When You Feel Like You Have Failed at Parenting


This picture was taken a couple of months ago. We were having a very rough morning with Phoebie and when I had had enough of her tantrums, I made her go cool off in her room before I sat down with her to talk to her. As I looked at her, it felt as if time had fast-forwarded to when Phoebie is a teenager.Every child goes through different phases and with each phase, they bring different sets of challenges to their parents. Not everyone understands or knows what parents struggle with. Even people who are parents themselves don’t know what other parents are going through.

Phoebie is in a phase where she expresses her displeasure in a whiny way. When we remind her to eat, she sometimes make grunting noises. If we get to a point of telling her, “If you don’t…”, she whines and sometimes screams “I want to eat!!”. When she does that, I always tell her, “Don’t just tell me, do it. There’s no use in you telling me when you don’t do it.”

In this phase she is going through, she also gets rude at times. She shouts her answers and doesn’t always want to greet family members and friends she meet. It irks me because I have to keep reminding her about her manners. 
Not everyone says it to me, but there have been family members who have said to me, “Oh, she’s still like that?”. Now, I really don’t know what that is supposed to mean because as far as I can observe, that family member’s children have done worse before. Perhaps amnesia hit and that part was forgotten.

While that part of the phase she is currently going through gets annoying, there is also the sweet and affectionate side of her. She warms up to people easily and when it’s people she’s familiar with, she hugs them and wants to play with them. Phoebie is also a very affectionate sister. She tries to comfort her brother whenever he cries and never fails to do things to make him laugh, even if it means she has to do goofy stuff.

I wish, I really wish, that people see that side of Phoebie more.

Much as I don’t want to care about the expressions on family members’ and friends’ faces (especially those who don’t have children themselves), I can’t help but feel like I have failed as a parent whenever Phoebie erupts into one of her moods. I wish people could see how hard I try every single day to remind Phoebie to be a nice friend. I wish people could hear how much I tell Phoebie that no one likes a child who is rude. 

I wish people who make fast comments on Phoebie’s tantrums could feel my heart aching every time I use drastic measures like grunting back at her when her tantrums have made me so mad and left me in despair because I didn’t know how else to teach her.

I wish people would realize that sometimes it isn’t that parents aren’t doing anything about their child’s misbehaviour but it is that parents get tired and run out of ways to teach their child.

I wish people would realize that children may be little human beings but they too have a mind of their own and that they are learning to make decisions. Children don’t always feel like agreeing with what their parents say, no matter what kind of method the parents use.

I wish people would realize that things they say have an impact on parents who have tried hard every single day to “tame” that child who is going through what seems like a challenging phase. I wish that people would realize what they say can make these parents feel like sh*t and failures.

I wish people who are quick to think that parents do nothing when the children throw tantrums or scream know that these parents may be tired from repetitive warnings they have issued. 

I wish people would know how often I have had to do this lately – to have a hug-out with my crying daughter after an intense talk about how displeased I am that she has driven me up the wall and almost through the ceiling. I wish people would know that it pains and aches me when my daughter is crying as I hug her.

I wish I could care less about how people think or what people say about my children because I know I try so hard to teach my children as best as I can. 

I wish people know how hard it is not to care about what family members and friends say about how my children behave because these people are important to me.

I wish I could stop reminding Phoebie to focus on eating at meal times and about her manners because the more I have to remind her, the more I question if I have failed at parenting her. 

I wish I could feel better about my parenting skills without being judged. 


10 thoughts on “When You Feel Like You Have Failed at Parenting

  1. Hey xiuhui, i may not be a parent but stay strong. Just remember, the only people whose opinions matter are yours, your husband’s and your childrens’. And honestly, her difficult phase, i mean come on, we’re been there, how often have we whined and been a complete horror as kids, despite our parents best efforts. Take it easy! Hugs. You’re doing a great job šŸ˜€

  2. I know how u feel, especially SAHM. But sometimes kids are just kids. I feel that at a certain extent, yes, they understand but not all the time, she is still young that’s what my mum always says. And sometimes I do agree. She is the oldest of the 2, maybe you are expecting a certain expectations from her. It’s difficult, especially at certain times, you also have to be firm in your stand. Don’t feel bad, I also feels that I have not done good enough, especially on the manner & discipline. My kids are whinny too. But each child is different, only you know them best. She is a good girl, stubborn at times, I guess.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, April. I think it always helps to know I am not struggling alone. Sometimes I wish there’s an on/off button on the kids. Haha… But of course, I wouldn’t trade my kids for a robotic child. Sigh… Just have to bite my lips and press on.

  3. Comments are always there. Dun talk about relatives, even from the very person who born you. It’s one thing to say dun let these comments bother you but it’s hard to take when they do come. Know that you have done what you could and have tried to rectify the situation the best you can. At the end of the day, only yourself and your children know how much you have done and you’ll see the results. Hang on there. Parenting is indeed the toughest job in the world cos the you are bringing up another human being too be the best person. It’s not too be taken lightly, and definately people would wanna pass judgment. Just know that God is the ultimate judge and He will let you know if yoy have done well. Jia you!

    • Thanks Dawn. You know, more than half the time when I am at the verge of bursting, I am screaming in my head, “Lord! I need wisdom!!! Help!!” Haha… Maybe this is one way to help me walk closer with the Lord too. Positive reframing. Hahaha…

  4. You are great! You leave your work to impact and nurture the children. Take heart, parenting is a long long journey and you are not alone in it.
    Press on and know that you gave your best and you are doing great! Don’t allow comments and remarks of other put you down.
    There will be times you feel like giving up but know they are your precious.

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