The stress and pressure of parenting are no joke. Admittedly, I probably should have known that bringing a whole other person into the world would come with the potential for some mistakes. But I was not at all prepared for the level of self-doubt that seems to come hand-in-hand with parenting. Even for folks who are all about embracing their inner Ms. Frizzle, it can be jarring. BUT, after being at this for a lil while, I have come to realize that just because you are making ALL the mistakes and getting (hot)messy, it doesn’t mean you need to spend your whole life saying sorry. In fact, I would argue, there are a fair number of things that parents should never apologize for.
Here are a few.
Things Parents Should Never Apologize For
1. The Way You Feed Your Kid
Oftentimes, as a parent, it truly does not matter what you choose to do, someone is going to judge you for it. And feeding your kids is a perfect example of this. It is truly mind-boggling to me that anyone aside from my child could take such a strong stance on how they are being fed, but here we are.
If you breastfeed, you are spoiling them. If you bottle-feed, you should be breastfeeding. If you take them out for dinner, you are lazy. Heaven forbid you have the audacity to breastfeed a baby where someone else may see you... you know someone is going to be like:
There is no winning here. So do what works for you and your littles on any given day. As long as your kids are fed, how that happens is something parents should never apologize for or justify to anyone else.
2. Your Parenting
This one is another minefield. And a minefield that outsiders seem more than willing to wade into with unsolicited opinions. Which can leave even veteran parents feeling extremely miffed.
Bedtime routines, screen time, discipline, values, boxers or briefs. You make about a gazillion choices a day that center around teaching and raising your tiny human. Uncertainty is part of the game and sometimes parents are tempted to apologize for the decisions they make.
Are you going to make the right call every time? Absolutely not. Should you admit that you were wrong and apologize to your kids when you do make a mistake? Absolutely, yes. No one is a perfect parent. But you owe no apologies to anyone outside of your household about how you choose to parent your littles.
3. Your Kid’s Behavior
We seem to forget that kids are people. They are tinier and more adorable than most people. But they are still people with thoughts, opinions, and feelings. They are also people who have good days and bad days. Just like us. By forgetting this important fact, we tend to hold kids to unreasonable standards when it comes to their behaviour. And because they don't have the skills to cope as well as adults with their bad days, meltdowns and misery ensue.
But absolutely none of this is a reflection of you as a parent. Even if their behaviour is rooted in something you did or didn’t do, they are still their own person and they are going to make behaviour decisions that are out of your control.
Obviously, we should always be doing our best to teach them coping skills and morals so that they can learn behaviour that better aligns with our values as a family. There may even be times when you need to explain this to someone or gently remind them that your little one is still learning how to human. But your kid having a meltdown or misbehaving is not in your direct control and is, therefore, one of the things parents should never feel the need to apologize for.
4. Missing Out
They say there are seven wonders of the world, but I disagree. The undisputed 8th wonder is any parent who has the ability to leave their home with their womb goblins in a timely manner without incident. Leaving the comfort of your home- and all the gear and goodies you need to feed, diaper, and clean up after your kids- is no joke. Let’s not even talk about the degree of thought and energy it takes to plan around nap times, potty breaks, and other staples in your babe’s daily routine.
All of this adds up to missing out on time with friends, family, and other social events that would have been an automatic “yes” before. And that is 100% okay. Sometimes you can’t swing it. Sometimes your kids need their routine more than they need to go to their cousin’s birthday party. Setting limits on your precious time and saying no when you need to is another thing parents should never apologize for.
I’d also like to petition to add not apologizing for being late anymore (for all the reasons outlined above)... but that may be being greedy.
5. Needing Time for Yourself
You will find a lot of content out there related to self-care for parents out there on the interwebs. And for good reason. Parents need to do things just for themselves now and then.
And when I say “for yourself” I mean really, really for yourself. Not, “Oh I will leave the kids with my partner while I grocery shop.” Or, “Oh I will take a shower without the kids interrupting me.” Those things are undoubtedly awesome and 100% necessary too, but they are just necessary tasks made easier.
What I’m talking about is taking the time to do something that no one else in your house is going to benefit from but you. It is undoubtedly a luxury and not something most can swing often. But it is necessary and is something parents should never apologize or feel guilty for.
6. Not Loving Everything About Being a Parent
“Soak up every moment because before you know it they will be grown!”
“The nights are long but the years are short!”
Are these phrases accurate and well-meaning? Probably. Do they also seem systematically designed to make every parent feel guilty? Heck. Yes.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again: parenting. Is. No. Joke. It is beautiful but exhausting. Joyful but infuriating. Wonderful and hard. And it goes without saying that parents love their kids. We appreciate the crap out of everything our offspring bring to our lives. We don’t take for granted the fact that we have them and that there are many who aren’t so lucky. Most of us chose this path and understand that responsibility and a certain amount of self-sacrifice are part of the package.
But we also don’t stop being human when our babies are born. And being patronized, dismissed, having your feelings minimized, or your needs ignored when you are struggling should not be as normalized as it is for parents.
Anyone who tells you that they enjoy everything about being a parent is lying to you. No one enjoys wiping someone else's butt. No one.
So not soaking in every single millisecond, or even occasionally looking wistfully back at your pre-kid life does not make you a bad parent and is definitely one of the things that parents should never apologize for.
About the Author
Amanda is a teacher and mom of two from small-town Ontario. When she isn’t struggling to keep up with her boys, you can find her reading, crocheting, or writing poop-jokes for Lil Helper’s website, emails, and blog.
What do you think? Did we get something wrong? What other things do you think parents should stop apologizing for? Let me know in the comments below.