When You’re Feeling Like a Bad Parent

Children can be an intense joy in the lives of their parents. Their infectious giggles and sincere declarations of “I love you” can melt hearts, break tension, and tighten the circle of unity in their families. But, as many parents know, children also bring unique challenges. Parents may feel these diverse challenging moments bring out the worst in themselves. Perhaps you have experienced the embarrassment of your child’s angry temper tantrum in the middle of a busy shopping mall. Maybe your child has once more returned home with a failed grade or negative note from the teacher. It’s possible that in difficult moments you’ve tried to reason with your children, but the negative behavior continues.

When these difficulties occur, especially if they have occurred over and over again, it is not surprising that some parents reach the end of their rope. If you have reacted negatively to your child and are struggling to feel you are a good parent, it may be beneficial for you to remember four messages of hope offered by parenting experts Daniel Siegel and Tina Bryson.

  1. There are no magic wands. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could wave your hand and start over every time things are falling apart? Unfortunately, the truth is, sometimes even when you try your best you may not be able to help your child calm down. You may have to seek the help of your spouse or another close adult. Perhaps you’ll just have to wait out the anger for a bit and wait for a better time to approach the problem.
  2. Your kids benefit even when you mess up. Remember, you are human. Humans make mistakes, even in parenting. It’s alright to be imperfect. Besides, you now have the chance to model how to repair relationships after outbursts, a valuable skill that children themselves need to develop.
  3. You can always reconnect. One of the most important things to do when you feel you have damaged your relationship with your child is to seek reconnection. Ruptures in the relationship between parents and children are common. They may come because of the child or because of the parent, but ultimately, they do not have to damage the relationship. Taking the time later, when things have settled, to reconnected with your child will help your children to increase their trust in you.
  4. It’s never too late to make a positive change. Maybe you’ve read the books and taken the classes on parenting and realize you’ve been doing it all wrong. That’s alright. Change is hard, but it can be done anytime. Toddlers, teens, and even young adults will benefit from the actions you take to improve yourself as a parent.

So, parents, when you are feeling you just can’t get it right, remember you don’t have to be the perfect parent to raise good kids. Your mistakes, and more importantly how you handle them, will teach your children how to navigate their own intense emotions. Even more importantly, there is always room for repair. Despite what your children may say or do, they want to be close to you and will most likely be willing to forgive if you do your part. It’s never too late to repair damaged relationships. Changes may not be immediate, but through effort and patience you can achieve it.



Siegel, D. J., & Bryson, T. P. (2014). No-drama discipline: The whole-brain way to calm the chaos and nurture your child’s developing mind. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

Comments are closed.