Being a parent is a challenge. Many of us think we can achieve it all; work full-time, parent full-time, volunteer, and still have time for fun activities in between. Consequently, we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. At times this can cause a lot of stress, which can end up causing a lot of stress for our children. It can be much better to accept our limits, and do the best we can without feeling as if we are stretched too thin. Acknowledging that we can’t do it all can free us from the idea that we must do it all, and allows us to reach out to others for help where we need it.
Accepting this belief is the first step in learning to forgive yourself as a parent. I certainly went through all the stages that I described above. But I quickly learned that I could not do it all, and reached out to friends and family for their support. I also realized that what was important was not to focus solely on the “great days,” nor the “not-so-great days,” but look to the “OK days.”
When your child has a disability, your life is not simple, but you must remember: You’re allowed to have bad days. You’re allowed to be sad. You’re allowed to lose your patience. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t. You must forgive yourself for being an imperfect parent and recognize that tomorrow is a new day.
No one can ever learn all the things it takes to be a perfect parent, but we can try to forgive ourselves for that, as well. Self-compassion has been shown to assist people with traits that are important to parenting. It increases resilience and coping skills, and enhances perspective, forgiveness and compassion for others.
Practice mindfulness and positive thinking. Instead of focusing on emotions like guilt, conflict, worry and pessimism, identify and work to strengthen gratitude, forgiveness, and optimism. This has helped me through my challenges. I hope my thoughts might help you as well.