A few years ago, it happened to me—the experience that every parent goes through at least once.
I had a full cart of groceries—and a toddler in a full-on meltdown. Crying, screaming and making a scene that left me feeling upset and embarrassed.
But why did I feel that way?
I wondered what everyone else in the store was thinking about me as a parent. I wondered if there was a magic parenting technique for the situation that other parents knew, but I didn’t.
Sometimes as parents, we’re our own worst critics. We want to do everything right. But the truth is, there is no “right” way to parent a child.
“Parenting is individual, and there are lots of ways to do it successfully and it is each parent’s choice,” said Felicity Adams, M.D., of Carilion Clinic’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry department. “Even within the same family, you may have to parent different children in different ways.”
Your friends and family—and even strangers—may give you advice. You may feel judged or criticized at times. But the likelihood is that you’re doing a pretty good job.
“If you’re providing for your child’s needs in a loving way, then you’re already being a good parent,” said Dr. Adams. “There are many different ways to care for children well.”
So parents, give yourself a break. As long as you are caring for your child, you're doing just what you need to do. You’re doing one of the most important jobs in the world, and you’re doing it well.
There is no one right way to be a parent. So the next time you see a fellow mom or dad in the grocery store with a screaming toddler, remember that we've all been there. We all try our best, but none of us are perfect.
Remember, too, to take time to recharge from the challenges of parenting. If you need a little break from the stress, take a look at these tips from the Child Development Institute.