When your children begin to walk, talk, and grow into their personalities, you get to see little versions of yourself. It might be one of the most rewarding facets of parenthood. You and your partner get to pass on your best qualities and behavior, or at least try to. You pridefully watch them grow in your image, on a solid foundation of your values and beliefs.
But it also means you can pass on some of your less-than-ideal qualities. Sometimes, looking at your child is like looking into a mirror to see your reflection. Through your children, you sometimes see things you may not like about yourself. As a parent, you become more aware that not only do you need to teach your children better, but you need to teach yourself too.
For example, when I am upset or angry, I am a classic “door slammer” or, at a minimum, a “shut-doors-and-cabinets-really-fast-and-loudly” person. I know shutting doors angrily won’t solve any problems. But I didn’t realize how often I did it or how undesirable it was to display this behavior until my then 5-year-old slammed a door when he was upset.
I’m not saying to beat ourselves up for our mistakes and character flaws. But we should recognize that through motherhood, you can not only become a better parent with time, but also a better person. Maybe for you, it’s not door-slamming. Maybe it’s swearing, how you treated someone, your lack of patience while waiting in line at Target, or the amount of time you spend on your phone. It can be anything you see magnified through the lens of parenting. Let’s face it: It’s a bit uncomfortable to watch your child mimic an undesirable behavior that you know they learned from you.
Motherhood is beautiful and rewarding. But it’s not always easy, and it’s definitely messy (literally and figuratively). Being a mom has pushed me toward being a better person. I am not going to pretend I am perfect. In the throes of my emotions, I admit I’ve slammed a door in front of my kids since. But since the first time I realized my son was picking up on this behavior, I take pause when I know I am not acting my best. It turns into an opportunity to have a frank talk about how I know I can do better and how to admit when I make a mistake.
While we don’t want to see our children take on our flaws, I believe the opportunity to teach your children that no one is perfect is also an important lesson. Owning mistakes and choosing to learn from them is an equally valuable lesson for children and parents alike.