What Would You Do Differently if You Were Given A Parenting Do Over?

What Would You Do Differently if You Were Given a Parenting Do Over?

Being a parent is the hardest job we are given as adults. We don’t get a parenting guide on the steps to follow in order to be a great parent. We learn by trial and error the best way to raise our children, and learn a great deal by our mistakes.

Luckily children are resilient and turn out as decent, loving, and empathetic adults, despite our mistakes or faults.

No matter the age of your child, we all wish that if given the chance, we could be given a “parenting do over”. No parent is going to do things perfectly, but maybe by sharing some of the lessons we have learned, we can help other parents feel less alone. We have all of struggled at some point in our parenting journey.

Based on your comments, I would like to do a follow up blog, discussing some of the themes that come up in your comments and get a discussion going.

My parenting do over I wish I had, was to choose being a parent instead of a friend to my teenage children. In choosing to be their friend, I gave up my authority. I do believe that there is a way to have both, and I would like a do over to see if I could have found the right balance.

I asked my father this question, and he stated that if he was given a do over, he would have played with us more often as kids, instead of spending long nights at the office.

No matter what age your child is, if you were given a parenting do over, please share in the comment section below, and lets learn from each other! What would be your parenting do over?

I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years working in Community mental Health. I currently Supervise the Behavioral Health Benefit for an insurance company. I speak publicly on issues that affect mental health in the workplace.

31 Comments

  • Angela

    I hate admitting that I think this but I wish I didn’t have 5 children. Now, here’s the thing. I could never ever tell you which 2 or 3 kids i would “send back”!!!!! They are all amazing and unique in their own way and i love all of them as they are! I just feel that as an introvert, it’s been super hard to always be putting myself out there for my kids. I’m exhausted all the time, mentally. If I had had fewer children, I *imagine* i would have been a “better” parent (able to have more fun with my children) but I know that’s no guarantee. Sigh. This is something I honestly try to avoid thinking about.

    • Functional Randi

      Thank you so much for your feedback. Five children would require an immense amount of energy, time and patience. You should pat yourself on the back for the job you have done!

    • Snarky Mommy

      If I could have a parenting do over, I would worry less and enjoy the moment more. I would obsess less about whether they’re eating enough, sleeping enough or reaching milestones fast enough. And focus on being more present. ♥️

      • Functional Randi

        So far, I think this is what most parents are hoping to do. It’s so hard with all of the responsibilities of being a parent but so very important and so beneficial for both parents and their children. Thank you for commenting.

  • Beetrues

    Hi Randi,
    If I got a do over I would worry less about the small stuff. I would also learn to ask family and friends for help instead of trying to do everything myself, especially during the newborn months.

    • Mary cooney

      Another great thought provoking piece. If I had a do over in my parenting, I think I would have been more patient, especially with my daughter when she was a toddler, I feel like I treated her as an annoyance and didn’t listen to her enough which has resulted in her being needy and insecure.

      • Functional Randi

        It’s very easy to become annoyed by our toddlers incessant questioning and neediness. I feel like patience is something that a lot of parents struggle with, but there could be many reasons for her neediness and insecurities that do not relate to her childhood.

        • Tyler

          There’s so many things that I wanted to do over so 16.5 years later I did. I didn’t grow up in a very affectionate and loving home and my mom certainly didn’t play with me. We weren’t allowed to make messes or have many toys. As my 2 oldest children became teenagers I realized that I had taken this same approach to parenting with them & I regretted it. They are great adults now but there’s no memories of playtime or bedtime stories. I pretty much forced them to take care of themselves & be grown at a very early age. So when I was given the chance with my youngest son to change that I was determined to make a difference. I now take the time to play, my house is very much lived in instead of perfectly clean & it’s filled with toys that we play with together but the most important part is we kiss and hug and spend quality time together on a daily basis. I also make a point to tell all of my children how much I love them every day. It may seem like that’s normal little things but it’s something I had to work at since I wasn’t use to that type of bonding. I can honestly say now that I enjoy being a parent more than I ever have & I’ve tried my best to make up for time lost. I may never be able to get some of the things back with my oldest children but with this new outlook I can certainly make the future better.

  • Anna Steiger

    I wish I had been more consistent with everything. From making dinner and making them eat it; to making them follow through with punishments. I wish I had scream at them less. Playing single parent because of my spouse’s job, really isn’t a great excuse.

  • Arthur

    I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, however I honestly don’t have any regrets regarding my children, or how have they been raised. I consider myself very fortunate

  • Catey

    If I could go back and do it again, I would have moved and settled where my heart wanted to be before my kids were born. I hate where we live, I always have, and my dream is to move away. But I feel like having kids has made it so hard to follow that yearning to be “anywhere but here.”

    • Parent Bear

      This is a great topic. There are a bunch of things that I would have liked to do differently. However, I think that no matter what I said or did, I would still doubt myself. Like you say, our kids are resilient (thank God!). I would like to somehow teach myself to overcome my self doubt. I’d like to be more relaxed about how my kids are doing, so that I can sit back and enjoy the whole process more!

      On the plus side, I might still manage to do this. On the down side though… What are the chances?

      I think we should all try to relax a little more, as much as that is possible, so we don’t regret it later!

      Thanks for writing this great post. It’s an important subject. Best to think about it sooner rather than later!

  • Rod Mckenzie

    I have never been one to look back and have a regret or wish to have a do over. I look at it and believe that I am here in this spot of my life because this is exactly where I am supposed to be.

    I have 3 awesome kids with big hearts and full of hopes and dreams for their futures. They may not have the best grades and may not be the most eloquent at times, but they are being themselves and for that I cannot fault them or myself.

  • MommedRealHard

    I’d had a miscarriage as my first pregnancy. I have struggled with anxiety and depression, for various reasons, most of my life. Those two things combined into a very anxious pregnancy with my son. I thought once he was born I would feel less fear about his little life but I didn’t. Instead it amplified! The mommy-awareness kicked in and there were just so ways he could die or be hurt or maimed or diseased. You get the idea. I was an internal wreck. I didn’t get any help until he was about 2yo. I didn’t have a support group helping me know what was normal, for all I knew this was just my life now. My son is probably a bit naturally anxious, he gets overwhelmed with sensory things… but a big part of me wishes I had been less anxious and afraid those first two years of his life. Maybe he would be less anxious, maybe he’d have better coping skills, maybe he’d believe in himself more because I would have allowed him to try more, etc. I have no way of knowing if this would have helped him, really, but I think in general we would have both had a more positive two years if I had known how much I needed help with the anxiety and gotten it.

    • Functional Randi

      It takes great courage to seek help and share your story- thank you. I am so sorry that you had to go through that but it’s totally understandable. I too tried to protect my kids from everything and because of that they didn’t develop the coping skills when I couldn’t protect them anymore. Your son is young and you were strong enough to seek help. That sets a wonderful example for him and shows what a great mother you are. Thank you so much for sharing that story, maybe it will empower others who are also struggling to seek help.

  • Natasha

    I wish I had wondered out loud more about my daughters health. It took years before I stumbled across having her tested for allergies. And that’s because I was bemoaning, out loud, how sick she easily got and someone suggested allergy testing. She is chock full of allergies! Pediatrician never brought it up. The allergy treatments were a BIG help.

    And then when she started showing mood difficulties, it took me too long to look for intervention. I was afraid of her being labelled, over medicated and blah blah. When I finally took action, it worked out just fine.

    • Functional Randi

      Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma when it comes to dealing with our children’s mood difficulties and the use of medication. Mood disorders can be genetic and sometimes the only way to treat it is with the help of medicine. When one of my teenagers with struggling with depression, everyone kept telling me it was just teenage hormones and all teens act that way. But I took him to a wonderful adolescent psychiatrist who put him on an anti depressant and it changed everything! Thank you for sharing about that!

  • Jessica

    How you said you wish you were less of a friend to your teens, I wish I was more of one. I had to always be the enforcer because my ex never has rules with them. I felt I had to be strict to make up for what he didn’t give them. Turns out it only made them resentful, and they felt I wasn’t there for them. So I changed my parenting to be structured, but more loving and to stop and listen to them. I realized I don’t have to be “mom” every single second. Sometimes I can be human with them too. But they are young teens still, so it’s a work in progress. And I’ve learned what NOT to do with my toddlers growing up.

    • Functional Randi

      I think that this is something that a lot of parents can relate to. I know, as a single parent, I had no one to play “good cop vs. bad cop” with, so I chose good cop. But just like you pointed out in your comment there needs to be a balance of both and it sounds like you have a great plan in place!

  • The Dad Briefs

    We had our kids at a later stage in life than most, with me being 39 and 44 when our two sons were born. I never wish that I had kids earlier, but I do wish I had been more playful with them, followed their imaginations further and was less inclined to hurry up their maturity. I’m definitely making up for lost time now, resetting my expectations for their ability to listen and stay focused.

    I think being older gave their mother and me less overall patience with them. At the same time, I’m glad that we are wiser and have more resources to handle the ups and downs of parenting.

    Ultimately, I’m happy to report that I can still get my silly on with the best of them.

    • Functional Randi

      I love your response, because being able to “get your silly on” is so important with young children. It sounds like you are doing a great job at finding that balance between following rules and having fun. Thank you so much for your comment.

  • Wendy Darling

    I wish I had stood up to my daughter’s pediatrician that her colic wasn’t just “part of having a newborn” but had all the hallmarks of reflux. She and I had an absolutely miserable maternity leave during which she could quite honestly scream for hours on end and never napped. When my son was born the (new) pediatrician diagnosed him very quickly, using the exact same symptoms, and his first 12 weeks were much more pleasant.

    I also wish I’d recognized and admitted my postpartum depression earlier. It took a year after my daughter’s birth to come to terms with it, even though I’d been previously diagnosed with clinical depression and work in the mental health field,

    • Functional Randi

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I think as new mothers, we feel that the pediatrician is the expert and don’t always feel confident going with what our gut tells us. I am glad that you brought up the issue of postpartum depression. My doctor never spoke with me about it. If there was more information provided to new mothers and some sort of screening for postpartum depression, a lot of people would not suffer in silence.

  • Nicole B.

    I’m not even sure what I would do differently for my 18 year old. There must be something, though, since he now struggles with anxiety and depression. Maybe I should have noticed it in his childhood so that his teen years would have been better? I don’t know. I do feel like I failed him. I think I allowed his stepdad to be too controlling and this doesn’t work well with my son’s personality. Sometimes I think maybe I should not have remarried and just focused on my son instead. It’s hard to say…

    Great post! Really got me thinking!

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