My sister and I joke that we second-guess just about every choice we make—especially about parenting! It’s a nearly constant game of shoulda, coulda, woulda, rolled into big regrets and little ones. I should’ve started giving my children chores when they were younger. Could I have said yes to my son instead of no when he wanted to stay up late tonight? Would it have been better for my daughter if she had gone to another school?
At some point, reliving my parenting choices got to be too much. I needed to cut myself some slack for the not-so-good decisions I’d made and give myself credit for doing my best and basing my parenting on loving my children well. To get out of this cycle, I came up with a mom’s guide to making good choices and living with less regret in your parenting. It comes down to these 4 steps.
1. Seek guidance.
Making good choices is a lot easier when you’ve asked for and received guidance from a good source. For me, those good sources are God and my wise and trusted friends—and, of course, my sister, too. Asking God for help reminds me of the big picture and my goals in my parenting. Running my options by my inner circle helps me refine my course and benefit from their experience and wisdom.
I also look to experts I trust (authors Susan Merrill at iMOM, Dr. Scott Turansky, and Dr. Meg Meeker are all go-to sources for me) and add their perspectives to the mix.
2. Consider your options.
Sometimes even the best of friends can steer us wrong, and not intentionally. Maybe they’re not really able to put themselves in our shoes. We have to be comfortable on both a moral level and a mom level with our parenting decisions. Maybe everyone else is letting their kids do X, Y, or Z. Even though it’s the norm, if it doesn’t jibe with who your family is, then it’s not a good move for you.
We have to be comfortable on both a moral level and a mom level with our parenting decisions.
Other times, you’ll have a gut feeling that a choice is right in spite of the advice you’re getting. Or, a choice might seem great on the surface, but something about it keeps nagging at you. If that’s where you are in the process, take more time and see what other considerations should come into play.
3. Move forward.
Once you’ve gathered input, make the best decision you can based on the information you have and take action. And to get to the point where you actually do make a choice, push through the fear of failure. What if I volunteer at my son’s school and the teacher doesn’t like me? Or the fear of embarrassment. What if I sign my daughter up for club soccer and she doesn’t make the A team? She’ll be crushed and I’ll be embarrassed to face the other moms at practice.
Remember, perfect is the enemy of the good when taking action, especially when making big decisions. Our desire to make just the right decision can be paralyzing, hindering your ability to make a choice in the first place.
4. Live and learn.
You learn from your good parenting choices and your bad choices. It’s more fun to learn from the good ones, but those bad ones can teach us a lot too. When a choice does turn out badly, go back and see what you could’ve done differently. Did you really listen to your friend’s input or had you already made up your mind? Did you make the safer choice out of fear of failure and embarrassment and it turned out to be a mistake?
Don’t examine your choices with the intent of beating yourself up over bad choices (moms have enough to feel guilty about!), but do consider what you can learn and move on. Leave those choices behind and get ready to make some more because, goodness knows, when you’re a mom, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to get it right!
So tell us, how do you make the best choices you can?