Lots of moms are hard on themselves and it isn’t productive. You can change your thought process and turn the narrative around.
“Maybe I’m Just A Bad Mommy…”
This statement makes my heart hurt. Sometimes, I receive emails from mothers: “What if my kid isn’t complex. What if I’m just a bad mom…”
If this is a frequent or loud thought in your inner world,
- Validate how much you really want to be a good mom. The doubt wouldn’t be so loud inside of you if the desire for change wasn’t so great.
- Accept that what is happening in your home right now is not ok with you. It makes you feel like you are bad and that is not ok.
- Commit to one small (so small you cannot fail) step you want to take to figure out what is not working or to help it get better. This may be more support for you; it may be an assessment for your child to understand what is making them so behaviorally challenging or it may be just writing on a piece of paper “I want this to change.”
From the mothers who email me these are the top reasons they tell me that they feel like a bad mom:
- “I’m really not consistent”- this usually means “I am stuck in a type of parenting that is just not working for my child”: probably the most common cause of this feeling for mothers is a child who isn’t listening and parents who got the well-intended aytza that chinuch= clear rewards, clear consequences and consistency. When this doesn’t work, parents get the feedback that they aren’t being consistent enough and it’s true: no one is consistent with a child who melts down or shuts down 90% of the time parents stick to their guns. Usually the child has some sensory sensitivities of missing skills that are preventing him from being able to listen and until those are addressed pushing harder will just lead to power struggles.
- “I lose it too often with my kids. They learned it from me.”- this usually means “I am expecting way too much of myself; I live exhausted, burned out, constantly at the edge of nervous system overload and so it’s inevitable that a straw will break this camel’s back.” I believe mommies who say they lose it too much, but too often the approach to remedy this is to yell at themselves, rather than hire a babysitter and nap, swim, read, paint or have a cup of coffee with another adult human. We all have a nervous system, and uncared for, it will go into some version of fight, flight or freeze when it is overtaxed.
- “I had a bad childhood, so I don’t know how to do this.”- this usually means “I so desire for my children to have a better childhood than I did that I live with incredible pressure to be the mother I didn’t have.” If you didn’t have a great, or even good childhood, that does not mean you need to be perfect. It does mean that you need a good role model to help you put things in perspective. No one’s childhood is perfect and, often, these mommies need permission from someone they trust to let things be messy, otherwise the pressure is overwhelming.
If you read until this point, you have my haskama: you are NOT a bad mommy. Bad mommies don’t sit around reading full articles about how to be a better mommy:) You may, however, be overstressed, under-supported, exhausted, burned out and/or putting a lot of pressure on yourself.
“I want this to change.” If nothing else, write this on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere you can see it. You may not know what the change is yet; at the very least, it is a much more helpful thought than “Maybe I’m a bad mommy…”
Read more articles from Dr. Bass here!