Am I a Bad Mom?
Recently, throngs of women have flocked to theaters to watch the movie Bad Moms. I will admit I was one of them. As I sat in the theater filled with moms, I was struck by the fact that, not only were these women here to laugh, they were also here asking the question “Am I a bad mom”?
As a Marriage and Family Therapist specializing in working with children, teens and parents, as well as a mother with mommy friends, I can say that question is often found at the core of our fears and choices as a parent. That core can actually cause us to parent from fear (here is the link to my recent post about fearful parenting), isolate from those who we perceive as good parents and leave us feeling disconnected from our children and teens. All because we are scared they will confirm the worst of our fears—we are “bad moms.”
One of my favorite things about this movie is it highlighted the list of ‘shoulds’ often experienced by modern mothers. These expectations are generally unrealistic and aren’t, at their center, related to how a child or teen experiences his or her parent. Neither are they based on true developmental and relational needs. I rarely receive a call from the parent of a potential client that doesn’t include at least one instance them ‘shoulding’ themselves, questioning if their child’s struggles or concerns are the result of their failure as a parent.
“In this day in age, it is impossible to be a good mom.” – Kristen Bell (Kiki), Bad Moms
Let yourself Be BAD : Relax, Prioritize, Be Authentic
Let me offer you some encouragement. If I could impart one key for effective parenting to you today, it would be to start letting yourself be a Bad Mom, or a Bad Dad, or a Bad Parent. I’ve listed three ways I have seen parents successfully use being a Bad Mom or Dad to transform their relationships with their kids, and, in turn, transform their family from one burdened with ‘shoulds’ to one that is unburdened and free in its imperfect parenting.
Find a rhythm of relaxation in the chaos of life.
Model ways of finding balance between doing tasks and relaxation for your child. Saying no to PTA this year, or yes to nights off from doing the dishes may be the best Bad Mom gift you can give your children. For many parents, this first Bad Mom step might be hard. In letting go of some of their activities and involvements, many parents often realize they have been defining themselves by their ability to outwardly succeed at the ‘shoulds’ of life. Without their outward success, they can struggle to identify their value without that successfully completed task list to go by. If you are a parent who finds yourself struggling to let go of the lists and the value you find from them, there are parenting coach therapists like myself who can help you process why those lists have become so important to you and how you can release them, discovering your worth without them and relaxing into the rhythm of life.
Prioritize your schedules.
Look at your schedule, as well as your kids, and determine if it is bringing you closer together and shaping you into the types of people you want to be. Is it time to eliminate some of the ‘shoulds ’in your schedules, so you can make time to be with each other and be influenced by one another to become people of kindness, peace playfulness or adventure? Can you encourage your child to eliminate some ‘shoulds’ your social group values, when those ‘shoulds’ distract your child or teen from their core values, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and without time or space to feel, express and be for themselves?
Have real friends and spend authentic time.
I can honestly say that one pattern I see in families with children that are confident and able to cope with the ups and downs of life are parents who have real friends. As parents and adults we can easily develop a pattern of pretend that propels us into telling those around us about our successes or our children’s, but that leaves us feeling isolated, unable to ask “Is he or she the only one who struggles with that?” or “Am I failing as a parent?” Children and teens growing up with parents who don’t have real and vulnerable friendships often grow up with beliefs about perfection and success that their parents never intended. Be a Bad Mom and show your children how to have a friend over, even if your house isn’t perfect. Spend time with friends and talk about your successes and failures. Cry and laugh with your friends when your kids are around. They will learn by your example how to have real and vulnerable relationships, which, in turn,will allow them to see how to develop solid and transparent social connections to support them as they maneuver through their daily life.
Getting hung up on the ‘shoulds’ of parenting can create a lot of obstacle for both you and your kids. Letting go of those ‘shoulds’, and being a Bad Mom, may be the best thing you could do for your child by creating an authentic, vulnerable space for them to see that ‘adulting’ isn’t about perfection, but making the mistakes that help you learn to thrive.
If you are a parent struggling to relax, prioritize or be authentic I can help you develop the tools to release the unrealistic societal demands on parents and come up with the best plan for you and your family. Call me at 818-669-4850 or contact me here today.