Do you ever look back on something and think, “Man, that is totally going to screw up my kids!”
Maybe it was relationship choices. Maybe it was discipline (or lack of). Maybe it was your chronic mental health issues.
Either way, one of the biggest fears that most moms have is that they’ve totally screwed up their kids in some way. Like we OBSESS over it sometimes!
No matter the mistakes parents make, the reality is that – eventually, kids WILL learn from it.
But here’s the thing – what they learn isn’t always what we think!
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The Result of the Mistakes Parents Make
As moms, we continually fret over everything about our kids. And I do mean EVERYTHING! We are so busy worrying about every little detail of whether we’ve mapped out the most awesome and productive journey for them that we often totally miss out on enjoying that journey! Instead of enjoying the mess, we beat ourselves over every step of the way!
- Am I showing them enough love?
- Was I there enough for them?
- Did I give them too much responsibility?
- Did I not give them enough responsibility?
- Do this because…
- Don’t do that because…
And when we do (or don’t do) something that we feel is a mistake, we enter into a seemingly non-stop conversation with ourselves of –
- “If only I’d done this…”
- “If only I didn’t do that…”
- What if…What if…What if?.
This was me for a very long time! But I eventually realized there are 2 very different endings to this movie of life!
What We Think Will Happen
I used to worry about how my choices and decisions were going to impact my kids later on in life. I have 2 really great kids – each born to a different father. With my son, we did get married right before his birth, but that was short-lived and after a lengthy custody battle, my son stayed with me and has literally seen his father less than a handful of times in his now 23 years. I never married my daughter’s dad. He skipped out right after she was born and she has never met him.
My biggest fears were that I wasn’t creating a good example of what a family should be like. I wasn’t teaching my son how to be a man (you know, because I’m a woman). I wasn’t teaching my daughter about healthy relationships with men. I wasn’t…I wasn’t…I wasn’t…
This, along with all of my other parenting fails (according to my own mind), I worried that
- My kids would repeat my mistakes in relationships.
- My kids wouldn’t feel loved.
- My kids wouldn’t do well in school because I couldn’t be there to help with homework (because of work).
- My kids would resent me for my choices and decisions.
- My kids would repeat the same cycle that I thought I was born into (poverty and dysfunctional relationships).
I think all moms have this movie that plays over and over in their heads of how their story is going to play out.
Yours might be
- If I don’t do this, my kid won’t get into the best college and will never get a good job.
- If I don’t stop yelling at my kids, they will hate me forever.
- If I don’t get my kids in church, they’ll never know God.
- My kids think I’m a hypocrite because I tell them one thing but I do the opposite.
Regardless of the mistakes parents make (or think they are making), these things can literally consume your every thought!
But you know what? The actual version of that movie usually plays out much differently than we imagine!
What Really Happens
The problem with moms is that in our effort to do the best we can in raising our kids – we often totally miss the mark! We get so caught up in creating this perfect journey to a perfect ending that we completely miss out on the wonderful journey of motherhood. And we totally miss what is truly happening on this journey. We totally get the ending wrong!
My kids are much older now. My son is 23 and my daughter is 15. As I look back at all the mistakes I thought I made and the results I had expected from those mistakes – I was delightfully disappointed!
I was so focused on my mistakes and the (what I thought was) inevitable negative outcome, that I didn’t see all the good that did come from my past choices and decisions.
What really happens while we are obsessing over the negative?
You will see the good that came from your mistakes and the lessons you learned from them. You’ll see that even the worst mistake (according to you) can be seen completely different from how they see it.
Yes, some of them may repeat your mistakes! But sometimes this is the best way for them to truly learn and grow from it (like you did).
But many of them will see what you did and choose to take a different approach or make a different decision when their time comes.
Kids watch everything – good and bad. We get so consumed with the bad things (the mistakes) that we don’t realize they are also watching the good things we do.
- showing kindness
- being charitable
- being respectful
- learning the value of hard work
- helping a friend in need
What Happened When I Was Consumed with the Negative?
I realized that I was so busy worrying about the negative while my kids were focusing on something completely different! I was so consumed with the idea that I was a failure as a mom!
It isn’t that they didn’t notice some of the things that I did or didn’t do. But they didn’t focus on it or see it as some life-changing thing that was going to screw them up forever.
Yeah, they’ve probably picked up some of my bad habits (which I prefer to call personality traits), but they’ve also become their own person.
I didn’t raise my daughter in the church – but she surely loves Jesus! She is the one that went to church first (and I followed). And I know understand that how my kids turn out really has nothing to do with but everything to do with God’s plan for their lives!
My son didn’t go to college – but he is the most hard-working and kind-hearted son a mother could ever imagine.
My kids don’t look at me with disdain for not providing the perfect family situation. But what really is “perfect”? Our home is full of love! I’d say that is pretty perfect!
My kids are respectful to me and to others when I’m not around.
Overall, I’d say that while I was busy screwing up my kids – I was actually (by God’s grace) raising them to be kind, loving, and hard-working members of society!
Take Heart Dear Frustrated Mom
Dear overwhelmed and frustrated mother, all you can do is the best with what you have at the time. The truth is that ALL moms think they are messing up their kids at one time or another (some more often than others).
But in the end, your kids will make their own way – for better or for worse. The mistakes parents make are simply a part of this journey and they don’t dictate the outcome of the story!
So stop fretting over what might be and start enjoying the ride while it is happening because, before long, they’ll be gone and all you will have are the negative memories that you’ve filled your mind with!
Be sure to also read 11 Powerful Ways the Enemy Attacks Women
What things did you stress over regarding your kids that ended up turning out quite the opposite of what you had anticipated?