Karen Casey Coaching

Parenting Can Be Messy

Perfect Parenting is a Myth

Social media had not arrived when my children were growing up. It was popular to write family newsletters at Christmas and send them with cards to our family and friends. We would load those newsletters sharing our travels, things our children were participating in, and all kinds of newsy notes that gave a glimpse into our lives. A glimpse is absolutely what it shared. No one wrote about their failures, arguments, or the child who was derailing or failing. I wrote a newsletter each year when my children were young but always had mixed feelings about writing that newsletter. Why? I felt like I was drawing a picture of a “perfect” family and I knew we were anything but.

Is My Experience Common?

Most of us have experienced reading the posts of friends and family on social media and found ourselves wondering if we were parenting as well as they seemed to be. It is not easy to read the glowing posts of successes and exotic trips when your child is falling into an addiction or struggling academically. Comparing our insides to another person’s outsides is a slippery slope. In my years of working with families and their children academically, I walked with many through challenging circumstances that others would have never guessed from the outside look of their family.
When our children are young, we can more easily find their frustrating or ornery antics funny. Those stories often become part of one’s family “lore”. I remember my son getting into a bookbag and finding a tube of lipstick that ended up all over his body and the wall in his bedroom. I grabbed my camera and remember how we all laughed at his ruining my favorite tube of Clinique lipstick. Boundaries crossed by a tween/teen is typically a pretty different experience….and we have a different response. No cute photos when this happens!

What to do when you don’t know the answer

As our kids grow, the stories can change or shift rapidly, and we find ourselves in deeper waters or unfamiliar experiences. I sat observing the joy of a soon-to-be young mom recently at her baby shower and found myself thinking how very little we all know when we begin the job of parenting. Everything was simply perfect from the décor to the beautiful gifts. It was a far from messy event. From diapers to the teen years, parenting can be messy, hard, and yet so rewarding. No amount of advice or books on parenting can fully prepare us for all that comes with the job. This is where I found a coach to be helpful when I needed insight, an objective ear, or needed to check my own thinking.
It must become a priority for us to commit to learning how to give ourselves space as parents to be human and be released from the crazy amount of “shoulds” that can fill our brains. While we may work to validate the feelings and experiences of our children, it would help our mental health to validate our own feelings and experiences as a parent. If you are struggling today as a parent, you are not alone. If you feel little hope for your situation, please run from comparing your parenting and your child by what you can only see from the outside of another family. While parenting is a big part of our lives, we are also much more than a parent. This “messiness” does not define us or determine our worth. Let’s keep finding ways to embrace the messy!

Is Coaching for you?

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