Remember those clueless, pre-baby days when you said things like, “I would never act like that in front of my child,” or “I would never be that parent”. Then parenthood came knocking and you realised – gasp—you weren’t all that perfect a parent after all!
Parenthood is a different experience for everyone who embarks on it, but one thing is a given – despite our best laid plans to be amazing and failure-free for our little ones, we will screw up from time to time. The good news is that you’re far from being alone when it comes to parenthood and its inevitable shortcomings. In fact, you’re part of a pretty ginormous club called, “all parents make mistakes.”
Parents are humans after all, and it’s only through our failures that we learn life-long lessons that make us better, plus we pass on these lessons to our littlies. So, let go of those unrealistic parenting expectations and embrace the following “good mistakes” you will eventually make!
1. Fighting in front the kids
They say you should never argue in front of the kiddos for fear that they might be exposed to negative feelings and actions. While it may make sense in principle, it may also be good to show them how to handle such situations since they will encounter them sooner or later. Of course, if you and the hubs are about to enter a screaming match while the kids are around, stop immediately. Otherwise, if it’s a disagreement you’re facing, model to the kiddos how adults work it out in a calm and mature manner. Having their little eyes on you also means you will have to act like adults, in other words, no door slamming, screaming or eye-rolling – well most of the time, at least.
Parenthood is a different experience for everyone who embarks on it, but one thing is a given – despite our best laid plans to be amazing and failure-free for our little ones, we will screw up from time to time.
2. Having junior repeat something inappropriate you said
Never thought you had to be accountable for everything that flew out of your mouth until you had a toddler who could repeat them ad verbum, did you? “Once, mid-way through a really hectic day I remembered I had forgotten to do something very important and without thinking twice said, sh*t,” says Joyce Linggam, 28, mum to 3-year-old Evan. “For the next two days, Evan’s response to anything interesting or surprising was, yes you guessed it, sh*t.” Joyce – just like many parents who have been in the same position – then learnt to speak appropriately in public and apologise when her tongue slips.
3. Not playing with your child every second of every day
Playtime with your peewee is a great way to bond and get to know each other better. However, if you’re constantly your child’s playmate, you will inevitably find yourself telling him how to play with a certain toy or game. This discourages him from honing his creativity, plus he will never learn how to play independently and feed his sense of wonder. So, the next time junior wants you to play with him, don’t feel guilty about saying no or for nudging him to play on his own. You are doing him a world of good, plus you get to enjoy a few minutes of me-time!
4. Allowing the kids to eat off the floor
We’ve all been there: One minute the cereal is in the bowl, the next minute it’s on the floor and your tyke is right next to it, stuffing fistful of cheerios (and dust and dirt) into his mouth. “The first time it happened I was alarmed at what I had allowed my daughter to do, but it happened so fast I couldn’t stop her,” says Jenny Tan, 40. “But it didn’t lead to anything bad and she was fine after that, so when it happened subsequently, I didn’t mind it so much.” A little bit of dirt doesn’t hurt anyone. Same logic goes for when your tyke eats sand in the playground, kisses a dog’s mouth or tries to eat his shoes. Besides, science does say that exposing your child to dirt builds immunity, right?
“I realised something I hope my son did too that day, that you don’t get what you want by raising your voice.”
5. Yelling at the little ones
Kudos to parents who say they’ve never raised their voices at their children. For the rest of us human beings, it will happen at one time or other. Just to be clear, we’re not condoning yelling at your child, but should the situation arise – usually when your munchkin is having a mother of all meltdowns you just can’t handle – you’ll learn a very important lesson. “I once yelled back at my 2-year-old who was having non-stop tantrums all day,” recalls Suzanne Lim, 35. “He looked petrified and I felt guilty instantly. I learnt something I hope my son did too that day, that you don’t get what you want by raising your voice. Now, I do it less often, and my parenting style has definitely evolved.”
6. Letting junior cry it out
Just to be clear, never allow your little one to cry for long periods of time alone. Even when it comes to sleep training, experts urge parents to not leave their children wailing in bed for more than 10 minutes at a time. That said, sometimes kids, just like adults, need to let off some steam. Shedding tears doesn’t have to be a negative experience, like most adults make it to be. Many times it’s very therapeutic and helps you process your feelings. Haven’t you felt better after a good cry? Same goes for your tyke. So, don’t be too quick to pacify your peewee or distract him the next time he’s upset. All he might need is a shoulder to cry on.
7. Trusting every parenting source available
Your first few months of parenthood is one big haze, made only worse when you realise you know absolutely nothing about raising a child. So, it’s easy to second guess yourself, listen to everyone’s advice (even the unsolicited one dished out by the aunty in the bus) and turn to Dr Google for reassurance. “After some time, I realised just how conflicting the advice I was getting was and not everything worked in my situation,” notes Khatijah Ibrahim, mum to Adam, 5, and Aaron, 2. “Some mums were also forcing me to do things I didn’t want to and I ended up doing some which I wish I hadn’t. But I’m glad I learned from my mistakes and didn’t repeat them for my second child.” While it’s mostly trial-and-error, parenting does get easier and you will feel more confident about making your own informed decisions with time, so hang in there folks!
Being a parent comes with so much pressure, especially when your every move comes under scrutiny, usually by a total stranger.
8. Judging other parents
Being a parent comes with so much pressure, especially when your every move comes under scrutiny, usually by a total stranger. It’s easy to “tsk-tsk” at the mum who shoves her mobile phone in front of her toddler to keep her busy, or the dad who feeds his children McDonald’s for dinner. But here’s a sobering thought – while you’re busy judging a parent, you’re also being judged by someone else. None of us have this parenting gig figured out, so it’s good to cut everyone some slack. That mum may just want a few minutes of peace to finish her lunch and the dad could have just come off a 12-hour shift with no time to prepare dinner. We are all fighting our own battles, so let’s be gentle with each other.
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