To the Parents Who Are Worried You’re Screwing Up Your Kids

If you’re anything like me, you spend a good chunk of your day worrying that you’re screwing your kids up in ways that you’ve never imagined. You lay awake at night replaying every conversation you had with each kid, wondering if raising your voice because you had to tell her for the thirteenth time to pick up her dang shoes is going to scar her permanently.

Nobody ever told me before I had kids that I’d spend just as much time worried about screwing them up as I would actually hanging out with them. What I, and every parent needs, is someone to tell you that we’re doing a good job. So that’s what this is. If you feel like you’re rocking this parenting thing, just move on to the next Pinterest craft. If you need some encouragement, read on.

You are doing an amazing job.

Yes, you, at the restaurant with the iPad in front of her kid so that she can eat three bites of food in peace. I’ll admit to judging you before having kids. I’d think things like “what, you can’t even hang out with your kid for thirty minutes without putting them in front of a screen?” or “man I’m never going to be that lazy of a parent. I’ll actually interact with my kids.” I’m sorry for the judgement. Three kids later, I understand the urge to put on another episode of “The Lion Guard” to get twenty minutes to eat a normal, human pace. You do what you gotta do.

Yes, you, using Gogurt as a bribe. I know that in 2017, specifically in Portland where I live, healthy eating is important. I get not letting your kids dive head first into the old stash of Halloween candy, or using Pop-Tarts as an acceptable breakfast every day. Our kids bodies are growing and we need to feed them appropriately. That being said, we have all come to place where we’ve used “insert your treat of choice here” as a way to get the kids to do what we’ve already asked them to do a thousand times. Hey, if a Sponge Bob yogurt tube will get them to finally put those shoes away, go for it. No shame in your game.

Yes, you, losing your temper the second you walk in the door at the end of the day. You had the best of intentions. You drove the whole way home thinking about how you were going to walk in the door and be the world’s best parent. Then you opened the door and the kids were screaming at each other because someone looked at someone wrong, or one kid told the other kid they weren’t actually seven (which they are.) Look, I’m not condoning just arbitrarily yelling at your kids, but it happens to us all. Those little walking tax breaks just know how to push our buttons in all the right ways. Don’t let it get you down.

I know it seems like you can’t log into Facebook or open the internet without reading an article about how you’re screwing your kids up, or why this parenting philosophy is better than this one. Don’t raise your voice, don’t feed your kids processed foods or they’ll grow a third arm, don’t tell your kids no or they’ll grow up with a complex. It seems like as a parent, we’re all incapable of doing anything right. Every decision we make is the wrong one, or at least we’re told it’s the wrong one.

But hear me on this: your kids will be fine. I know you feel bad about raising your voice. I know you’re so tired that you send your kid to the pantry for a snack, just praying they at least pick something resembling a good choice (spoiler alert: they’ll probably pick fruit snacks or goldfish.) It’s okay. It feels like, as parents, that we’re required to be perfect and make the perfect decisions and if we do, we’ll end up with perfect kids.

Take a look around any elementary school classroom and let me know if there’s any truth to that.

You’re an amazing parent doing the best you can, and that person that you think makes all the wrong parenting decisions, they’re amazing parents doing the best they can. We’re all in this together aren’t we? We’re all trying to raise kids who will grow up to be kind, compassionate, caring, and make a difference in the world. At the end of the day, that’s all we want for our kids, right?