The thing about life – especially when it comes to the big stuff like raising human beings – is that hindsight is always 20/20. Most of us take our role as a parent seriously, we do our best in the moment, but the truth is, we’re all learning on our feet.
After all is said and done, after our kids are raised and standing on their own two feet, there are bound to be things we wish we’d done differently.
If you’ve still got time at home with young ones, these 14 parents are sharing the things they wish they could go back and change.
14. Heart’s in the right place.
Tried to give them everything without realizing it would just make life worse for them.
13. There’s plenty of time to be friends later.
I’m an adult child and have a regret on behalf of both parents.
I regret that my mom treated us more like her friends than her children. She’d always try to be a teenager and party with her kids rather than warn us of dangers involving growing up. The straw that broke the camel’s back was last year, when my sister took some of my mom’s heroin that they shared, and she overdosed and died in the bathroom. My mom just told me that if the door hadn’t been locked then maybe she could have saved her.
For my dad, it’s that he didn’t make any move to try to be a part of our lives. He passed away in June of this year, and near the end he expressed to us that he regretted not trying again with us, because he really didn’t know how to pick up the pieces.
If you ever get mad that your parents are more parents to you than friends, just know that it’s important that they are doing what they’re doing.
12. They just want your time.
Too much work, not enough time home with the kids especially when they were young.
Financially it made sense and my wife was able to be a full-time mom as she preferred. She also insisted I spend time with the kids, when I might have been inclined to spend more time on work; brought the kids to have dinner with me at my employer’s cafeteria; etc.
Now we care for our granddaughter several days a week and I see how much I missed with our kids. Our kids are fine – successful, independent adults so no harm there, just my regrets.
11. A cautionary tale.
Before he passed, my late stepfather confessed to me that he never would have pushed me so hard about my education at a young age. This was back when “Tiger Mom” parenting was all the rage in the early 90’s. There were a lot of days where every waking minute was devoted to math and writing drills, maybe I’d get some time playing Math Blaster or Jumpstart on the PC if I was lucky. Going to the doctor? Leave the game boy at home, you’re taking a book to the waiting room.
I was the start student as school, even got into advanced classes, up until halfway through 4th grade when my mental state began to deteriorate and my lack of social development became apparent. My teenage years were spent going through a massive downward spiral, became violent with both other students and my parents, dropped out in 9th grade. Tried several times to get my GED but when I try to study for it I just… can’t handle it. I’ve spent my entire adult life being a shut-in.
My stepfather was always a very stubborn, arrogant man, especially in those last few years, so to hear him talk about how he raised me with genuine regret in his voice… I’ll never forget that moment.
10. This is a sad one.
I was a teenage mom and I tried really hard to be a better mom than my mom. She was very abusive, controlling, and a narcissist. I have a few regrets. Even though I broke the cycle of being like my crazy mother. I regret not standing up for my self the first years of my son’s life.
When I finally moved out I was 24 single mom with a 7yo. I met my my partner when he was 6 and he moved in with us shortly after. There were times when I would get my neighbor to watch my kid on our day off and we would go out and get super wasted. Our days of was usually a weekday. Even though my son would walk to school cause it was literally like a 10 min walk. I would always wake up to see him off. But not those says when I had off cause I was super wasted.
One morning it was raining and my son said he tried to wake me up to take him to school. I always drove him on rainy days. He said he knocked on my door twice but I didn’t wake up. He walked to school in the rain. It still breaks my heart when I think about that to this day.
I am not a perfect mom but I love my crazy boy. He is 20 now. He still loves me but he is at that age where he thinks I’m old and stupid.
9. I feel this one.
All the time I was tired.
When they just wanted to be with me.
8. We’re all doing our best.
My now 22 daughter was exposed to 2 men (her father and my STBXH, her step father for many formative years) who were bad examples of how men should treat their wives and children (emotionally abusive). I carry a lot of guilt.
My daughter and I are extremely close and she is amazing. But I know she is scarred from the emotional abuse. She loves how strong I was to leave but the reality is I stayed way too long.
7. That’s a tough call.
My mother says her biggest regret is not homeschooling me.
Given how smart and patient she is, and how patchy and inconsistent my schooling was due to frequently moving, she’s probably right that I’d have been better off.
6. Not sure how to feel about this.
I honestly don’t have any. One thing I am thankful for: I had them later in life. Not by plan, but that’s the way it played out. That by itself I think allowed me to see things a bit more clearly and in a balanced way.
Of course, having a terrific wife who’s sharp as a tack was the best part of it all. Ninety percent of it was thanks to her. I played a bit part.
5. That’s so tough.
I raised my children with religion. We went to church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. My job for a few years was through the church, and most of our friends were through the church, too.
About the time my youngest started college, I became an atheist.
They no longer talk to me, don’t respond to my messages, and have become more and more involved in a very strict church that they found.
I was trying to raise them with love, caring, and empathy, but it turns out I raised them to be overly judgmental.
4. Open up.
Not being emotionally available to them.. I believe I suffer from an attachment disorder from my childhood and I carried it on into my adult life. I was always a snuggly parent when they were babies and toddlers but as they got older it started becoming really awkward for me.
My 19 year old told me not long ago that she didn’t really feel loved growing up with me because other family members were always more physically and emotionally open than I was. Absolutely gut wrenching to know I made my kids feel this way.
3. I actually don’t think that’s a bad thing.
“We taught him to question everything and now he believes in nothing,” said my dad.
2. Some things aren’t for kids.
I was young when I had my kids.
I struggled financially and every other way and I wish I had known to keep scary adult stuff to myself and make them feel safe always.
I regret over-sharing/talking to them about struggles when they were school-aged.
1. Yelling is awful. Stop.
I wish I hadn’t yelled as much as I did. It took way too long to figure out that my anger issues really stemmed from depression. The kids were in their late teens by the time I was able to get treated.
My son grew up with the same issues, and yelling makes my daughter cringe and cover her ears. I have a lot of guilt over that.
The crux of most of these things is just this: enjoy your time as much as you can, because it really will be gone before you know it.
Hard advice to follow some days, but important all the same.