Apr 10, 2012

When you feel like a bad mother

Sometimes the boys are particularly challenging and there are many times when, after interacting with them, I start to question myself and to feel like an inadequate mom. I know I'm not the only one out there, so here are a few tips for recapturing some equanimity:

Have a sense of self-worth that's independent of  your identity as a mother - I think this is the most important tip of all, because the more your sense of self-worth is dependent on your sense of accomplishment as a mother, the harder you will take it when things aren't going well with your child. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself and on your child. So have something else in your life that makes you feel good about yourself, whether it's a career, volunteering, or something else.

Do something you enjoy and that you're good at - I'm thinking of things like cooking, gardening, exercise, scrapbooking, etc. Like the first tip, this one restores your sense of well-being without requiring anything from your child. It will also help give you some distance from the problem event.

Think about your child's positive traits - Once you have some distance, it's easier to remind yourself about all the things you love about your child, which makes it easier to forgive their transgressions and to think objectively about how to proceed.

Talk to someone you trust for another perspective - Your partner, a good friend, your child's teacher, or even your child's pediatrician can provide some much-needed reassurance, a more objective perspective, and maybe suggest some new tactics to try with your child.

Think long term - Remember that this too shall pass. In 10 to 15 years, your child will be an adult - hopefully one who is happy, able to take care of him or herself, and makes good decisions. And all of the angst you feel now will be but a distant memory.

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