Ask 1-on-1 Coaching: Do You Beat Yourself up as a Parent?

Posted June 18, 2009 by

Photo of tina-wakefield

If you’re constantly beating yourself up as a parent, it’s likely that you’re feeling powerless to change your child’s behavior — and ill-equipped for the job.  But trust me, it’s normal to feel uneasy or uncomfortable with some of the choices you make as a parent.  At some point, it’s important to move past those feelings of inadequacy and guilt and look for information and tools that will give you the sense that you’re taking charge and addressing the problem.  Let’s face it, sometimes it’s just easier to blame ourselves, someone else, or something else as opposed to looking for solutions and then working to put them into play.

Some parents do get ‘stuck’ in their feelings of powerlessness; usually, the more they label themselves a “failure” the more discouraged they become.  No one can stop you from dwelling on mistakes, but at the end of day it won’t lead to any kind of change.  In The Total Transformation, James Lehman talks about how most of us are “good enough” parents with good intentions for what we want for our children.   When you start to identify areas of weakness, I know that can be overwhelming. (At first, you might feel like your list is endless!)

In my opinion, if you’re in this situation, you have two options: you can continue to take parenting shortcuts which may solve the short-term problem or you can pick a place to start and take small steps.  There is no shame in that. Driven by our love for our children, we grapple with the tremendous responsibility to nurture our kids in a way that allows them to thrive.  Mistakes are a valuable piece in that process; each one you make lends itself to uncovering what will work better next time around.  Remember, it’s just as essential that you acknowledge your own successes as well as praising your child for their efforts.

Personally, becoming a mom has given me the opportunity to face a whole new brand of challenges that have definitely shaken me out of the cozy and familiar lifestyle I enjoyed pre-kids.  In fact, it took awhile to bolster myself up to take the leap into the vast and unpredictable world of parenting!  One thing I work on is identifying, storing up and investing my strengths in my “momma bank” so that I can make a withdrawal on the rainy days. This gives me momentum to move through the rough patches.  I wanted to remind all you parents out there that if you haven’t made any deposits in your own bank lately, take some time and recognize what you’ve done as a parent that was difficult for you and celebrate that.

Please feel free to share a recent shining moment in your parenting experience. It doesn’t matter how big or small — each positive step is a step, after all.


As a 1-on-1 Coach, Tina Wakefield coached parents on techniques from the Total Transformation, as well as Empowering Parents' other programs, for over 8 years. Tina is also a mother and stepmother.

Popular on Empowering Parents

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Tina Wakefield Report

    Chris H:

    Your comment was really touching. I think it’s important when you can catch and hang onto those quiet moments — before you pass out yourself! In the stillness, you get a chance to reflect on things to appreciate and remember about yourself and your son — I think it’s easier to see the truth in those moments when you’re not caught up in the commotion of day-to-day life.

  2. MaryLynn Report

    To present
    Go to Alanon. Alanon and Transformation Program saving my sanity and life. If you don’t like the first meeting you go to , try another. It can be a refuge and a hope today.

  3. present Report

    I also beat myself up each day. It doesn’t help that I have inlaws and extended family telling me how I am doing everything wrong.

    I can completely relate to Ann Marie. My daughter is 19. She went to college last year. She has a boyfriend who is abusive and a drug addict. She is a beautiful and very intelligent. He followed her to college. Since she has left the house it is like she kept a list over the years that we didn’t approve of and she has done each one now.

    Our main concern is that she continues to put herself in harm’s way. We are heartbroken and devastated. She did wel in college the first semester as far as grades go but she has all incompletes for this last semester. We fear she has become involved with drugs.

    She has been lying and doing horrible things to herself and to this family since she was 14. I am desperate and I am scared for her.

    We had a big blow up at Easter and I have not talked to her.

    My inlaws and extended family think I should just get over myself and invite her and her druggie boyfriend to my home. I have two other teenagers at home. I am trying to protect them and not make the same mistakes.

    All I do is cry and live in fear. I am trying to find a counselor. I want a relationship with my daughter but I don’t know what to do. I don’t trust her.

    Anyone know where I should start?

  4. Dale Sadler Report

    Parenting is a battle. It is a journey. Everyday must be fought and everyday you must be able to say that you won. You know what is best and it is extremely difficult. I see kids at my middle school who have been labeled, “bad” by teachers, themselves, and their parents. What they want is someone to stand up to them and help them do better. They’ll fight the entire way but when the advice and the lectures start to make sense, they, and your children, will thank you for it.

  5. Ann Marie Report

    Our daughter just graduated from high school. She is almost eighteen. She hated the way I pushed her through high school since the 10th grade when we found out she had ADHD. We never knew all these years since it did not show until the work got too challenging for her, and we went to a professional to find out why she couldn’t keep up. She is angry about her biology and an acting-out teen. She has pointed out every thing she thinks I have done wrong since the age of 8. I can play that tape over and over in my head and bring back the memories of those incidents, but it will not help the here and now. My husband told me to stop fighting with her or she will have nothing to do with me after her 18th birthday in July. However, the last two years I had to call the police and do other things that James suggested when she threatened me and just wouldn’t let up. I told my husband that if she were doing it to him he would have done the same thing; since she was acting out at me and not him (who she likes better) I did what I had to do. She is settling down, mostly because she knows she can get away from home this fall at college. I am ready for 18 when she has to take more responsibility for herself that ever before, stop blaming me, and I can have the life I deserve instead of the arguing which is always about doing the right thing. I like the program and had to work it by myself… husband didn’t feel the need to use it. I really saved my life. Hang in there, all of you. The program took me two full years to do it right……I did not know that I had spoiled her rotten until age 16 since I thought I was being a good Mom .

  6. Integrity Mom Report

    The most motivating thing about the mistakes I’ve seen myself make is the vow to never let myself get in that same pit again. I started opening up to learning the minute I decided that the defiance from my 12 year old girl was NOT going away and that I was willing to do anything to get it to permanently improve. Guilt is best when it leads us to have a change of heart and make different decisions. I know the 2 most powerful changes I’ve seen in our power struggles are (1) Praying Scripture for her and (2) Making her struggle a fight about disobeying the rules, not me. I take myself out of it like this program suggests, and make it about her having consequences and her bad choices and what she’ll do different next time.

    Just recently I heard her correct her brother for his refusal to do as I asked. There is hope, just endure through the needed changes.

  7. Chris H. Report

    I have played and still feelguilty with myself just about every night caused by either an exceptionally tiresome day or an exceptionally bad transition to bed time. After the dust has settled, the screaming tantrum has stopped and my little boy (8 year old ADHDer) is fast asleep I go to his room, watch him for a minute, stroke his buzz cut head and tell him I know how much HE loves ME and kiss his head. My son didn’t ask for ADHD and it’s taken me a lot of tears, time and heartache to figure out that he WANTS to be good, he just can’t help himself sometimes.

  8. bobsmom Report

    I fight with the feelings of being a “bad” Mom each and everyday. It seems I have tried everything, and I still get neighbors complaining, teachers having a tough time, and my nerves shot by the end of the day. I am a single parent with not a lot of help from anyone. Finding time for myslef is very hard for me to do. I don’t have anyone that really wants to take my child because of his behavoir. He is the youngest and his 27 year old sister doens’t even want him, because she says “he’s a brat” to her children. I have had this problem of Power Stuggles since he was a toddler. If anyone has a starting point for me that would help. I will do anything to start some balance in our lives.

  9. Keith Wilcox Report

    You are right that many parents get caught up in their mistakes and consequently have a hard time acknowledging their successes. I think James is right that most of us are good parents who mean well for our kids. I applaud your promotion of positive self image for parents. It’s a trickle down effect for our kids.



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families