How to Not Feel Like a Failure as a Parent

It's easy to feel like a failure as a parent when your kids are acting up, but it's not something you should allow.

When your child brings home a bad grade or his teacher calls to request a meeting with you to discuss his misbehaving in school, you might feel like you’ve failed. While you’re intelligent enough to realize that your kids are going to misbehave and they’re far from perfect, it’s easy to feel as if you’ve failed in the parenting department when they get in trouble, do something wrong or embarrass you or themselves. It’s not uncommon to feel like that, but it’s not productive or useful.

Know that you are doing your job and making your kids more successful, productive and able to deal with the difficulties of the real world when you say no, advises Phil McGraw, talk show host and behavioral expert. For example, say your daughter comes home from school upset because she’s the only one in her group of friends who did not receive a new car for her 16th birthday. Instead of feeling like a failure as a parent for thinking that a five-year-old sedan was a good choice for her first car or for not being able to afford something more extravagant, know that your daughter has an advantage. Kids who are given everything they want without working for it are not learning the value of money, hard work or reality. Your daughter will learn those lessons because if she wants a better car, she needs to get a job.

Do your best and be proud of that. Maybe your best varies from day to day, but that’s OK. If your child goes to school today wearing two different socks because you overslept and didn’t have time to check her out before you rushed out the door, that’s OK. Tomorrow she’ll go to school wearing matching socks. If you have the flu and her dinner consists of cereal and potato chips, don’t feel like a failure. As long as she eats well most of the time, you’re doing your job ensuring that she doesn’t go to bed hungry.

Stop comparing yourself to other parents. So what if Jill’s mommy is thin, has perfect hair, perfect arms, perfect makeup, a clean car and she and little Jill always look perfect and behave perfectly in public while you’re lucky you even had time to brush your teeth this morning. As long as your kids are healthy, happy, safe and taken care of, you’re doing a great job as a parent. Feeling like a failure because you don’t think you measure up to Jill isn't productive. After all, you don't know what Jill's life is really like.

Get a life. According to Lisa Firestone clinical psychologist and author, living your own life is a good way to prevent you from feeling like a failure as a parent. Not only does living your own life in conjunction with parenting make you happier, it helps your kids learn to balance life and family. For example, if you dedicate every minute of your life to your kids and don’t take time for yourself, chances are you'll be disappointed and maybe even a bit resentful of your family. Get a life and live it, and you’ll feel like less of a failure.

Be a good role model for your kids, advises Firestone. If you don’t want to feel like a failure as a parent, be a good role model. When you know you’ve done everything you can to show your kids what being a respectful, moral and decent human being is, you won’t feel as much like a failure when your kids do something wrong. For example, if you scream and yell at your kids all the time and they turn around and treat their siblings the same way, you might feel like a failure as a parent. However, if you don’t behave that way and they do, you won’t feel like a failure because you did not teach them that. When you know that your kids are going to make mistakes and that they aren’t perfect, you’ll be well on your way to eliminating feelings of failure.