Parenting classes create this false impression that you could learn how to be a parent, like you can learn how to cook or learn how to ride a bike. We hate to burst the bubble, but there’s no certificate you can get that’s going to turn you into Ms. Perfect Parent.
Sure, parenting tips can help. But all the classes you go to or reading you do won’t prevent you from making at least one — and probably all — of these classic parenting mistakes.
But don’t beat yourself up about it. Because we absolutely guarantee you that every parent — every single one — has been there before. If someone assures you that they didn’t make any of these mistakes, they are lying. So let’s get it over with and share the secret mistakes that every Mommy (and Daddy) makes.
1. You Will Forget Something Important
Like shoes. Or a diaper. A friend of ours has asked strangers in the New York Museum of Natural History if they have a spare diaper for her baby, and the only thing that gave her the courage to do so was the fact that in the past, other strangers have come up to her with similar requests.
2. You Will Compare Your Child To Another Child
We all know that you should never compare your child. Your child is unique and perfect, no matter what anyone else’s child does. But does that ever stop us? Heck no.
You’ll either rejoice that your Lilly is walking much earlier than Rosie next door, and take that as proof that Lilly is far superior to Rosie and every other child on the planet in every possible way. Or you will despair that Jon at playgroup eats with a fork while your Freddy just smushes the food into his hair, and spends the next 4 hours crying that something is wrong with Freddy.
3. You Will Give Your Child Too Much Screen Time
You’ve heard all the studies that show that too much screen time is harmful for children, and you’ve resolved that your child will never be harmed in that way. But it’s going to happen at some point; you’ll be harassed, exhausted, stressed, and longing for another half-hour’s quiet while they’re on the iPad… and another half-hour… and that’s how it goes.
4. You Will Be Disappointed When Your Child Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations
At some point or other, every single parent develops expectations for their child. It might be expecting them to walk before they are a year old, or expecting them to like Bob Dylan, or even expecting them to hate math. You may well think that your expectations are totally reasonable (and you know what? You might even be right).
Sometimes your child will match these expectations. And sometimes, they won’t. It’s ok if they don’t, though. It just means that your child is an individual with their own preferences and personality. Like the rest of us, you’ll learn to live with, and even be happy about, the disappointment.
5. You Will Shout And/or Scream
If you’re like most of us, you remember seeing a mother red-faced and screaming at her child in public. You felt terribly sad for her and her child, and you resolved that never, ever, would you shout or scream at your little darling. You’ll always explain things in a gentle voice, and if necessary, you’ll keep repeating yourself forever.
You know where we’re going here. Shouting, and probably screaming, will happen. As long as it’s not the way you regularly communicate with your child, you will both be fine.
6. You Won’t Practice What You Preach
Have you ever heard that children are experts at spotting hypocrisy? It’s vital that you never lie to your child and that you always set a good example. You’ve almost certainly already vowed to do just that, and you are almost certainly doomed to break that vow.
You’ll tell your child things like “You must always eat your vegetables before you have dessert” or “No, there are no more cupcakes left in the box.” But you’ll secretly eat the last cupcake before dinner, because you need it. Just make sure nobody sees.
7. You Will Forget To Live In The Moment
You know that although the days are long, the years are short. You’re going to value every moment of motherhood, live in the moment, and smell the roses.
And then you have a crazy busy day, and you just need to spend a few minutes mindlessly scrolling Instagram, so you don’t watch your child while they show you what they can do on the monkey bars. You absently tell them that you’re watching while you go back to your phone. And then you will feel guilty about it forever, or at least until you secretly eat the last cupcake at midnight tonight.
8. You Will Get Frustrated At Your Child
We all like to think that we’ll be infinitely patient with our children, that we’ll understand that they are endlessly asking “why?” because of their natural curiosity, and we’ll grant them the space to work out which shoe goes on which foot all by themselves.
But some of the time, we are in a rush and we lose our patience. We snap at our children out of frustration, and take over instead of letting them work it out. It’s ok. Your child will give you another chance tomorrow. And the next day.
9. You Will Turn A Blind Eye
You know that your child has had far too many cookies already and that more sugar is bad for them. Or that you should go over and stop them from dropping their peas on the floor, because it’s important to be consistent about disciplining your child.
But you don’t have the energy today, so you pretend that you didn’t see what’s happening just so that you won’t have to do anything about it. We’ve all done it.
Don’t let all of this get you down. Although you’re going to make all these mistakes, just like every other parent, your child will be just fine anyway. Free yourself to make mistakes and keep on trying, just like your child does.