How do you know if you're a bad mom? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 06:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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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#2 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 06:54 AM
 
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IMO, if you are questioning it, you aren't...

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#3 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 06:56 AM
 
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IMO, if this is a worry of yours, you're probably not a bad parent :)

 

We all have rough days or weeks. Of course, I don't know the specifics of your situation, but wanted to send some reassurance- I think we tend to have high expectations for ourselves that aren't always realistic.


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#4 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 07:15 AM
 
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Agree with pp. I don't know what your definition of a "good mom" is, or what your standards and expectations are for yourself. Unfortunately, some think that if she isn't a perfect mom, then she is a bad mom. If you are struggling, however, I hope you can find some support and help. 

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#5 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 07:28 AM
 
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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. 


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#6 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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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 smile.gif

 

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.

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#7 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 08:04 AM
 
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"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))

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#8 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 10:17 AM
 
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Start 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!
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#9 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 04:45 PM
 
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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.

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#10 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 05:27 PM
 
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Words to live by!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post

 

 

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.



 

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#11 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 08:22 PM
 
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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!

 

 

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#12 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 08:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by nextcommercial View Post


If they are frequently hiding in a bedroom, or trying very hard to avoid you,


unless they are 12.  wink1.gif

 

 

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.)

 

 

 

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#13 of 45 Old 03-05-2012, 11:30 PM
 
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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. 


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#14 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 04:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post
i feel like parenting has been just a cakewalk. and the real stuff doesnt start till 13. 


 

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.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#15 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 05:39 AM
 
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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. 


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#16 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 06:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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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). 


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#17 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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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. 

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#18 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 02:01 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qestia View Post

 

 

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?

 


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.

 

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#19 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 03:32 PM
 
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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:

  1. I keep learning about parenting. I read magazines, e-articles, discussion forums like Mothering.com, etc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. I give myself permission to take mini-breaks.
  6. 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.
  7. 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".


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#20 of 45 Old 03-06-2012, 04:51 PM
 
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Qestia View Post

 

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?

 


 

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.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#21 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, really really sorry for what you went through. :(

 


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#22 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 07:08 AM
 
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Beyond not abusing or neglecting my kid, I had a single litmus test for how I was doing. I say "had" because now I'm not sure it's the right test! 

 

I never felt confident that my mom loved me, and I want my son to feel confident that I love him. Whenever he seeks me out for comfort when things go wrong, I feel like I must be doing it right. 

 

I do worry sometimes that I am screwing him up anyway. I'm not a perfect person. Maybe under all the closeness is a different kind of unhealthy relationship than the unhealthy relationship I had with my mom at this age. At least I'm making my own mistakes. 

 

Like Meemee, I feel like the first nine years have been relatively easy. I would like to delude myself that's because of what I'm doing, but I'm pretty sure it's the kid. 


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#23 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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I think that if you are looking for better ways to do things, acting out of love, getting help when you need it and doing better when you know better, there's not much more that anyone can ask of you.  no one always does things 'the best'.  Fortunately, kids are resilient, and I think that if they know they are loved and they know you are trying your best to do right by them, a lot of stuff can be forgiven. 

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Your kids will tell you. When they get bigger. energy.gif

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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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#25 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 12:47 PM
 
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I thought my mom was a great mom, but some of my siblings disagree, charging her with not setting enough limits, and letting another sibling get away with things, etc etc. I have been speaking to my mother frankly about these things lately since she is living with me at the moment helping me with a new baby. My 3 yo has demonstrated some horrible behavior. 

 

She expressed regrets about not setting enough limits, but i told her i had a happy childhood, and had no regrets, and always  thought she was a great mom. I told her i liked setting my own limits.   

 

So, different children can experience  the same mothering in a different way. There were five of us. 

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#26 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 03:43 PM
 
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I also think...none of us are perfect and probably none of us have perfect parents. But if you can say that your parents loved you and tried their best...I really think issues we have as adults belong to us and not to our upbringing, if that makes sense. Some people choose to forgive their parents their foibles; others don't. 

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#27 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 05:49 PM
 
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Bad mom here.  So don't worry.  I work outside the home and have been told that I'm a bad mom.   I didn't cloth diaper so I'm pretty much a failure.  I sleep with my kid so, GD, I must be lazy or a bad mom, or both.  I practice gentle discipline and my child is destined to be a seriel killer.  There are things I didn't do and do and by most standards, good lord, I'm a bad mom.  I get frustrated with my kid and my DH and my life.  Straight to hell in a hand basket.  

 

 

 

I'm a human being.  Guess that makes me inherently bad.  Original sin and all the shite.  (I'm not even christian but the guilt permeates all strata).  


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#28 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 06:09 PM
 
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I agree with all said and I am pretty sure you're a good mom.

 

OTH, I joke about since being a parent the things I have been judged on IRL and on mdc....I didnt go back to work after dd1 was born. The moms I knew with new babies who did, gave me glaring looks.
I was a sahmom for 10 years. I used sposies so that is bad. I used cloth so then I was weird. I coslept and that raised eyebrows. I stopped when dd didnt want it anymore and that was detaching. I nursed dd1 until she was 2 1/2. That was weird. Then dd2 weaned at age 12 mos and that was detaching. People found it strange dd1 never received an ounce of formula.  DD2 needed supplementing and it was taboo on mdc. Also the emergency c secttion I had to have to save her life. So now entering my 11th parenting year, I found it amusing last week when a funny blog was floating around on fb...

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josette-crosby-plank/french-parents-better_b_1281984.html

 

For what its worth, I LMAO reading it.


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#29 of 45 Old 03-07-2012, 08:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Qestia View Post

...when do I cross the line from having multiple bad days or moments to actually just being overall bad?


I think it all about what you do when you realize you are having bad days. Do you take some time for yourself to re-group? Get the kids out of the house to do something different and try to break the rut? Sit around and beat yourself up? Do nothing but stay stuck?

 

Every parent has bad days, looses their patience, realizes they aren't really connecting with their kids but just going through the motions, etc. The question is what we do when we become aware of it. Beating ourselves up for it is NOT helpful, but different things are going to help different moms pivot.

 

I think that for a lot of moms who are trying to practice GD, APing, etc,. sometimes what we need is to take care of ourselves. We can end up giving and giving and giving until we are burned out and exhausted. I suspect that for most moms who frequent these boards, our bad parenting days are more likely to stem from a need to nurture ourselves.(So in my book, bubble baths and yoga classes and coffee with a friend help me be a better mother!)

 

Peace

 

 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#30 of 45 Old 03-08-2012, 07:30 AM
 
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I would say you are a bad mom if:

 

- you act with the intention of hurting your child

- you sexually or physically abuse your child, or knowingly allow abuse to happen

- you don't consider your child's needs at all or only as an after thought

- you intentionally put your child in danger or don't act to remove your child from clear danger

- you don't provide for a child's basic needs (including love and affection), or don't attempt to provide for their basic needs

- you consider your wants to be more important than your child's needs

- you don't try to evaluate yourself and your relationship with your child, and strive make them better

- you intentionally shame, humiliate, or cause anxiety in your child

- you regularly emotionally abuse your child, allow emotional abuse, or do not act to manage the occasional emotional abuse that is inherent in just about all relationships

 

I'm sure a mom who is hell bent on defining herself as bad can find a moment when she saw her kid jumping on the couch and failed to act before the kid fell off and broke their arm or something and decide that she's a bad mom because she didn't remove her child from danger.  Of course that's not what I'm talking about, but moms have a way of getting loopy about this bad mom stuff.  I remember once with my first child, I had convinced myself that the baby wasn't crying enough because she felt so neglected that crying was pointless (i guess watching the documentary on romanian orphanages was ill advised).  I hate to think what I'd have imagined if she had colic.  As others have pointed out, not being a great mom doesn't mean you're a bad mom.  All of us have our bad mom moments - but if we try and change, get help when we need it, act in our child's best interest, and act out of love then we are on the right path.

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