Empty Nest Reflections
With my son’s college graduation looming closer, I’ve found myself reflecting on the parenting missteps that I made. Parents will understand that there are monumental times in our child’s lives that cause us to reflect on their childhoods.
I’m not a new empty-nester but I still struggle with the emptiness sometimes.
I remember that day we dropped our son off at college like it was yesterday. The pain and pride were heavy in my heart. And truth be told, it STILL is. I can’t believe that the college years have gone even faster than high school.
Still Learning From My Parenting Missteps
22 years of experience and I’m still learning how to parent. There were so many things that I did really well. Yet, there were many parenting missteps as well.
I definitely stumbled but also learned. Sometimes I had to apologize. To myself and to my son. Some of the issues were trivial; some quite emotional and serious.
Here are some of my parenting missteps:
- I used videos to help keep my son calm so that I could tackle household chores. At a very early age, I owe a lot of free babysitting to Bear, Luna, and friends. Yep, “Bear in the Big Blue House” was one of his favorites.
- There were times I yelled at my stubborn teenager rather than first calming the situation so that we could talk. In the end, it was our conversations that made all the difference.
- Video games kept him occupied while I was working. I should have policed more often.
- I got involved in many of his activities. Maybe too many? Room Mom, Book Fair Chairperson, Marching Band Volunteer, and more.
- Friend drama caused me to go all Mama Bear. Girlfriend drama was even worse.
- I should have cooked more healthy meals.
- I helped him out of situations that he probably should have tackled himself.
How to Move Past Your Parenting Missteps
Don’t despair. There are ways to move on from your mistakes.
Start by recognizing your parenting misstep.
2. Ask yourself why it happened.
Did your anger get the better of you? Were you too busy to take notice? Be honest, then move on.
This seems simple but sometimes it’s the hardest step. Giving yourself forgiveness is especially difficult. Show your child how to seek forgiveness by saying sorry to them when the situation calls for it.
4. Have that conversation.
Saying sorry and skipping this step isn’t fair. You want to listen to how your parenting misstep affected your child. Or you may want to discuss with your spouse how it affected them or yourself. You won’t truly learn from your past behaviors until you discuss them and really listen to your loved one’s responses.
After moving through steps 1-4, it’s time to learn from your mistake. Parenting is a life-long journey of learning and teaching opportunities.
How will you do better next time? What will you do differently when faced with the same (or a similar) situation?
7. It’s time to move on.
As you traverse your way through those hard steps, reaching step 7 is your goal. Release yourself from the guilt — this is a gift to yourself and your family!
For further information on parenting issues, check out the American Psychological Association’s Parenting Resources.
All of our parenting stumbles are life lessons. It’s how quickly we learn from them that really matters.
New and experienced parents need to apologize when a situation calls for it. Especially when dealing with those teenage and early adult years. During this time, your blunders and the conversations that follow can definitely shape your future relationship. And yes, I’m proud that my son is one of my best friends.
We can measure our worth as a parent via our missteps. Or by the lessons that we learned.
Your Turn to Share
What parenting missteps did you learn from? Are you still agonized by these mistakes?
Hi! As you read my articles, you’ll find out that I’m truly passionate about my family. Parenting has been my greatest heart-challenge with all the joys and pains that come with this special journey. I’ll admit (sh! don’t tell Michael) that having a behavior analyst in the house has been quite helpful. Happy reading!