Insanity of Motherhood

Motherhood, marriage, and midlife.

Regretful Parenting


Being a parent isn’t easy.  At least not for me.  I’ve wanted to become a mom since I was very young, but am still surprised how challenging it can be.  The daily demands of caring for others is something I wasn’t prepared for.

Over the years I’ve tried to educate myself on ways to make my parenting more effective.  Most of the time things go well, but sometimes not.  I have made mistakes and errors.  There are times I have regretted the way I have handled a situation with my boys.

In a recent conversation with Tall Boy he reminded me of something I did as a parent which I now regret.  I don’t know how the conversation started, but he recalled an incident in which I spanked him.

I was surprised Tall Boy even remembered the incident because he was four years old when it happened.  At the that time he was a very difficult child to handle.  Each day was filled with struggles.  He was (and still is) very strong-willed and I had to use all of my parenting and teaching skills constantly to deal with him.

The day of the incident we were getting ready to leave for an appointment.  He was resistant toward putting on his shoes.  It was raining outside.  I wanted his shoes on before we left the house.  He refused and ran away.  The more I pushed the issue the more he pushed back.  It became a battle of wills.

We needed to be at an appointment and we were are the verge of being late.  I told him either he put his shoes on or I was going to spank him.  He refused and I swat him on the butt.

I don’t like spanking or hitting for that matter.  Some folks reading may be thinking, “A spank on the butt is not the end of the world.  My parents spanked me and look at me.  I came out just fine.”  I have heard the spanking argument for years.  I was raised by parents who spanked.  My reason for bringing this incident up is not to debate the spanking issue.  Everyone has a different opinion of how they want to raise their kids.  Mine is to do so without hitting.

Because I don’t often lose it often or spank Tall Boy was shocked.  So much so he still remembers the incident.   What bothers me most about that day was how out of control I felt.  The intense anger felt foreign to me.  I knew better ways to handle the situation and I chose not to use any of them.  I lost it.

The spanking was not done to teach my son a lesson, but to express how angry I was.  It was a release of frustration.  Spanking never seems justified to me.  I certainly wouldn’t want someone hitting me if I had made them angry.

Every parent has done things they are not proud of.  Things they never thought would do.  The guilt I felt after spanking consumed me.  I didn’t like the person who was so out of control they did something they didn’t believe in.

The hardest part of doing something you regret is to forgive yourself.   Parents often hold unrealistic expectations for themselves to handle every situation perfectly.  It can’t be done.  I have yet to meet a parent who has handled every situation with their children flawlessly.

My Tall Boy and I spoke about the incident.  I asked for him to forgive me.  I told him I was sorry how I handled the situation years ago.  We talked about what I could have done differently.  After we were done he hugged me and told me he understood.

I learned a lot about myself from that incident.  Things I needed to learn in order for it not to happen again.  I get it now.

I still think about what happened sometimes, but not too often.  Today needs my attention more than my past does.  That’s where my energy needs to stay.

Author: insanityofmotherhood

Mom of three boys, wife, educator, and all around nice gal in the middle of a midlife something. It's not a crisis, but it's something…

11 thoughts on “Regretful Parenting

  1. This one really touched me. My mom was a spanker and I promised myself I would never hit my son. He’s 9 now and I haven’t spanked him but MAN, I can’t lie, I know the anger/frustration you’re talking about. I could have smacked him but I left the room. Now when I leave the room (I usually sit in the bathroom to calm down), my son knows he’s in trouble and I’m really mad.

    thanks for sharing this one – I truly understand what you’re feeling. So glad to hear that your son understood and you two got a chance to clear the air.

    • Thank you, Penney. This was a hard blog to write. I wondered his many people would judge me since I always advocate not spanking. I am sure many parents have felt the intense anger that only a child can bring.

      • It seems like there’s two sides of the debate – those who think its ok to spank and the rest of us. It’s a tough conversation to have but I’m glad you wrote this. I don’t think people can judge you until they’ve been in your place and felt those emotions.

        But I do get your hesitation – I’m always worried people will judge me too so I find myself holding back on what I really want to say. Thanks for being brave 🙂

      • Thank you for your support. 🙂

  2. I’m curious what made him bring it up. It’s interesting that he stills remembers it. Your guilty feelings are clear.
    However, I have read enough of your blogs to get a picture of you as a parent. It’s clear that you are a caring, supportive, and communicative, etc. Therefore, I’m sure that your kids have many great recollections of your parenting.

  3. Thanks, Audra. It was a humbling conversation. I think I hoped he would have no memory of it. But he remembers everything. We both are good now.

  4. I was never a spanker but one time I cussed at my daughter.. as soon as the words were out of my mouth I immediately regretted it. Yes, like you said I was not really that upset with her it was another situation entirely.. Though I apologized, I still remember the look of hurt on her face.. I have not talked about it since that time, but maybe I will. She may or may not have forgotten but I want to clarify it was never about her..
    We all have regretful moments my dear, we are humans..

  5. Thanks, lynne. Being human does mean we have regrets. Swearing doesn’t seem quite as bad as hitting though. Being spanked as a child made me somehow think it was what he needed to ‘shape up’. I was wrong. It only made us both feel bad.

  6. I have spanked my son a couple of times, and it always leaves me with regret and anger, but anger with myself in place of the original anger with my son. I try hard to follow the Love and Logic style of parenting (which would say in your situation that you could give him the option of going to the apt with his shoes on or with his shoes off, for example). It’s hard. Just like all the demands of a child are hard. They aren’t perfect, and neither are we, and it’s great to discuss that like you have with your son. I’m sure he learned a good value in that heart to heart talk.

  7. I googled this topic this morning bc I did the exact same thing this morning. I spanked my 4 year old son’s clothed bum 3 times!! I yelled at him too. This is what happened…I put a pair of shoes on him and he kicked them off…that just set me off. I was so frustrated and angry. I spanked him and then tried to put a different pair of shoes on him. He refused to wear them, so I dragged him out the house down the driveway in his socks. He finally agreed to put his shoes on in the driveway. He cried all the way to school and I felt like a bully. I hugged him and told him I love him, but he needs to cooperate in the morning. I know that the issue is not his shoes, and it’s that he wanted more time with me…cuddles… and we just didn’t have the time. Tonight, I’m going to hold him and we’ll talk about what happened and I’ll tell him that I’m sorry and we’ll talk about a solution…maybe he can pick out his clothes and shoes the night before and we’ll put them out together in a designated place. I feel like such a terrible mom right now. It is noon and I still can’t eat anything!! My son has a very difficult temperament. He’s a good boy over-all, but he’s so head-strong!!

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