I was listening to my favorite radio station one day as I drove my hubby to a therapy appointment, and the DJ confessed a major “mom fail” (in her book). She explained that during her 4-year-old’s birthday party, her daughter proudly announced that she was no longer going to suck her thumb. This was very unexpected to her mom who felt the beginning heartbreak of her baby growing up. According to the DJ, she told her daughter in front of all of the guests, that she wasn’t allowed to stop sucking her thumb and wouldn’t get any presents if she did stop. Of course, not too long after she realized the silliness of her actions and took the threat back. The DJ proceeded to accept calls from other mom fails describing their own “mom fails.” One of the callers was very judgmental and arrogant, completely humbling the DJ on her own radio show.
My heart went out to the DJ since I can list a number of “mom fails” from that same week that seriously topped the thumb-sucking event. So I called in. I confessed that just two days before I had bathed my 8-year-old from head to toe with baby wipes. It was a long day of appointment after appointment (for those who don’t know, I am caregiver to my son and husband), and by the time I realized I hadn’t bathed my daughter (who will NEVER volunteer to bathe), it was almost 10 p.m. and I was running on E. So, I grabbed a package of wipes and went to work like any good mom would. The DJ laughed and said I made her feel better, which was my intention. She even blogged about her conversation with me.
This made me think about all of the ‘mom fails’ I have committed. I’m sure you have your own list as well. These fails bring guilt into our lives and torment us day after day, causing us to wake up every morning with a new mission to be a “better mom.” We stress about things such as making sure our kids eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day, or reading 20 minutes with them every night. We must attend mommy and me groups, and don’t forget to brush and floss their teeth twice every day. Don’t allow them to eat sweets and only use detergent specially made for kids’ clothes.
Okay, before I make everyone angry, if you are a mom who successfully accomplishes these things and more, GOOD FOR YOU! I say that from the bottom of my heart, but there are many of us who are just glad when we make it through a day without injuries and broken bones and put them to bed before midnight. The rest of this article is entirely my own opinion. Please feel free to add to this list of what you consider REAL mom/parent fails – however, you would be surprised by how much of a great mom/parent you really are.
Laura’s Opinion of REAL MOM FAILS
Many of these observations have come from my experience as a youth leader and mentor, as well as just my own parenting experiences.
- Not correcting a child at an early age.
A toddler that bites, slaps, hits, and throws things, and is not corrected at an early age can turn into an explosive older child, who later becomes an out-of-control teenager. We all think that toddler who hits is cute or funny, but what are we rewarding? Violence is okay if you want your way. FYI: ignoring this is not correcting it.
- Not teaching a child basic manners: thank you, you’re welcome, please, excuse me.
Children who don’t learn these essential gems will turn into a very unpleasant teenager and adult that will struggle in every area of life. Trust me on this one, I mentored a young person who lacked this basic training and it is so hard to teach a young adult to say please and thank you. This person was not very popular because of the lack of these basic skills.
- Allowing a child unsupervised access to the TV remote control.
Unless you are one of those parents who have a lock on every other channel, this can be very dangerous. Hollywood does not care about age appropriateness anymore – they want ratings. Once a child sees a pornographic image, it is stuck in their heads. This can cause shame and guilt, and when a child is ashamed of something the last thing they will do is talk to you for fear that they’ll be in trouble. Make it clear to your children which channels and programming they are allowed to watch and reinforce it. I, personally, am not a fan of allowing children to have their own TV for this reason, sorry.
- Allowing a child unsupervised access to internet, social media, and the phone.
Please refer to the article: Internet Safety 101: Protect Kids Online. There is no way we can protect them from all of the bad stuff in this world, but we can be in control (to a certain point) as to how fast they are exposed to information. Obviously, they will be exposed to things by friends from school and their phones, which leads me to #5…
- Avoiding certain conversations because they are uncomfortable.
Parents, if we don’t talk to our kids about moral and sexual stuff social media, Hollywood and friends will. It is our choice who we want educating our children, but hint, hint, they were given to us for a reason. Topics need to be a lot more detailed above and beyond the birds and the bees. We have to talk about puberty, dating, sex, masturbation, pornography (hopefully before they are exposed) – what it all is and the harm it can do. Many parents don’t feel the need to address this until they find that one picture their daughter posted online or walk in on their son; by this time, the child is confused and ashamed and may shut down. Discuss the values of the family, establish guidelines and boundaries for their safety. Kids need this information before they go out into the world, and they need it from us parents. Yes, even from us imperfect parents. We can use our past mistakes and experiences as teaching tools. Share with your kids about what you have experienced (obviously considering age and content). They will listen and respect you all the more. I have spilled my guts to the teens and they listened.
- Not knowing who their child hangs out with, messages, or snap chats with.
Parents: we need to wake up and protect our children. Remember, we are not called to be their friends, we are called to be parents. We parent with love, but also with a purpose: to protect them and help them develop into a decent human being that the rest of us won’t mind having around. Privacy and freedoms are earned in my book. Any indication that my child is in danger — whether emotionally, physically or mentally — and that locked door is broken and I am in their dresser drawers, pockets and under the bed looking for clues of what is harming my child, sorry.
- Allowing children to sleep over at friends’ houses without meeting the parents, or even entering the house where their precious baby will be sleeping.
And even if we know the parents quite well, do they open the door to neighbors or other relatives we don’t know about? These are our babies! This is so dangerous! I have had many parents drop off friends of my daughters without even knowing my name. Thankfully, we are not sexual predators, drug addicts, or witches, but they don’t know that. At my very first sleepover I was exposed to porn. My friend’s mom sent us to big brother’s room to sleep (big brother wasn’t there), but he had posters of naked women in very, let’s say childbirth positions, but no head, no baby, just women in stilettos and red lipstick. I was 13 at the time. To this day, my mom doesn’t know. Initially, I didn’t tell her because I thought it was my fault. I felt dirty and ashamed from that point on. My innocence was tampered with.
- Failing to establish boundaries.
These boundaries should start as soon as our babies start crawling. No we don’t touch that, no we don’t go over there, no we don’t put that in our mouth. As they get older, establish limits on TV, social media, etc. Guide them in the way they dress and teach them to dress with value and self-respect, because they are valuable and deserve to be respected. I was mentoring a young lady and during a girly pajama party I hosted we started talking about dating and boys. The age group ranged from 12 to 16. I asked the question: “At what age do your parents say you can start dating?” One of the 15-year-olds said her father always answers “Not until your 40!” and he changes the subject. Parents, how are we to expect our kids to respect our boundaries if we don’t give them boundaries—realistic ones. For example, our daughters are very informed that they can have male friends and even that special friend, but all interactions will be with us around and once old enough, hanging out in groups. They can still get to know each other and talk and sit together, but there is no need to be alone in the dark in a car. Also, we’ve made it very clear that boys are not allowed in their rooms, not even the cousins. Girls only. Once they are seniors in high school, the freedoms are expanded if they are earned. This is our personal family decision; you may have different opinions. If my daughter knows she can start dating at 17, she will be more apt to respect and wait. If I am vague about it, she will do what she wants and could end up heartbroken later on.
- Allowing kids who are out of high school and not going to college or equivalent to lie on the couch stuck to their phones.
We need to prepare our kids as young as middle school that they are eventually going to get a job and learn responsibility. I am seeing so many young and middle adults sitting around waiting for that one dream job. Sorry folks, dream jobs don’t tend to fall into your lap – you work your way up. I started out as a server in a restaurant, had to deal with jerky supervisors, jerky co-workers, crappy pay and horrible hours. Since I stuck with it I formed my character, my people-skills, and my resume and moved on to a better job. I did eventually end up in my dream job, but it didn’t happen because I sat in my room snapchatting, taking selfies and waiting for mommy to make dinner. I started working when I was 17!
These are things that, if not taken seriously, can lead children in the wrong direction in life. I have also seen parents who are well aware of the dangers listed above and their kids still end up in some sort of trouble. Yes, our kids will become adults and have a free will and possibly choose to live as if they were raised by gorillas. However, that shouldn’t deter me from fulfilling my God-given gifts and responsibilities as a mom.
So let’s stop feeling guilty about the pizza we fed our kids two nights in a row or the baby wipe shower. Didn’t read Dr. Seuss to your kids? It’s okay….
Let’s be free to love our children and focus on what is truly important: their hearts and minds. Of course, please feed and bathe your children, this too is good. One more thing: if you feel like you have failed or are failing, get back up, dust yourself off from all shame and guilt, and change directions.
Her goal is to become the type of woman that when her feet hit the ground every morning, the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!"Right now, she is the type of woman that says "Oh crap, I have to get up!" One day at a time!
Did I mention I love coffee?Please join me on my caffeinated journey!