When you’re a new mom and you have a sweet little blank canvas of a human in your care, it’s easy to dream about all of the great ways you’ll parent your child. And, really, parenting is kind of easy at first—you’re really only meeting your infant’s most basic needs. Then, as they get a little older, the real job of modeling good behavior, teaching them right from wrong, and showing them the world begins.
My kids are teens now and, certainly, my job as a parent is far from over. But, as I think back on all of my days of parenting so far, I have some parenting regrets. These regrets are nothing major, but there are certainly little things I wish I’d done more of, done differently, or, frankly, just not done at all.
I reached out to some of my mom friends and asked them to share some of their parenting regrets. What I compiled are probably universal regrets (and truths) that you might relate to. So, here is a short compilation of a few parenting regrets to remind you that you’re not alone in having some parenting disappointments, or maybe to help you avoid some of the regrets of others:
“I regret every time that I lost my temper with my kids.”
Sure, we’ve all been there, but remember that there is much value in modeling the art of a heartfelt, thoughtful apology to our kids after losing one’s temper.
“I regret not taking that cross-country road trip.”
When the kids are tiny, the idea of packing up the minivan and driving for miles upon miles seems daunting. But, it’s hard to dispute the sense of adventure and togetherness that a road trip can bring, as well as the chance to skew off course and find hidden gems along the way. No road trip is easy, but I’d be willing to bet that what the kids will remember won’t necessarily be the destination, but instead, the journey.
“I spent too much time cleaning when my kids were little.”
Kids are messy and if you’re the type who likes to keep a tidy home, raising kids will likely encroach upon your OCD tendencies. This friend shared that she wishes that, instead of cleaning all the time, she would have spent more time taking her kids to museums, playing with them, and letting them (and the house) get dirty, instead of constantly worrying about the messes they were creating.
“I wish that I had made more time to go on dates with my spouse to show my kids an example of a healthy marriage.”
Kids are time- and energy-consuming so date nights with your spouse can often feel like more trouble than they’re worth, but there is so much value in letting your kids see a healthy and fun marriage in action.
“I wish I would have mended fences with my estranged family sooner so my daughter could have gotten to know her grandmother better.”
It’s hard to straddle the line between protecting our kids from those who have hurt us in the past and forgiveness. When it’s all said and done though, you have a chance to model the breaking of cycles and healing past hurts, and that is about as valuable a lesson as any.
I don’t think that anyone survives parenthood without a few regrets. Any parent worth their salt doesn’t want to screw this parenthood thing up, but in the process, we’re bound to make mistakes. But, the worst mistake we can make as parents is to be too afraid of making mistakes that we miss out on the experience of hands-on parenting—and that would be the biggest regret of all.