The #1 Cause Of 'Parenting Regret'? Losing Our Sh*t With Our Kids

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Scary Mommy and Jamie Grill Photography/Getty

Listen, we all wake up in the morning with the best of intentions. No one puts their feet on the floor thinking, “man, I can’t wait to go all bat-shit on my kid today. Let’s see what we can drum up, shall we?”

I’ve been a mom for over 16 years and it’s been the biggest battle I’ve fought with myself. Just this morning I was on the phone with my ex-husband and we were discussing one of our children’s grades, which could be a lot better if he would put in some effort and put down his phone. He had two missing assignments with literally zero excuse for the missing work.

“I know you’re mad, but don’t lose it on him,” my ex told me. “You’ll feel awful later.” He was right on both accounts, telling me to not go to the bad place and yell at my teenagers because that’s usually where I go. But also, warning me that I’ll feel like a bag of dicks if I do. Then he confessed the reminder was for both of us, because he too was pissed.

It doesn’t matter how old your kids are: As parents, there are times when it feels so right to lose it on our children when they are misbehaving, constantly complaining, or refusing to put on pants when we are running late to an appointment.

I have to admit when I lose my patience and let my family members know exactly how I feel, it’s a huge release after a big buildup. The second I open my mouth and tell them how frustrated I am, it feels good. Damn good.

But then comes a guilt-chaser, and that tastes horrible. I vow I’ll find a better way to communicate, that I want to set a better example for them, so that they have healthier coping mechanisms as adults.

The aftermath of losing it can be enough to keep us awake at night while our kids sleep peacefully. When all is quiet, we replay all the things we’ve done wrong during the day and looking at our adorable sleeping, innocent children magnifies our feelings times 100.

It’s so easy to look back with regret and think you could have handled the situation with a lot more grace.

All you can do is try harder the next day.

Parental guilt is an issue we just can’t shake. There’s a constant feeling of being damned if we do and damned if we don’t. And a recent survey conducted by Primrose Schools found that losing patience is the biggest reason for parental guilt.

Over 1,300 parents were surveyed in the U.S., and 31% of parents said lack of patience was their “top guilt-inducing regret.”

Not being able to hold it together topped not spending enough quality time with kids and working too much. So, my fellow parents who lose it on your kids on the regular, you are not alone.

PRNewswire reports the results of a Farm Rich study which surveyed 2,000 adults of school-aged children: “When rating their own skills, 25 percent of parents find themselves second-guessing their decisions on a regular basis, with losing their temper being the #1 source of guilt.”

As a way to let parents know “their best is good enough,” Primrose schools launched LetGuiltGo, a safe space for parents to go and share what they feel guilty about in hopes to encourage and support them.

Our parental guilt is never going to go away. We are imperfect humans who have created imperfect tiny humans who know how to push our buttons. No one can deny the willpower it takes to keep your shit all packed up nice and neat when your child is screaming in your face because they want to zip their own jacket, or buckle their own seat belt.

They certainly know how to bring us to the brink, even during the times they aren’t trying to … like the other day when my son dropped a yogurt that smashed all over my clean kitchen, and he did a half-assed job of cleaning it up because he was chatting to his buddy on the phone. In his mind, he cleaned it up. In my mind, he undid an hour’s worth of work and someone was probably going to slip and eat shit. I was able to hold in my anger and it felt like a win.I know I am not capable of this behavior all the time — after all, I am not a robot with zero emotions who is able to walk around and be non-reactive to all the frustrating things my kids do. But I’m learning to accept that, and the guilt that comes after it.All I can do is try again tomorrow. And perhaps not buy any more yogurt for a while.

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