My Biggest Parenting Mistake Ever

Today is the day I re-launch the Baby Rabies Blog YouTube channel! Note: it’s not the “Baby Rabies” channel because someone else has that one, so if you search for it, be sure to search for Baby Rabies BLOG. Also, when I say “re-launch” I think that’s a little generous. I never really had much of a steady  YouTube channel before. It was more like a library where I stored videos that I intended to mostly promote on Facebook, but now that I’ve been doing YouTube for over 9 months for Happy Loud Life, I feel like I can handle a for-real YT channel for Baby Rabies, too.

Related: Your Baby Registry Doesn’t Have To Be So Stressful

I hesitated to start off with this video in particular because it makes me feel really vulnerable. My mind immediately jumped to all the awful things people would say about me in the comments, and I wanted to push it off and kick things off with something more… fluffy. But, the best moments with Baby Rabies readers have always come from raw and vulnerable moments when I’ve said what I needed to say, knowing some people would judge me for it, and doing my best to focus on the positive connections of shared experiences with readers who need to hear their own experiences mirrored in what I’m saying, or who genuinely learn from what I’ve shared.

So let’s talk mistakes.  What’s your biggest parenting mistake so far?

I think it’s important we talk about these things! Not to feel ashamed. And not to get into that weird thing where people try to one-up each other with how, no really, they are the worst parent.  Do you know what I speak of? Such a bizarre spiral some conversations get into.

But to just be honest with each other, and to talk about what we’ve learned from our mistakes.

I’ll go first. My biggest parenting mistake ever… so far, like 10 years into this, is over-parenting and over-disciplining my first child.

Oh how I miss that baby face!

When I say I over-disciplined, I don’t want you to think I mean, like, I abused him. What I mean is I didn’t give him space to learn the natural consequences of his bad behavior, and I treated all levels of “bad” behavior with the same seriousness.

I am certain that I experienced postpartum anxiety and OCD to a degree after he was born (something I’ve had after the birth of each of my 4 babies, but was first diagnosed with after my 2nd baby was 9 months old). The way my anxiety played out a lot of times was my paranoia about my toddler/young child misbehaving in public and other people’s perception of that.

In the video, I give the example of taking him out to eat, and then spending the whole time at dinner shushing him, correcting him, and generally feeling very tense and on edge. I would even shush his happy noises. And here’s the thing, I’m certain there will be people who read this and maybe comment or at least say to others, “Well you SHOULD do that when you take a toddler to a restaurant!” And those were the voices I was very, very concerned about when my son was younger. Not just in the restaurant, but in the grocery store, at the playground, literally everywhere.

Should children be obnoxious and screaming in public? In theory, no. We, as parents, have an obligation to teach them how to behave in public, for sure. I’m not excusing that. But by giving so much weight to those voices and those perceived judgements IN THAT MOMENT, we lost sight of the long-term lesson. My son came to expect that I would always be at level 10, stressed out, and correcting his every move. Always.

So now, when I do need to convey the seriousness of a situation, I feel that I have to escalate things even higher. And that’s something he and I are both working on. I need him to HEAR me without me having to yell at him. And I also want him to experience a mom who is relaxed and happy when we are out. That was a rare thing for him when he was younger.

Instead of over-correcting him and over-disciplining him, I wish I would have let the small things slide more, and not let my fear of other’s perception of me as a mother cloud my rationality when he did act up.

On the over-parenting front, I wish I would have let him be bored more! Y’all know I say that all the time now to parents of babies. Let them be bored! I remember feeling actual guilt over reading a magazine while he was crawling around the living room.

I think some of this came from being a fresh stay-at-home-mom, and feeling like he was my JOB. So I filled his days with Gymboree (which, admittedly, was more for me anyway) and playdates, and story time, and walks, and the playground. I loved playing with my little boy so much. I don’t regret that, but I do wish I felt more comfortable back then letting him explore on his own. I wish I hadn’t felt pressured to manufacture magic for him.

Over-parenting- that’s my biggest mistake… so far. I would love to hear what you think yours is if you feel comfortable sharing, Feel free to either comment on this blog post, or head to the YouTube video and comment there.

And I would LOVE if you’d hit the “Subscribe” button while you’re there! I’m aiming for videos on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Let me know what you’d like to see me talk about or review of show off!

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  1. Omg I can soooo relate to this..i went one step further and didnt leave the house. It was too stressful. Way too stressful. My girls are 15 months apart and i had significant PPA and PPD and then went through a separation
    So now as a result my girls dont like to play outside and cant ride bikea, which riddles me with guilt. Theu are 5 and 6 now and life if much better but that is my biggest parenting lesson.
    Thanks so much for sharing Jill x

  2. I can relate to this on a deep level. Thank you for sharing. I am still repairing the damage I did to my relationship with my first born due to anxiety and the need to “be in control” of my toddler (lol) and the opinions I thought others had of my ability as a mother. Forget that!! Now my son and I have a wonderful bond but I regret spending the energy worrying about what others might think and not just allowing him to be. I too feel the shame of this mistake but we are all learning and growing and I’m forgiving myself.

    Having a second kid gave me the perspective that -guess what- I am not in control, which has been difficult and freeing. I am a guide to these humans but that’s the best I can hope for. They will never be docile or “perfectly” behaved. They are human, and they too are learning and growing.

    Now when I talk to parents expecting baby #2 the best advice I can give is to go back in time and ignore the first kid. At least give them some space!

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