I mean, there ARE bad moms out there. And not just ones who neglect or beat their kids--there are other ways to be a bad parent. How would I know if I was one? Because sometimes frankly I think I'm pretty close... when do I cross the line from having multiple bad days or moments to actually just being overall bad?
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How do you know if you're a bad mom?post #1 of 453/5/12 at 6:50amThread Starterpost #2 of 453/5/12 at 6:54ampost #3 of 453/5/12 at 6:56ampost #4 of 453/5/12 at 7:15ampost #5 of 453/5/12 at 7:28am
My definition is similar to the others, if you are questioning it then you are not a bad mother. By questioning you are opening yourself up for reflection and possibly changing some ways. IMO a bad mother doesn't reflect, she just is. We all could do things differently if we have more time, sleep, money, patience, the list is endless. but the vast majority of parents try to do their best with what they have. There will always be bad days, weeks, months, even years.post #6 of 453/5/12 at 7:36am
I don't think that is a question anyone can really answer. We all have different definitions of what makes a bad day or a bad moment. Asking the question is always a good sign
Can you make a list for yourself of the parenting things you are doing that you feel really good about? Then make a list of the specific things you are struggling with, those things that prompted you to start this thread. If you are doing some things that trouble you, try tackling them one at a time. You can't change everything at once. And keep referring back to that first list to see how much you are already doing well. When you have changed behaviour that you believe needed to be changed, add it to the "good" list!
Maybe your expectations of yourself as a mother are unrealistic and too high and you can work on making them more reasonable. Maybe there are some areas you need to work on - the fact that you are asking and thinking about it is good! We all need to do that from time to time.
I agree with other posters that simply asking the question is a sign that you are on the right path but I do not agree that just because someone is asking, then they don't have to worry about being a bad mother. That is often the case but asking can also be a sign that something really is wrong and we are just beginning to realize it.post #7 of 453/5/12 at 8:04am
"Bad mom" is an all-encompassing and debilitating label. Like so many labels, it accuses, it damns, it stops discussion and growth. And it serves no purpose except to belittle and shame. Because think of it...human beings are fluid creatures, always changing, learning, growing (or regressing). There is no fixed thing called a "bad mom."
Being freed from the label can free you to look at your practices, and how they measure up in your eyes. Not against a "good mom" or "bad mom" label, but against your values.
So first, lay out your values. Second, look at your parenting practices and see how each one meets or conflicts with your values. Then if you see any which don't fit with your values, say "I can change that starting NOW."
To label yourself is crippling. Take it from one who's been there.
So, to be specific, here is an example. If your values are to raise loving children who have what it takes to succeed in this world long after you are gone, you can take a look at what that looks like. What tools would get you there, and to what extent do you do them? Like, you want them to be loving, and you know that your being loving will teach them that. So any time you snuggle or kiss your kids, or greet them with a warm smile, you've advanced that particular value. If, in addition to those nice things, you screamed at them to hurry the hell up getting dressed, you forgive yourself and maybe you even talk to your kids "Sorry kids, I wasn't very loving toward you just then. I'm going to try real hard to do better." You would then be (a) doing a very loving thing by reconnecting honestly with them and (b) you'd be modeling just how THEY can do the same when they act out.
Take it issue by issue without the value judgements, and before long you will be moving your parenting along in a better direction, because NOBODY thrives under harsh judgement. Nobody. It wasn't set up like that in nature. ((hugs))post #8 of 453/5/12 at 10:17amStart with the basics....
are the kids fed, clothed and adequately slept?
do you have some positive interactions with said children during the day?
or if not....
have you provided adequate "other care" so that the kids are having positive human interaction during the day?
If you do have these bases covered, I'd look into what makes you feel like you are getting it wrong? Is the house too gross and dirty? Do you not have friends or playdates over? Is your support systems a parent inadequate for emergencies?
Good luck!post #9 of 453/5/12 at 4:45pm
I know moms who are trying really, really hard, but they are just bad Moms. One in particular has so many issues that she just absolutely cannot handle her children most days. She's a bad mom who knows it, and is trying to get help...but, help is actually really hard to come by.
I know other moms who think they are the most awesome, perfect moms in the whole world, and they think they are doing it all right, when they aren't doing any better than the moms who are just barely getting through each day.
If you aren't constantly angry at your kids... if they aren't walking on eggshells waiting for you to snap, then you are doing a good job... if they are fed, clean, warm, safe, then you are doing a good job.
If they are frequently hiding in a bedroom, or trying very hard to avoid you, or if they are often cold, hungry, or in danger, then maybe look for some help.
There's a lot of grey area between kids sleeping outside the strip club, and kids who's mom can whip up a Bento lunch that looks just like Hello Kitty. Most of us fall in the middle somewhere.post #10 of 453/5/12 at 5:27pmpost #11 of 453/5/12 at 8:22pm
I think it is very unlikely that you are a "bad mother." Look at your strengths in parenting as well as your weaknesses. We all have moments where we feel like we've really screwed up, or bad days, or rough periods in our lives. But if your kids' physical needs are met and they feel loved and secure, I think you are doing ok. That's the minimum and I bet that you are doing more than that.
Early on in parenting I had the blessed realization that I was not the only influence on my daughter's life; she had her daddy, grandparents, and would someday have teachers, friends, etc. She was going to find what she needed from others as well as from me, thank goodness.
Also, guilt is unproductive. Easy to say, I know, but if there is something bothering you about how you are handling things, take some time to figure out a way to change it. Take some quiet time to think or write about it, or read one of the parenting books out there that can actually be helpful (as opposed to those that just make you neurotic!)--I like the Positive Discipline series and many other folks have recommended Siblings without Rivalry.
Last, other stressors can make parenting much harder. Are there any stressors that you can reduce or eliminate in your life? Or even just think of things in a different way (for me, an example would be that I tend to obsess about being on time, but really, it doesn't matter if we're a few minutes late and it is actually counterproductive to get into a power struggle with my 3 y.o. when we are running late. etc.)
If there are changes in your children or elsewhere in your life that might be triggering this question, ask yourself what else might be responsible. Your own feelings and reactions might be a manifestation of some other problem (for instance, if one of your kids is acting out because of a rough school situation.)
Hope that helps!post #12 of 453/5/12 at 8:28pm
unless they are 12.
I've wrestled with the "am I a good enough mom" question a lot myself. My mom thought she was a good mom, but she wasn't. In huge ways that effected my sister and I deeply.
I've been at this mom thing for 15 years and I still don't know the answer. What was "good parenting" when they were babies was really different than when they were small children, and different again to being a good parent to them now that they are teens. I'm not the perfect mom, and sometimes I feel like I'm floundering around trying to figure things out. I didn't have great role models for this family-life thing going up (which relates to a lot of book reading and message board participation).
Sometimes I handle a situation one way, but later reflect and think how I would handle that same situation given a second chance. I usually get the second chance, and I've done a lot of personal growth through parenting.
I try to keep it real with my kids -- no pretending that I'm All Knowing. I try to remember that their feelings are always valid. All feelings are accepted, but not all actions. I try to speak to them in ways that are respectful. I don't get everything right, but my kids know that they are unconditionally loved. They know I've always got their back.
(and I cannot pack cute lunches.)post #13 of 453/5/12 at 11:30pm
i learnt this from my own experience.
i held a lot against my mother all these years. its only after i became a mother that i discovered that really my mom was just trying to do the best she could. and yes she tried. and i always knew she loved me. but she made mistakes which i am now able to forgive.
so no matter what i do - it really depends on dd to decide if i have been a good mother or not.
so what i focus on is what i feel in my heart. i try to do the best i can with love in my heart.
however dd is only 9. i feel like parenting has been just a cakewalk. and the real stuff doesnt start till 13.post #14 of 453/6/12 at 4:36amQuote:
I disagree (and my kids are 13 and 15). One of my DDs was most difficult as a toddler, the other at age 12. I think it really depends on the child. The teen years do have their own set of challenges, but in so many ways I found them easier than what came before. BUT I think the effort of AP, GD, and all the rest is really paying off. I think that the teen years with a child who has been raised in the mothering.com way are a very different deal for both parent and offspring than a they are for a child who was raised in a mainstream way.post #15 of 453/6/12 at 5:39am
I just looked at your other threads, and at your sig.
You have two little children and one of them has special needs. You post questions about how to deal with these needs, which is how I know that. You are advocating for him all over the place. Your most recent thread about your other kid is about how she's wetting the bed, an age-appropriate behavior that you really need like a hole in the head right now.
You are not a bad mom. You might be a burnt-out, tired, discouraged mom, the kind of mom I would want to pat on the back, a mom who needs a break sometimes.post #16 of 453/6/12 at 6:54amThread Starter
Thanks, I really really wasn't looking for a pat on the back but I am feeling better about how I don't think I've ever made my kids hide in their rooms from me. Little victories, you know. I do think I have a "touch" of depression--seasonal... which will hopefully lift soon. If it doesn't by the end of March I'm going to go see if I can get some help for that.
I'm curious about the people who said they knew moms (sometimes their own) who thought they were good moms, but weren't--can you elaborate?
It's funny how much of parenting is just a response to how you were raised. I just realized this weekend, for example, that DH probably plays video games with DS because he wishes his dad had done that with him (while I wish they would go outside together---that's probably not registering as a "need" as much because it's something DH got a lot of growing up).post #17 of 453/6/12 at 10:11am
I feel this way so much, but I know that I am not a bad mom. I have days where I feel like I do it really well, and days where I'm a colossal mess. Probably 90% of the time I'm a mediocre mother, and that is actually hard to maintain. But it's good enough. At the end of the day my child has been fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved and that really is enough.post #18 of 453/6/12 at 2:01pmQuote:
In one case (she gave up control of the kids to her parents, so it's all good) Her kids are 3 and 5.
Mom loves her kids more than life it'self.. but, she's always in such a dark place... it's all she can do to go to work. She lets them fend for themselves, and never cooks meals for them, or gets them dressed in the morning. She screams at them all the time, and has to force herself to say something nice to them. When she does, it's with an insult. "that's great that you got your own shoes on... I wish you'd do that every day instead of crying for me to do it". When they get home, she goes to bed, and doesn't see them again until the next day.
But, on the great side, she KNOWS what she's doing is wrong. She's tried every treatment available, and nothing worked, so she moved back in with her parents so they could basically raise the kids and she can try to find out what is wrong with her. So, she's not a bad mom... but, she can't really be a good mom right now without help.
My own mom was a TERRIBLE mom, yet, she was a great mom at the same time. She let us run wild. I often ask her if she had more than just two kids, but misplaced the others. We make jokes about how dumb she was. (things like leaving the carseat WITH the baby on it on top of the car and driving away) She did things that today would get us taken away forever.....but, we had the BEST childhood ever. We had freedom, and adventures, and so much fun... it just wasn't with my mom because she was heaven knows where....but, I wouldn't trade my childhood for an overprotected childhood.post #19 of 453/6/12 at 3:32pm
It's all about definition: I've been told I was a bad, even abusive, mom because I wouldn't bite my toddler hours after she bit another kid at daycare.
Here's what I think makes me a good mom:
- I keep learning about parenting. I read magazines, e-articles, discussion forums like Mothering.com, etc.
- I have made a decision about what kind of parent I want to be. 90% of the time, I actively strive towards that. 10% of the time, I let DH take over.
- I have made decisions about specific parenting actions I want to take. I follow them pretty well. I adjust them when I see new information that calls for adjustment.
- I want my kids to not just SURVIVE; I want them to THRIVE. While most of the time, I spend my parenting hours treading water (so it feels like), I also make an effort to go that extra mile when the opportunity presents.
- I give myself permission to take mini-breaks.
- I remind myself (and DH) that parents don't get to clock out for the day. We are always "ON" and that means we need to pace ourselves. We don't get to check out of our kids' lives for more than a few minutes at a time (bathrooms with locks, anyone? grown-up times?), and even then we can't completely ignore them. We have to keep an eye/ear out for signs of disaster.
- When it's time to pay attention to the kids (we do this at supper every night), we actively pay attention. They get their time, even if it is more brief then they would like.
It's not the BEST, but I have limited personal and financial resources, and I do what I do. I have to be happy with that and continue to strive towards an abstract "better".post #20 of 453/6/12 at 4:51pmQuote:
My mother saw to it that I had a picture perfect middle class upbringing -- with piano and tennis lessons, church, private school etc.
She also knew that my father was sexually abusing me for years and did nothing about it.
She truly thought that how our family *looked* from the outside was more important than the experience of what it was like to *be* in our family. She also once said that "status is a basic human need."
In all fairness, she did the best she could and I have forgiven her for her role my having grown up in a nightmare.
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