Their Mistakes Are Not Yours

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

You will have your “winter” as a parent no matter who you are or where you live. I sent a video of my CBS News NY segment to a friend who practices psychiatry in Germany. He showed my segment to the parents of one of his 20-year-old patients, and they thanked him for showing it to them. They felt guilty about their parenting, and viewing my segment relieved them. It made a huge difference for them to hear that their son’s psychiatric diagnosis didn’t make them bad parents.

Guilt and shame are awful feelings to hold for long periods. These emotions limit our full self-expression. They cause us to withdraw from our true selves, overcompensate for what we think is lacking, and cause us to feel anxious and worried that someone will find out that we aren’t the person they think we are. How does this apply to you as parents?

When your teens make a mistake or get in trouble, you may worry about what other people think and how that makes you look as a parent, but their mistakes are not yours. Their mishaps don’t automatically make you a bad parent. Teenagers will test boundaries, break rules, and act out. That’s the nature of the adolescent years. Your job as a parent is to provide them with a foundation and a roadmap for life. They may veer off the road and take a path less traveled. They may take several wrong turns, go around in circles, or even in reverse. But if you give them that map, they will always be able to find their way back if they choose. The choice is ultimately theirs.

All the best,
Dr. Liz