How to Stop Beating Yourself Up After a Parenting Fail

I failed today.

If you look really closely…

you’ll see that I fail every day. But today the fail was big.

She was smiling and joking, just like I had planned.

A big school event was going to require her best self…

and I had given her the perfect morning to bring that best self.

We were minutes from walking out the door and words tumbled out of my mouth as I thought them. (Nothing good ever comes from words coming out of me before full thoughts are formed.)

In seconds, I had both criticized her outfit and demanded she change.

Her outfits are always well thought out. It’s a source of pride for her. What I had said was both mean and unfair.

It would also make us late.

Late on this important day. She would now be late and mad.

I did the damage control I could and she was laughing again when we arrived. But after I said goodbye I sat in the parking lot feeling downright crummy.

How could I make this mistake of speaking before I think… AGAIN.

stop beating yourself up after a parenting fail

I was about to go down that path. Do you know that path?

I know that path very well.

It’s the path that pulls up vivid memories of every. single. wrong move I’ve made as a Mom. It’s the path that nurtures the pit in my stomach and begs me to answer too many what ifs.

But here’s the thing… here’s three things actually. Three very true things.

#1 – Beating myself up all day will not change what happened.

#2 – Feeling like a terrible parent until pick up will not give her the warm and loving reuniting I want to give her.

#3 (and probably most important) – I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve a day of self-abuse because I made a mistake.

So where do I go instead?

Where do I go now that will build me up instead of continuing to tear me down?

The answer is I go for love. I go for the same support and compassion I would offer someone else.

I decide right now to spend intentional time on this and then let it go.

#1 – I will answer the question… “What was the actual problem with what I did and what did I learn from it?” The purpose of this question is to grow. I will learn from what I did so that next time I will be a little bit better. I’m committed to this parenting thing for quite a while and I know I will get better along the way.

#2 – I will get out a piece of paper and write 3 things I’ve done well in the last day or so. Those are the things that matter. Those are the things that will grow my confidence and my abilities. Those are the moments I will carry today. (I might even create a positive affirmation out of them!)

Please leave a comment. Tell me how you avoid the path. Tell me something you did good today. Or tell me you have been here too.


  1. Hi i agree that when you have a parent fail, you just have to forgive yourself and move on. Parenting teens is like walking on eggshells. You never know if what you do or say is going to be right or wrong. But the thing to remember is that they are going through a lot – growth spurts, hormonal changes and trying to assert their independence. So I try my very best each day to parent with love and understanding in the hope that the day will prove to be a win for both of us.

  2. Hi Jill,

    Being a parent myself, I think it is ok to fail sometime. After-all, we are human too. Don’t overthink, just go with the flow.

    PS : I love your blog.

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