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Celebrating Failure

At work the other day, I was pulled into a conversation with a discouraged and defeated colleague who was feeling like a failure at the whole parenting gig. Her tired eyes looked up at me as she sipped her much-needed coffee and she said, “Frank, how do you do this so well? You seem to have it all together and in control… and you even have time to write a monthly fatherhood column!”

Little did she know the inner turmoil I was feeling that moment, so I sat down next to her and we talked.

Earlier that week, I got a note from my four-year-old’s teacher about how aggressive my son is being on the yard and that he punched one of his friends in the stomach. A day later, I found myself signing two incident reports at daycare because my two-year-old decided that biting was a normal part of toddler problem solving. My mind flashed through scenes at home where they fight over the same toy (that wasn’t touched in months!), I’m policing time-outs, and agonizing over the dinners they don’t eat, and how quickly I lose my patience over the endless whining, crying, and occasional screeching. Where did I go wrong?

We’ve all been there. We know the feeling all too well – those days where we feel we are failing at parenting.

In the isolating world of social media, there is unspoken pressure to always show your best accomplishments, your most proud successes, and the happiest photos of your kids. We fall into the rabbit hole of portraying this ideal view of ourselves online and unconsciously comparing ourselves to other “award-winning” parents. Let’s take a step back and keep in mind that it often takes about 64 attempts to get that just-right pic and I can’t help but wonder why some parents feel the need to post these perfectly staged statuses so frequently. I also believe that many of us have endured our fair share of parenting fails so we feel the need to celebrate those little successes when they happen. We’ve all done it, we’re all guilty, and it’s OK.

So this month I want to celebrate the failures – the parenting failures – the times where we feel too tired to do the right thing, the times when we’re riding out the tantrum storm in the grocery store, the times that we’ve lost our cool and yelled at our kids, the times that we’ve turned on a screen just to get 30 minutes of peace and quiet.

Parenting is supposed to be hard work and I take comfort in knowing that my efforts will pay off in the end… they’d better!

Frank Emanuele is a proud father of two boys, a special education teacher, and a director of Dad Club London.


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