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I grew up in a dysfunctional home, and many days, I feel lost in parenting. It’s hard to know how to be a good parent when it wasn’t really modeled for you. In theory, you can do the opposite, but it’s not that simple and extremes tend to backfire.

Despite my upbringing, I was always a natural with kids. I was a baby whisperer of sorts and the go-to sitter in my teen years. It seemed a given that parenting would come easily for me. I became arrogant thinking it would be a breeze, but what I found was the opposite, and it was a humbling experience.

RELATED: Being a Mom is Hard, and That’s OK

Being a mom has been one of the biggest challenges in my life. Confronting my childhood pain came with a lot of baggage and what was left was this intense fear of making the same mistakes. I struggled with this crippling anxiety that I had no idea what I was doing and that I was destined to fail.

Somedays the weight of responsibility is so heavy, it brings me to tears.

All I want is for my kids to feel safe, loved, and seen, but when my own childhood holds so much pain, it seems impossible. I think back to words said to me that still sting as fresh as the day they were spoken and wonder how I can ever be a good mom. How can I provide support and grace when I don’t know what it looks like.

I don’t have the answers, but the one thing I keep coming back to is accountability. It’s what I strive to do. I make mistakes on a regular basis, but I try to live my life in honesty and own up to my failures.

You see, denial is a trap. We think if we don’t see problems, they aren’t there, but our blindness just adds to the pain. We choose denial out of selfishness because ownership hurts us, so it’s easier to ignore the damage we’ve done. People say that ignorance is bliss, but in the case of denial, somebody always suffers.

I can tell you from experience that a lack of accountability hurts just as much as the original wound. It’s gut-wrenching.

When I think about my childhood and the relationships left in ruins, the thing that sticks out the most is the desire for my parents to see the pain they caused and own up to it. A lot of wounds could be healed just with a genuine apology.

Bridges could be repaired if only they admitted there were holes.

Maybe you’re like me and the fear of failing your kids keeps you up at night? But I say that’s a good sign. I say the very fact that we care is a good sign. It means we want change and there is hope to break the cycle of pain. Our fears do not have to become a reality; instead, they can serve as a warning to us of the weight of our actions and words. When we mess up, we can turn that into a moment to humble ourselves and heal wounds.

RELATED: Battling the Sting of Toxic Relatives: Why Our Kids Need Us to Show Them How

So instead of this crippling fear that has us paralyzed as parents, we can choose to live with our eyes wide open and look for the wounds we have caused. We can strive to give our kids a better childhood.

No, we won’t be perfect. We’ll have moments when we speak too quickly, we will definitely still have regrets, but we will be accountable for our actions. Our kids will see us mess up and ask for forgiveness, and they will learn they can do the same.

We will live our lives putting them ahead of our own pride and illusions of perfection, striving to see things through their eyes. Each day we can choose to do better for our kids, and I have a feeling we’ll end up feeling a little less lost along the way.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

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