Worst Parent Ever? 8 Sticky Situations and How to Deal


As much as you'd love your parenting style to be more Mary Poppins than Betty Draper, there are definitely days when your best intentions go out the window. Cranky kids, a lack of patience and your own habits and needs can all get in the way of that perfect parenting moment. Never fear, though; feeling like the worst parent ever happens to everyone. The trick is to take a deep breath, realign your philosophy and try to do better tomorrow.

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The Public Meltdown

No mom has ever escaped the threat of the stage-five meltdown in front of others. Whether it's the store, the park, the library or anywhere else your kid's expected to behave, going public with a small child is a lot like walking through a minefield. As your child wails and carries on, you probably start feeling like you should never leave the house again. How to deal: Yup, we'll admit that the public tantrum sucks. But the best way to deal is to refuse to deal at all. Leave ASAP; there's probably some specific reason that your little one is acting up, like hunger or fatigue. Both of you should take a time-out before braving the store again.

The Facebook Call-Out

We've all seen it: Post an adorable picture of your child snoozing in her car seat, only to have some well-meaning (but kind of know-it-all) mama call you out on the tightness of the straps. The Facebook call-out can happen for just about any reason: loose straps, feeding your little one before the AAP-recommended six months, graduating to a different stroller; you name it. Call-out moms make you feel like the worst parent ever! How to deal: Does the finger-wagging have any merit? Hey, maybe you do need to tighten your child's car seat straps. If not, ignore it completely. You know that your little one's safe, happy and healthy, regardless of what a Facebook friend thinks.

The Routine Stickler

Schedules for a small child mean predictable behavior, order and even a few quiet minutes to yourself each day. But when your routine rules all, you could end up with an even crankier kid or worse, ignore your child's individual needs. How to deal: Definitely keep a schedule—it's one of the easiest ways to keep your kiddo happy and well-rested—but be flexible. If your child starts shortening her afternoon nap and you're still pushing for it, you both could end up frustrated. Adjust your daily plans based on your child's age, needs and preferences to ensure a smooth transition to big kid.

The Safety Slip-Up

Whether you were in a hurry, your mind was elsewhere or you simply forgot, a safety slip-up like not watching your little one, forgetting safety gear or allowing her to take a tumble can make you feel terrible about your parenting skills. Even worse? When it happens with an audience. How to deal: While some of these slip-ups can be dangerous, most can be solved with a quick kiss and a resolve to be better next time. Check your little one over to make sure there's no harm done. If you had friends or family witness the slip-up, smile and change the subject; no need to dwell on your minor mishap.

The Sick-Kid-to-Daycare Move

When your little one comes down with the sniffles and you have a huge project at work or need a few hours at home, taking your child out of daycare seems like a disaster. So, you give your child some Motrin, cross your fingers and send her off, hoping for the best. Of course, that's when the daycare might call you to come pick up your little sneezer, which is just embarrassing. How to deal: Despite throwing a wrench in your plans, it's important to keep your sick babe home and make it work. Not only does sending a sniffly child to daycare put everyone else's kids at risk, it's probably what put your little one out in the first place. Don't do it, and if you do, come clean with your daycare provider and apologize.

The Mommy Meltdown

Your little one has her share of tantrums, but you're probably guilty of that too. Totally losing your temper after playing another round of "Why is the sky blue?" or trying to talk on the phone is pretty much par for the course when it comes to parenting. Kids know how to push you to the brink, leaving you a guilty mess afterward. How to deal: Everyone loses their temper, especially with curious, hyper and obnoxious kids on board. Excuse yourself for a breather when your temper flares. If you do end up yelling at your little one, quickly apologize and give her a moment or two of one-on-one attention. This shows her that while it's okay to get mad, it's important to make it right again. Chances are, all she wanted was a few minutes of face-time anyway.

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The Bad Example

Find yourself telling your child to eat healthy foods while you slurp down a Coke? Or, preach the importance of being kind, but lose your cool at a slow-moving waitress? Of course, you never realize that you're not practicing what you preach until after the altercation. How to deal: It might be a good time to talk about choices with your little one. Explain why you're making the choices you are and if necessary, allow your child to see you apologize to someone you've offended or vow to make a better choice in the future to avoid a "do as I say and not as I do" scenario.

The Not-so-Secret Secret

Young kids don't always know what is private information and what is open to the public. If your child spills a family secret (say, that the household's breadwinner was fired from work), make sure to address the issue with the adults in the room. Let the present party know that you appreciate their discretion and that you'll respect their privacy should anything arise in the future.