“Your child misbehaves because you aren’t strict enough.”
We’ve all heard the comments on our parenting.
But, are you aware of the inner dialog they might create?
Your inner dialog may sound like this: “I must be a bad mom. It must be my fault.”
Does this sound familiar to you? You may be dealing with insecurity.
Parenting insecurity, remember bringing home your first sweet baby. You were both feeling insecure, wanting to do it all right and not knowing exactly what to do. You may have also been more accepting of feeling this way because everything was new to you. Slowly you grew more comfortable and confident.
You also somehow managed to survive the newborn season of life, you were sleep-deprived, without a shower and with a messy house, not feeding yourself well and generally overall just trying to keep everyone alive, right?
Parenting special needs is a unique journey on its own. It’s kind of like a constant feeling of bringing home a newborn baby. That wave of insecurity you felt as a new mom comes constantly crashing into you as a special needs mom. Just like being in the ocean, every time you stand up another wave comes crashing in to pull you down.
You notice differences in your child and a wave of insecurity hits you.
You compare your child to other children their age.
Your child gets diagnosed and a new wave of insecurity hits.
Your mother, mother in law, cousin, or best friend says something critical about your parenting.
You start therapy for your child and all your insecurities surface as you pour your heart out to a stranger.
Your child conquers one thing but starts something new, which you guessed it a new wave of insecurity comes with that.
It’s a constant wave of insecurity against you and sometimes we can be our own worst critic. Our inner voice has the power to either tear us down or build us up.
If you are dealing with this, it’s no wonder you feel tired and exhausted all the time, right?
No matter how hard you try to internally fight off feeling like a failure like you can’t do anything right it wears on you. It wears you down.
So, what can we do about this? It’s just like being a newborn mom and growing into your confidence, you can work on this in the middle of any season of parenting. You can learn to recognize your insecurity, overcome them and build your confidence in yourself and your parenting.
This isn’t an overnight fix or an easy fix for that matter. However, I know from experience that it is worth it. The other side of insecurity is a stronger mom with a deep sense of security. Security in who she is and the parenting journey she’s on.
Just like surviving being a newborn mom, you can survive your seasons of special needs parenting. Every season and wave of insecurity you get through is consistently building your resilience.
It can be challenging when every day feels like a failure. I know from experience working on yourself not only benefits you but your child as well. It takes a strong commitment to challenge those inner thoughts.
How to Fight Insecurity
1. Clean out your social media. What is influencing you?
Take a good look at what is influencing you, especially on social media. Make sure your newsfeed is filled with content that is going to uplift you and encourage you. I am not going to lie, I am no stranger to not following well-meaning people who post memes about how kids were parented back in their day.
Do: Follow people or brands who are in the thick of it just like you, people who are real and honest about parenting. Follow people who encourage you to keep going, inspire you to try something new and challenge you to be better every day.
Don’t: Follow people or brands who think they have all the answers, know how to fix your kid or make you feel like you are doing everything wrong. Don’t follow people who post advice for typical parenting that doesn’t work for your atypical parenting.
2. Cut out your inner critic.
Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Refuse to listen to your inner critic. Start telling yourself the reasons why you are a great parent. More importantly, start believing those reasons! Keep that list close by, write it on your mirror or post it near your bed and read it often.
Print out our affirmation cards and stick them wherever you might need a reminder. Don’t feel bad if you need a reminder often!!
3. Let go of unnecessary expectations.
Are you a perfectionist? We perfectionists often have high expectations of ourselves. Think about potty training. There is nothing we can do to hurry that process along. We may expect to have it done by a certain age. But truly, it will happen when it happens. Expectations are like that. They unnecessarily push us outside of what we need, or our child needs. Think about areas that you have allowed unnecessary expectations and brainstorm ways you can change the situation to help yourself and your child be more successful.
4. Stop Comparing.
Comparison is the thief of joy. This saying couldn’t be truer. There is nothing quicker than the power of comparison to take your joy and breed insecurity, guilt, shame and a whole host of other unwanted emotions.
I can easily get myself into the trap of comparing myself, my parenting and my child to anyone else. I forget that being our unique selves on our journey is ok. It’s in our human nature to want to be like everyone else. If you happen to be so lucky to have a competitive spirit you may be even more prone to this.
Comparing your parenting and your child’s life to neurotypical children or even advice for neurotypical children, was something I struggled with deeply. The sooner you recognize this and start focusing on what you and your child can do the better. Your security is going to be built on that!
5. Accept that this a journey.
This is a journey of progress. Yes, your child may still have wild out of control meltdowns. But, did you, in the face of your child’s behavior feel less like a failure? Did you feel stronger in who you are as a mom? Did you feel more like you’ve got this and less like you’re drowning? It takes time to build resilience in the middle of behavior challenges.
6. Redefine what success as a Mom looks like to you.
Too often we let things that we’ve heard from others define our parenting. One of the things I grew up hearing was about keeping your child dressed warm because if you didn’t you weren’t a good Mom. That became a big insecurity for me. Here, I was in Florida in the summer with a baby dressed in long sleeves. Needless to say, I may have been the only one, however, to redeem myself I will say that I at least felt like the air conditioning was freezing and that I was always wearing a sweatshirt! I am also a Midwest girl who is always cold so that may have made a difference too. (Obviously, I am still insecure about this LOL!)
The point is that ultimately only you can define what it means to be a good mom for your children. In some seasons of life that means that everyone has clean clothes to wear, food was given to them (even if it wasn’t eaten) and that everyone is alive.
You are already on the way to become a more confident Mom.
I remember when I first started dealing with my insecurity as a mom. We had a very active toddler and for most tasks I needed to get her through, it was a battle. I remember trying to get her dressed and repeating to myself, “I am the Mom.” It was a simple reminder to me that I could do this. I am her Mom and despite the difficulty that I could do it.
Now, just to give you a picture getting my child dressed was similar to trying to dress an alligator. Literally! If I could go back, I would tell myself what a good mom I was. I would tell myself that I am doing a good job, smile more and stress less. I would feel less like a terrible mom if she didn’t have long sleeves on in cold weather and be more secure in the fact that she has clothes on, and that in itself is a miracle.
Start watching for ways you are parenting based on insecurity. Think about why you have that insecurity, how it got there and evaluate it. Start reprogramming your inner critic with our affirmations cards.