When you think you have failed as a parent

By on July 27, 2010

Let’s face it: parenting is, has been, and always will be the most difficult and important job in the world!  Parenting can be a very rewarding experience when things are going well, but when things go awry, parenting can make you feel like a failure, causing or attributing to parental burnout.   

 

Many of the reasons why parents experience burnout is because they unintentionally experience specific irrational beliefs and values related to issues of parenting.  Unless these beliefs and values are identified and dealt with, these parents will continue to experience burnout. Below are a few irrational beliefs and values that many parents struggle with daily.  

 

One of the most common irrational beliefs and values that some parents experience is that discipline changes behavior.  On the contrary, discipline does not change behavior.  Discipline can only act as a pathway to appropriate behavior and a deterrent for inappropriate behavior.  The reason why discipline does not change behavior is because we have free will to behave and think as we choose. No one can force us to behave and think differently.  Discipline encourages children to think and behave differently but ultimately, to the dismay of many parents, it is up to the child to decide. 

 

The second irrational belief and value that some parents experience is the need to change or alter their disciplinary approach when they feel that their current approach is ineffective.  The problem with this is that many children manipulate their parents into believing that discipline is ineffective especially if their parent has a history of changing or giving up on discipline. 

 

Although it is important for parents to consider changing their disciplinary approach especially as their child gets older, it is important for parents to stick with one disciplinary style if they know that the discipline is effective with children.  Parents need to be one step ahead of their child by not giving in or giving up to their child’s manipulation. 

 

The third irrational belief and value that some parents experience is refusing to discipline their child, fearing that he/she will hate them. It is important for parents to understand that though it is alright to maintain a friendship, it is more important to establish and maintain a parental relationship with their child – meaning that regardless of how their child feels, it is necessary to enforce discipline.  

Many children manipulate by refocusing their misbehavior through expressing anger toward their disciplinarian.  When children state that they hate their parents as a result of discipline, they are using the word hate as a mechanism to avoid being disciplined.  The only reason why they choose to say this word or similar words is to get the desired reaction from their parent to avoid being disciplined.  

When parents cry, yell, cuss, change, or discontinue discipline, their child automatically learns that this specific word can be used to manipulate their parents.  Therefore, it is best for parents to ignore or simply consequent their child for inappropriate verbalizations instead of taking their child’s behavior personally.  When parents refuse to take their child’s behavior personally, their child will eventually stop making inappropriate verbalizations when disciplined.   

 

And finally, many parents struggle with the irrational belief and value that if their child misbehaves, they must be a bad parent.  If you are doing the best you can in raising your child, you are definitely not a bad parent.  Many parents say and do the right things while enforcing effective discipline and still end up raising disrespectful children who fail to follow rules and abide by social norms.  Should we say that this inappropriate behavior is the fault of the parents?  I think not.  It is normal and natural for parents to feel protective of their children and ultimately take responsibility for their misbehavior.  However, taking responsibility often leads to frustration, parental burnout, and feelings of failure as a parent.  It is our job as parents to have our children take responsibility of their own behavior.  Just because your child chooses to misbehave clearly does not mean that you are a bad parent.  

 

In conclusion, my recommendations to parents who are currently dealing with burnout and feelings of failure is to recognize and deal with any irrational beliefs and values, refuse to be manipulated by your children, and never give up and never give in when disciplining.

 

Mark Lakewood, CEO of Building Strong Families National Seminars is a distinguished parenting expert, author, and speaker with over 20 years of clinical experience as a mental health therapist.  Mr. Lakewood has an extensive history providing therapy services to children, adolescents, and adults. 

Several years ago, he developed and facilitated an effective parenting program for parents of strong-willed children that gained local recognition. This program taught parents strategies and techniques to help them effectively manage their children’s behavior.  Based on this program, Mr. Lakewood later created the Sudden Compliance Program and is currently offering it as a DVD/downloadable video series and as a webinar series.

About Mark Lakewood

Mark Lakewood, CEO, is a distinguished bullying prevention and parenting expert, author, and speaker with over 20 years of clinical experience as a family therapist. He provides clinical and consultation services to school personnel and students on issues of bullying and behavior management. He facilitates the “Standing Up To Bullying” Conference. www.standinguptobullyingconference.com Several years ago, he developed and facilitated an effective parenting program for parents of strong-willed children that gained recognition. This program taught parents strategies and techniques to help them effectively manage their children's behavior. Based on this program, Mr. Lakewood later created the Sudden Compliance Program and is currently offering it as a DVD/downloadable video series and as a webinar series.