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  • Writer's pictureInterval Health

How to Fight the Feeling of Failure as a Parent

Updated: Sep 12, 2022

Parenting is messy and at times, it feels like none of the pieces are in place as they should be. Reframing failure is a constant battle for many parents.

While parenting is one of the greatest adventures and experiences anyone can have, it’s also daunting at times. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s especially true when you feel the need to be “perfect,” or if you put too much pressure on yourself.

Even if you know you can’t achieve perfection, it’s not uncommon for that pressure to still be there. Unfortunately, that makes it easier to feel inadequate.

If you struggle with feelings of failure regularly, you’re not alone. But, you also don’t have to continue feeling that way. All you can do is your best, after all. There are also a few ideas you can keep in mind to fight off those feelings of failure.

Let’s look at a few different ways to keep those negative feelings at bay, so you can put all your focus on being the best parent you can be.

Dealing with Negative Self-Talk

You’ve probably heard the saying before about being your biggest critic. Unfortunately, it’s easy to believe negative self-talk, especially when it comes to parenting. If you’re hyper-critical of your parenting skills, it’s essential to fight back against those negative words.

First, decide if you’re setting realistic expectations for yourself. You’re only human, and you’re allowed to make mistakes. Beyond that, though, you can only stretch yourself so thin. If your expectations or standards are too high, you’ll never reach them. Don’t set yourself up for failure.

When you do start to feel those negative thoughts creeping in, try to replace them with something positive. Tell yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you did the best you could today.

Don’t Allow Your Past to Dictate Your Present

Some parents feel like failures because they’re holding on to negative experiences from their childhood.

Maybe you had parents who weren’t around much as a child. Or, perhaps it was a tense or dysfunctional environment. Wanting to do better for your children or ensure they don’t have the same experience is excellent.

But if you’re projecting your own traumatic experiences without acknowledging them, it could make you more self-critical. You might start to compare yourself to your parents or upbringing and feel even worse.

Focus on Your Strengths

If you spend most of your time focusing on your weaknesses and what you consider to be “failures,” you can get stuck in that negative thought cycle.

Instead, focus on your strengths. Even if you’re feeling like a complete failure, there’s likely at least one positive thing you can acknowledge about your parenting abilities. If you want to take it a step further, write that strength down. Then, commit to finding another one and another.

Before long, you’ll have a list of strengths you may have never considered before. Or, maybe they were just being blocked by the negative self-talk we touched on earlier.

Having a tangible list of your strengths to refer back to can help you when you’re struggling

with feelings of failure.

Talk to Someone

As a parent, it’s essential to have some support. Your feelings of failure might cause you to feel overwhelmed and stressed. They may even lead to anxiety or depression. Having a support system can help to take some of that burden away.

If you’re struggling, however, you may benefit from professional help. Talking to a therapist can help you better to understand the root of your feelings of failure. When you’re able to do that, you can learn the best strategies for fighting back against those feelings.

It’s important to understand, no matter what else you might get from this post, that you are not failing as a parent. Perfection shouldn’t be anyone’s standard since it isn’t achievable. All any parent can do is their personal best. If your feelings of failure are getting in the way of that, feel free to contact me for more support. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here. Together, we can get to the roots of perfectionism and feelings of failure and help you to feel better.

To learn more about how counseling can help you during your parenting journey, please click here.

COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.


Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!


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