“I Feel Like a Failure as a Parent.” What Now?

Duke and Charlie, our 7-year-old shi-poodle and our 5-year-old golden retriever, pooped in the house again. During a moment of fury and impatience, as I rushed our dogs out into the back yard, I realized our twin girls’ eyes were like windows absorbing my impulsive behavior. I caught myself neglecting the significance of setting a good example for them. It was a wake-up call that reminded me of the importance of modeling the values and behaviors I want them to embrace.

Ever felt like you’re fumbling the parenting game? Trust me—you’re not alone. That was just one of my fumbles. But here’s the deal: It’s OK to feel inadequate sometimes. When we’re slacking, we’ve always got to accept the responsibility that we messed up and we need to do better. If you have thought “I feel like a failure as a parent,” remember that perfection is not the goal; progress along the journey is. Let’s dive into 5 sanity-saving reminders that’ll have you embracing the dad adventure like a pro.

1. We’re all learning and growing.

First things first, nobody is a perfect dad. I know I’m not. Fatherhood has been a continuous journey of learning and growing for me. It’s perfectly normal to make mistakes along the way because that’s how we gain wisdom. Every day is a new opportunity to become a better father. So, when you stumble, remember that it’s just a pitstop on your path to becoming an awesome dad.

2. It’s about quality and quantity.

This is a big one for me ‘cause I catch myself packing our schedule to the brim with activities and events just to connect with our girls. I’m constantly worried about striking that perfect balance between work and spending time with them. It’s a real struggle.

Sure, carving out time is crucial, but it’s not just about the hours on the clock; it’s about the heart we put into it. Those meaningful interactions, those heartfelt conversations, and those genuine bonding moments matter. Whether it’s a quick bedtime story or a deep heart-to-heart chat squeezed in before a big game, these moments are the ones that stick. They’re the ones that make a lasting impression.

So, it’s not just about quality, and it’s not just about quantity. It’s about both. It’s a moving target to give them your engaging undivided attention as often as you can. And although it’s not easy, it’s a target worth aiming for because every little moment counts.

Comparison only leads to unnecessary stress and self-doubt.

3. Comparison is a no-go.

One of the quickest ways to make me feel like I’m failing as a father is by comparing myself to others. We’ve got to remember every family is unique, and what works for someone else may not work for us. Social media can make it seem like everyone else has it together, but those picture-perfect moments don’t tell the whole story. Focus on your own journey and what’s best for your family. Comparison only leads to unnecessary stress and self-doubt.

4. Transparency transforms.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to put on a brave face and pretend everything is perfect. But in reality, it’s OK to be open and honest about your struggles. Sharing your challenges with your wife, friends, or a support group can be incredibly therapeutic. Not only does it help you through the ups and downs of fatherhood, but it also strengthens your relationships and shows your children the importance of vulnerability and communication.

5. Your mind matters.

Your mental and emotional well-being plays a significant role in your ability to be a great dad. Don’t neglect self-care. Taking time for yourself, whether it’s through exercise, hobbies, or simply relaxing, is essential. A rested and fulfilled mind is better equipped to handle the challenges of fatherhood. Remember that if you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health issues, seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Sound off: Have you ever thought “I feel like a failure as a parent?” What would help you the most?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are some good things about failing?”