Imagine if enough parents gathered in a room and honestly raised their hands if they felt they were screwing up their kids. Every single hand would raise. The problem with being a modern parent is that everyone seems to have an opinion on how to do it. Within five minutes online, you may feel as though you've doomed your kids to disease, death or endless years of therapy (for which, of course, you'll be billed), but much of that guilt is misplaced.
Here are five things making you feel like a heaping pile of parent failure that really won't hurt your kids in the long run. Seriously.
Skipping extravagant birthday parties
Ah, to live in a world before Pinterest. When did birthday parties become a competitive sport? Renting bouncy houses for one-year-olds? Hiring a zoo of animals? Planning and decorating for months? Some parents love throwing extravagant parties for their kids, and more power to them; however, for the rest of us planning impaired parents, a simple celebration is not the end of the world. Kids are happy with gobs of sugar and a new toy or two. Everything else is optional.
Feeding our kids sugar
Speaking of sugar-laden birthdays, there's an enormous amount of pressure to police our kids' sugar intake. Healthy diets are a worthwhile goal, but refusing to let our kids taste sugar is setting them up for future failure. Like it or not, sweets are a part of our world, from parties to holidays, so we can either teach our kids to enjoy in moderation, or they're going to go nuts the second they're out of our sight. Feeding your kids the occasional treat probably does more good than harm when you look at the big picture.
Attending public school
Sure, there are some issues with our current school system (I don't know any parent who's thrilled with standardized tests), but we've reached a point where we look down on parents who choose public school. Considering most of us went public and turned out just fine, maybe we should save the righteous indignation for famines and natural disasters. If you want to teach your kids at home, that's cool. If you can afford private school, awesome. If your kids go to public school, it's not going to kill them.
We all do it, and we all know we're not supposed to. Sometimes, dinner needs to be cooked and showers to be need taken, and the only way to do it all is with a little digital babysitting. Either you can beat yourself up for being human, or you can do your best to limit time in front of the tube and then relax. Besides, what would your kids talk about at public school all day if they missed out on yesterday's cartoons?
Though none of us like yelling at our kids, it's not going to land them in therapy for the next few decades. Parents are human too, and we make mistakes. Sometimes, those mistakes result in less than stellar parenting, and they give us an awesome opportunity to model the art of apologizing. Telling our kids "sorry" is a powerful way to build trust with even the youngest child.
Parent guilt — we've all been there, and we'll all feel it again at some point. But guilt shouldn't rule our lives or dictate our parenting choices. If we're doing the best we can, we are doing enough. Kids are incredibly resilient, and it's going to take a lot more than a few minor mistakes to do any real harm.