Parenting advice

Sharing the biggest regrets that parents have

This article popped up on my twitter feed earlier this year – Our parenting regrets. I clicked through and let’s just say I may have been a little bit moved by it all. Ordinary parents share stories that are moving, funny, sad, and heartbreaking.

Sharing the love

My four-year-old grandson clutches my knees and hugs me: “I love you, Granny.” I bend down and put my arms around him: “I love you too, Ben.”
I’m filled with a depth of emotion that is impossible to put into words because I never gave my four children what my grandson has just given me.
I never told them how much I loved them. I was a stay-at-home mum and my husband and I tried our best to make their lives full of fun and interest. We loved them and I hope they felt loved but this is my regret: I never put that love into words to my children.
I love them still and I hope they still feel loved. I want to hold each one in turn in my arms and say: “I love you, James; I love you, Jenny; I love you, Naomi; I love you, Tom.” But I think it’s probably too late to do what my grandson has just taught me to do.
Anji Dawkins

From the familiar story of a mother pushed that little bit too far (and I can identify with that one. One night faced with “We’re not eating that” expressions I put the dinner in the bin then went out for a lovely meal. On my own. No regrets)  the article goes through stories of a father wishing he’d read his teenager a bedtime story, a parent struggling with raising a very-much-wanted but challenging child, a mum thinking her son grew up too quickly, to a simple yet thoughtful wish that she’d done less ironing. Each short paragraph challenges us and makes the reader think of all the different facets of parenting. How one simple decision or reaction to an event can leave regrets and scars that stay with parents and carry on when the children are grown up and may even have forgotten the original incident.
These little vignettes, by their very examples, only deal with a short snapshot of family life. The parents don’t feel like this all the time; there are happy memories to be had as well as the regrets. Yet these short excerpts make us think and reflect on any regrets that we as parents might have.   The article has obviously struck a chord with others – it has gone from 4 shares and three comments when I started writing this post to 208 shares and 82 comments by the end of it. A powerful piece of writing that resonates with the reader will always be shared – “I felt like this when I was reading it – how did you feel?” – as we want to discuss it and see what other people think.
Now, go away and think of cuddly kittens and boisterous puppies. Though I think this Guardian article may stay with you a little while longer…