. Being a trauma therapist means I hear a LOT of awful stories. And while this can be heartbreaking and I wish no child or adult had to experience the things I have borne witness to, I am so very grateful for the impact this has had on my life.
I know what bad parenting looks like. I know what type of parenting scars a person. And I know that the truly bad parents are the ones who don’t even try to see their kids. They are the ones who are so caught up in their own muck that they abuse and neglect over and over again without holding themselves at all accountable. They are the ones who intentionally blame, victimize, disregard, humiliate, degrade and terrorize their children. There are parents who don’t try to learn more about parenting because they don’t really want to be a parent anyway. There are parents who are incapable of love.
And while I wish those parents didn’t exist, I am grateful that I have been honored to walk through those stories. On the days when I feel the farthest thing from parent of the year, I can put my mistakes into context. Because they are mistakes. I am not maliciously intentional. I try to do better and there are parents who could care less.
You care. You love. You are trying to understand your child and trying to learn how to parent them even more effectively. You are a good parent.