It's a big question right? One that I'm sure every parent asks themselves a million times.
I read a blog post the other day where the blogger was telling a story of not having given her children the Easter baskets she had imagined last year so this year she doubled her efforts to make it very special. This got me thinking about my own feelings of guilt regarding failure in parenthood.
What I can say is that after 30 plus years of being a parent (yes, I'm dating myself here) I now know that I have not failed as a parent.
Yes, there have been times when I've agonised over things I've missed, opportunities to take my children to places they really wanted to go but for whatever reason I couldn't, things I could have done better, harsh words spoken in anger, should I, could I, would I!
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to take my young son to see his very favourite band the Jonas Brothers (he'd be so embarrassed I'm telling you this now!). Well, the stars didn't align and I missed buying the tickets. Leading up to the concert I tried everything to find some tickets online but to no avail. The day of the concert I was a mess. I was feeling so much guilt and I felt like I was the worst parent in the World. I even remember posting on Facebook about it. So, now, today - five years on - do you think he cares? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
When all is said and done, your children will NOT remember that you didn't give them the Easter baskets or that you missed that one basketball game or concert or whatever it happens to be. They won't remember the harsh words you said, unless you say things like that all the time. It's the mosts that matter. It's that you were there most of the time, it's that you were sympathetic and empathetic to their needs most of the time, it's that you made your best effort.
Kids, as they grow up, understand that you are doing your best. Your best is your best. You can strive to be a better parent and I've read my share of parenting books. The best one ever, by the way, is the Five Languages of Love for Children by Gary Chapman. He's also written books for teens (which I also found to be very helpful) and for marriage. Just as a side, this concept of Gary Chapman's saved my marriage many years ago but that's another story for another time.
Your kids will however remember the DIDS. When you did give them that stunning Easter basket, or you did make it to the game or you did spend some quiet time with them after school listening to how their day went. My kids will remember as good one of the things my son hates the most - sitting and eating at the dinner table (he'd rather watch TV).
This is the time when we "unwrap" our days. We talk about how things are going and get the run down of how everyone's day went. We make Saturday night dinner special. We usually have a nice meal and we are all present, if possible. I usually make dessert. After dinner we sit and chat, sometimes for hours. It's special to me and I know it's special to them, even though they sometimes don't appreciate this.
So my advice here is stop stressing about the small stuff, make some traditions of your own (like our Saturday dinners) and be consistent.
What are your traditions? What do you do with your kids that makes everyday normal things special? I'd really love to hear your stories - how you think you've failed and then realised it didn't matter, or if you're struggling right now with something that's making you feel guilty.
Leave me your comments below - I'd love to hear from you.