Mom and daughter smiling together and moving forward after a bad parenting moment

How To Move Forward After Bad Parenting Moments

Have you ever wondered how to move forward after bad parenting moments? Maybe you lost control and lashed out in anger at your child. Or out of frustration, you doled out a punishment that was too harsh. Or perhaps you neglected to meet a legitimate need your child was trying to express to you. 

Not to excuse it, but rest assured we’ve all been there, done that. Every parent has moments where they lose their cool and react in a less-than-stellar way.  

I must have been around eight years old at the time. And there I was having a grand ole time at my grandparent’s house playing with my cousins (probably running through the house like an unholy terror) when in the midst of this merriment, my dad thought it the perfect time to scold me for something I was doing at the time. I can’t remember now just what it was that I was getting reprimanded about, but I’ve never forgot how I said out loud (after he left the room, of course), “I will never do that to my kids when I grow up.” Yeah, well, we all know how that turned out, right? 

Oh, I was so wise and mature for my age of eight years old. I never could understand why the adults in my life couldn’t recognize that! All kidding aside, though, as much as I remember that little incident, I also remember the time when my parents scolded me for something I didn’t do. And the thing I remember most about that particular incident was my parents having me sit beside them and my mom putting her arm around me and how they apologized to me for their error.


Have you ever asked yourself, “Am I a bad parent?” It’s easy to feel like your parenting skills are subpar in moments where you feel at your wits’ end or after a terrible parenting choice. But the fact that you would even question yourself on it is a good sign that you’re not a bad parent. 

In one way or another, every one of us has been wounded by our imperfect role models. And for the most part, as a parent, we don’t always realize or intend to cause our children pain. Nevertheless, because of our humanly limited ability to care and respond correctly at all times, it happens. So the question is not, am I a bad parent, but rather, what am I going to do after I realize I’ve made a mistake.


1. Own it and apologize to your children. 

Hey, we all make mistakes. Unfortunately, though, many parents are uncomfortable apologizing to their children. Maybe because parents think they are always supposed to be “right.” Or perhaps it will lessen their children’s respect for them; when in fact, it does the exact opposite.

A simple and honest admission to a mistake and an acknowledgment that you feel bad about it and will work hard not to let it happen again will, in fact, foster respect from your children. There’s no need for shame in apologizing. Try it; you’ll both end up feeling better.

2. Forgive yourself for making poor parenting choices.

As parents, we all do things that we regret. Why? Because there isn’t, hasn’t, and never will be the perfect parent. And every last one of us knows there are no perfect kids either. For sure, our little angels are born with an innate ability to push every single button we possess. 

So, after we take responsibility for the bad moments and learn from our mistakes, it’s important to forgive ourselves. Therefore, helping us to move forward after bad parenting moments with a fresh perspective.

3. Acknowledge that parenting is an ever-evolving work in progress. 

Parenting not only requires endless energy and patience but continuous learning as well. We might look at others as having this parenting gig figured out, but the truth is, we are all on a learning curve. And sometimes, the curve can become pretty steep.

We all start parenting with zero experience. And if you have more than one child, you quickly find out that each child has their own personality and responds differently to the same strategies you employ. The key is to be open and flexible with alternative methods when the ones you are using are ineffective.

And as our children grow, we’ll continually need to figure out how best to support their mental and emotional needs. The topics may change over time, but learning to be a more effective parent never will.

Successful parents are not the ones that have never struggled, but the ones that never gave up, despite the struggles. 

Indeed, parenting is stressful. There’s no doubt about it. And unfortunately, guilt and parenthood will always go hand in hand. But the good news is with these three tips; you can recover and move past the guilt and shame that often comes after making bad parent choices. If, however, you would like additional support in moving forward, working with an anxiety coach can be of great help. They can also help you discover and master new ways to handle stress, which in turn, will allow you to make better decisions so you can experience the absolute joy of parenting.

Hi, I’m Kris Henderson, LPC. I want you to know that I am here to help. The easiest way to start taking control of your anxiety is to take the FREE 5-Day Anxiety Detox Challenge. If you would like more personalized support, I invite you to contact me or make an appointment online.Together, let’s work on strategies to manage the stress that comes with raising kids. I’m confident the more you experience the good times with your kids, the easier it will become to handle your parenting challenges with grace.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.