Hands up if you’ve ever felt like a failed mother or parent? Yup, my hands are definitely going high up and once in a while, when I’m deep in thoughts, I still feel like I failed terribly. And I’m still trying to make up for it.

Of course, feeling like a bad mum is normal, especially when your child just told you that they hate you and every-other-terrible-hateful-words they say! 

PS: It feels like karma on my end. Can never forget how my mother acted out when I told her something similar. I was so sad that I wished I could take my words back – my mum wasn’t herself for days.

If you feel like you’ve failed as a mother or that you’re a bad mum, well, I have no idea if this is any consolation, but you’re not alone. However, certain things don’t make you a failed mother, and those are the things I want to talk about in this post.

These are things that a “bunch of retarded persons” claim to not make you a good mother, and here they go: 

1. You used a surrogate mother!

How on earth this is something that people shame others about amazes me! Going for surrogacy for whatsoever reason is okay; this is the 21st century and if you can’t or don’t want to carry a baby for 9 months, then, by all means, do what works for you.

Does this annoy the people around you, or do they throw jabs and subs your way? Then, please take a deep breath and remember that their outdated opinion does not count. It never did, and it never will.

2. Caesarean section vs vaginal birth

Recently,  one of the many mommyhood Instagram pages I follow got a message from a “bittered” woman who was telling her that she should stop making women feel like giving birth via CS was okay and that vaginal birth initiates women into motherhood.

When I first saw that, I was confused. Are you telling me that we still have people, especially women who think like that? Yea, we still do, and they are a lot.

I sincerely don’t have the strength for such people. Vaginal birth doesn’t initiate anyone into motherhood – when did motherhood become a cult or a kappa club???

Having a CS doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’re a failed mother. BTW, isn’t CS more painful than vaginal birth again? My aunt, who has given birth via both methods, says CS is more painful.

Lest I forget, having an epidural is okay. Let no one shame you for going for an epidural or CS.

3. Opting for formula instead of breastfeeding

baby bottle

For starters, I think someone should please tell soon-to-be first-time mums who are enthusiastic about EBF (exclusive breastfeeding) that it doesn’t always work out as planned. It will protect some from the disappointment of not being able to breastfeed their little one.

Formula feeding your child doesn’t mean your child is going to be sick or unhealthy. Formula-fed babies are very much healthy and giving your baby formula also doesn’t affect how fast or slow they reach their developmental milestones.

Still not convinced? Go ask the little infant in my house who was formula fed and reached all of his developmental milestones way earlier than expected.

Here’s an article on formula feeding and breastfeeding and another one that puts things in perspective.

4. I yelled at my child

Okay, it gets tricky here but recently, someone mentioned that it’s not just about yelling (because we all yell) but it’s about what we do after yelling – can’t remember who said it but I got it from one of the parenting pages I follow on Instagram.

Yelling isn’t something that should be a part of our parenting ABCs, however, it’s something many parents struggle with. Yelling too often reflects an underlying problem – you might be overwhelmed, frustrated, and stressed out.

Beating yourself up for yelling isn’t going to make the problem go away. Rather, it worsens things for you and well, you’re going to do more yelling. Instead, focus on dealing with the underlying issue.

What’s stressing you out? Why do you feel overwhelmed? What emotions are you feeling? What can you do instead of yelling? Why do you feel out of control?

It doesn’t take one day to stop yelling, but with intentional effort, the yelling episodes will drastically reduce. Take it from one (almost ex-) yeller to another!

5. Is your child dealing with mental difficulties?

Who else is on this boat? When I first realized that I might have somewhat contributed to a child’s mental issues, I was beyond devastated. I felt so guilty, and I wished I had done things differently with her, but here’s something I want you to do: don’t be so hard on yourself.

The thing is that there’s no child out there who isn’t dealing with something. No child has a perfect life free of challenges or hurdles. And just because your child has to go for therapy doesn’t mean you’re a failed mother.

What should you do? Support your child as they go through this. Be a support system, and who knows, this might even be an opportunity to draw closer with your child.

Reminder: Having a child with mental difficulties doesn’t make you a failed mother.

How to deal with the “I’ve failed as a mother” feeling

Parenting is hard, and if you can’t help but feel like a parenting failure, here are a few things to do:

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself – there’s no perfect parent
  2. Breathe in, hold your breath for 3 seconds, and slowly breathe out
  3. Realize that going for unconventional choices like surrogacy, CS, and formula feeding doesn’t make you a terrible parent
  4. Have a tribe (not everyone likes mummy tribes, so …) you can talk, rant, and vent to!
  5. To avoid feeling overwhelmed with parenting, outsource the tasks that you can, and take care of yourself
  6. Reexamine your views on good parenting – what exactly does good parenting mean to you? Having kids with straight As or having an emotionally resilient child?
  7. Seek professional help – don’t be reluctant to see a therapist

Final words

Feeling like a parenting failure is a gut-wrenching feeling, but you don’t have to feel that way. Don’t let that feeling consume you.

Fight it and focus on building a healthier relationship with your child. You’re not a failed mother, so don’t let the perfect parent myth get to you!