Among every good parent’s worst fears is making that one bad decision, missing a giant blind spot, and getting it all wrong—making the kind of big mistake that just can’t be undone, that your child will be talking about in therapy for years. The mistake that will prevent them from living a full, happy life, and ruin their entire future.
If you’re at all self-aware and attempting to be a good parent, such a mistake probably doesn’t even exist. But the fear of parenting failure can be paralyzing and isolating, because it’s hard to know what kind of mistakes other parents are making! Evidence of mistakes is not the sort of thing one posts to Instagram. And in the absence of that knowledge, it’s harder to trust in the resilience of your children and your relationship.
One solution: create a confessional circle. When we parents confess our mistakes to each other, we can better access that place of trusting in resilience. This happens spontaneously sometimes when good friends get together in the right setting, but why not give it a little nudge? Here are some ideas to help you create the conditions for some extra good confessing.
Find your mix of moms
To get the best stories, each parent you invite should already know at least one or two other people in the circle. And it’s essential to grab some moms who have kids who are a bit older. They’ve had time to make way more mistakes, and the distance of years makes it easier both to share them and to laugh at them. Plus you can look to their children as living examples of resilience in action.
Occupy the kids
Maybe this goes without saying, but it’s usually easier to share sensitive stuff if the children in question aren’t eavesdropping. And it’s definitely easier, in general, to have a conversation without constant interruption. Pool childcare resources and/or engaging activities so little ones aren’t listening in.
Set the scene and break the ice
Don’t scare everybody off by flat-out announcing a game of Parenting Truth or Dare! Invitations to a confessional circle should be focused on the idea of boosting new moms’ confidence, rather than on revealing embarrassing stories. This can also work well if organized by someone else for you—like a baby shower, but the gifts are stories of past parenting failures.
Alternatively, you could go stealth and call it a Bunco night or book club, and then just pop the question “What was one of your worst parenting moments?” when everyone’s warmed up and ready for conversation. Wine is good for this, or comfort food, or both. Warm lighting, background music, and cozy seating help, too. If it’s a hit, then you can schedule an intentional repeat!
However, you make it happen, hearing stories of others’ trial-and-error parenting will give you some valuable perspective, expand your self-compassion, and likely create or deepen friendships with some other parents in the process. Happy confessing!