The next time that uppity mom in the Facebook group gets all high and mighty because her kids eat their veggies without complaining, share this little pearl with her. A newly released survey of 2,000 parents by OnePoll showed that the average parent makes 221 “parenting mishaps” a year. You heard that right, 221 mistakes. There are 365 days in a year. If we do a little more quick math, by the time your child reaches 18, the average parent will have made 4,000 “mistakes.”
What are the most common mistakes? Well, too much screen time (65%) is a big one. I am so guilty of that. And let me just say, with my kids out of school because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s only getting worse.
Accidentally teaching children swear words is another one (42%). Oh wow. I sure as hell have made that mistake. And letting kids watch something that wasn’t age-appropriate (39%). Yeah, so I hit a solid three for three.
Am I sharing this with the good readers of Scary Mommy to make y’all feel bad? Oh gosh no. I want you to all accept the reality that parenting is the most amateur sport ever. I know this for a fact. I’ve been a parent for more than ten years, and I think I can say confidently that no one knows what they’re doing (even if they seem like they do).
I have faced some pretty serious parent-shaming online. One time I got the people of the Internet really mad because I didn’t force my three-year-old to eat a banana. I kid you not. I cut up a banana, and my three-year-old got mad because it wasn’t cut the way she liked it. Why? Because three-year-olds. I wrote a post about it, and someone online went as far as to tell me that because I didn’t force her to eat the banana, I should have my children taken away. If that isn’t bananas, I don’t know what is.
I have no doubt that you have faced parenting shame online. Or you have felt like a failure because someone on Instagram appears to have it all together, while you are standing there in your Crocs and leggings, trying to resist the urge to buy your children a camper and make them live in the driveway.
Folks, we are all winging it, and this survey only proves it. Parenting is this insane assortment of gears we are expected to align. There is no manual. There is no getting it right all the time. And the moment you think you figured it out, your children change, and bam! Square one.
So don’t feel so bad about it.
Above all, contain your judgment. Don’t get all high and mighty online. Keep your comments civil, and realize that you are making just as many mistakes as the rest of us. And if you don’t think so, you are wrong. I’m sorry, you are because that’s how parenting works.
There’s so much going on in your house that you probably don’t even know about, even if you’re the most vigilant of parents. Ana Veciana-Suarez wrote about the survey mentioned above for the Miami Herald. She mentioned that it wasn’t until her son moved out for college that she discovered he’d been jumping from the roof into their pool whenever he was home alone. She was shocked, but to be real, I used to do the same thing in junior high … only it was jumping from the roof onto the trampoline. I still don’t think my mother knows about this. (If you are reading this Mom, I’m sorry. It was a dare that turned into a thing. Please forgive me).
The pressure on parents to be perfect is mind-boggling, and the drive for “results” debilitating. In the end, we are just trying to raise thoughtful, socially minded, caring humans who will one day move out and raise families of their own. We have a loose idea of what we are doing, but nothing concrete. The kids throw a lot of curve balls, and that’s okay. That’s how it works. So accept that you are making mistakes, support your fellow parents online, and above all, follow this motto: Don’t be a dick.
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