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Why self-compassion must come first: A note for parents

Although I usually write about useful ways to handle the challenges of parenthood to help parents shape their children’s behavior, today I want to talk more about the inner experience of parents with the extra weight of responsibility for other human beings on your shoulders.

As I often say, parenting is a very challenging job, a task with no defined end goal (children remain our kids for the rest of our lives and theirs). Oftentimes we as parents feel anxiety, insecurity, and immense doubt in the decisions we make for the sake of our children. We struggle when they struggle, and we are anxious because we see their difficulties or anticipate these. We often cave and feel not good enough compared to other parents.

In this context a very important concept in the attachment parenting seems particularly relevant: a “good enough parent”. The idea behind it is that our children do not need perfect parents; just good enough. This thought is very self-liberating as it reduces anxiety related to parenting, offers many second and third and fourth chances for repair and paves the road for self-compassion.

Self-compassion is exactly what we need to overcome anxiety and continue being good enough parents, the parents we would like our children to remember. When we can be kinder to ourselves, we are less anxious, more forgiving, and consequently, more patient towards others, first and fore