Nourish your child's emotional health

How to Recover from a Parenting Fail

How to Recover from a Parenting Fail


Fail.  How do young people say it these days?  Epic Fail!  You can spell that D-a-n-i-e-l-l-e.  I remember a family vacation out in Vail, Colorado when I was about 16.  I had the bright idea to rent a pair of rollerblades for the afternoon.  There isn’t much to my memory.  I recall the sun was practically blinding and the mountains all but enveloped me as I walked to the local shop.  I didn’t know how to rollerblade, yet, I found myself barreling down a paved street full of people thinking to myself, “I didn’t ask the rental guy how to stop!”

So I did the most sensible thing I could do at the moment and I threw myself over the curb and let the green grass work as my buffer.  In other words; I ate dirt!  Flat on the ground and laughing with relief that I didn’t take out any of the elderly nearby, I got up; took off my blades and walked back in my socks to the store.

Rollerblading with no previous experience and with no real way to stop myself is like parenting.  Too many times to count, I have found myself plowing through full-steam ahead and wondering, “How in the world do I hit the brakes?”

You can have the best of intentions.  You can read every gentle parenting book available.  You can meditate.  You can pray.  You can soothe yourself with dark chocolate and a warm bath.  No matter how hard you try otherwise; you are going to have a parenting fail.  There isn’t a way around it unless you are Gandhi or Mother Theresa, of which I am neither.  So I guess for now, I will have to sit with the fact that I am a normal human being, who is going to fail.

So when you screw up; you fail…how do you recover?  Well, unlike the rollerblades, you can’t take your kids back to the store.  So you have to search out more reasonable options.  You call your girlfriend!  You open the floodgates and admit your mistakes out loud.  Something about owning my worst moments to another person frees me up to move forward.

Now, you do not call the girlfriend whose worst parenting fail is her child came in second at the spelling bee rather than first.  You call the friend who is honest with herself and honest with you.  Someone who has worn the same rollerblades.  Someone who, like you, wants to put on the brakes but has enough self-awareness to realize sometimes a girl is just going to do a face plant over the curb and that is okay!

So, call that girl.  Vocalize your faults.  Own it.  Process it.  Hang up with your girlfriend and talk to your child.  Apologize for not remembering how to use the brakes.  And put the damn blades back on.