You Have Failed As A Parent. Really?

Yesterday, I’d written about the parenting fail of not buckling your child in their infant safety seat.  That post was inspired by a thread on my home message board.  While there are a couple of truly heinous instances of parenting fail, most of the comments added are things that wouldn’t exactly cause a reasonable person to point and say “You have failed as a parent.”

Sure, maybe some of them aren’t sterling examples of good parenting skills, but really, I can’t say that you have failed as a parent because you let your dog lick the baby.  Honestly, with Winston the Wonder Chihuahua in my house, I’ve already realized that trying to get your dog to keep his tongue to himself is often a losing battle.  At this point, I just try to keep the dog from licking Norton’s face and hands.  Anything else is pretty much fair game.

Other instances that mothers cited when posting in the bad mommy thread were letting their babies co-sleep.  Okay, fine, I’m not a fan of baby bed sharing.  I feel that it’s a nasty habit in terms of being hard to break (I co-slept until Kindergarten, and so did my oldest child), plus it’s not safe for me to do this in my house.  But, then again, I also tend to follow the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics to the point of insanity.

However, there’s a whole school of parenting thought that centers around concepts like baby bed sharing and babywearing.  I’m not going to say to someone that you have failed as a parent because you’re into attachment parenting.  Just because it’s not right for me or my family doesn’t mean that it’s not right for you.  I’m not willing to slam your parenting skills because you follow the advice of a different doctor.  I just hope that you at least attempt to follow Dr. Sears’ guidelines for safe baby bed sharing.

Another common one that was listed in the “I’m a bad mommy” thread was letting babies sleep in the swing.  I confess, I’m guilty of that one.  You know what?  He doesn’t sleep very well or very long in his crib, even though we’ve set the mattress up on an incline.  He doesn’t sleep at all in his pack n play.  He seems to be showing signs of infant reflux.

I’m not going to apologize or refer to myself as a bad parent because I want to sleep and not have my kid covered in baby barf all the time.  I’m not going to apologize for wanting food to come out the back end after digestion instead of out of the top end before digestion.

In short, give yourself a break.  Ninety percent of the time, whenever you think that you have failed as a parent in the infant stage, you haven’t.  But if you did commit a major act of parenting fail and post that you are a “bad mommy” because of it, don’t be surprised when people agree with you.

How do you convince yourself to give yourself a break on minor parenting flops?

Originally published on What to Expect on April 13, 2010.