I feel like I'm failing motherhood. What's my report card?


There are so many reasons to feel insecure, guilt, shame or fear as a parent. How do you know if you're doing okay or if you need to make a change?

If your child’s behavior is not your report card, what is?

In today's episode I share 3 questions to navigate that help you decide for yourself and your family what the right next step is for you. Many times it's simply letting an expectation go, forgetting about that unsolicited advice, and allowing other families to parent differently than you.

Use these questions alongside the day-to-day feedback to stay grounded in the decisions that are best for your kids, and help you truly hear and listen to your gut instinct as their parent.


  • 3 Questions to ask yourself when doubting, questioning or worried about your parenting
  • A strategic way to address all the "shoulds" in your head
  • A way to re frame the adversity you face day-to-day


  • How I use my family's values to know when something needs to change

Family Culture + Values from Mighty + Bright

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Danielle Bettmann  0:04  
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean, have too much anxiety. And not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you.

This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches.  You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here.

Hey, it's Danielle. I hope you're having an amazing, relaxing, super fun summer. And I'm glad that you are still tuning in to failing motherhood, I was just talking to a colleague about kind of the summer slump in particular industries and even therapists see a big downturn in the summer because we don't have the time or the structure or the energy to work on ourselves. So the fact that you are showing up here still having some sort of capacity and intention to work on yourself and your parenting this summer, your family is so lucky to have you can we just agree. And I'm so proud of you, you should be so proud of yourself. I hope that you are getting a lot out of some of our summer series. I really thought about taking a break honestly for the podcast for the summer. And I'm kind of glad I didn't because not only does it keep me honest, and and accounted for every week, but I'm able to share some of the inspiration in real time. And I just like to keep things kind of kind of impulsive. So I have some really great interviews planned for you for the upcoming mom, parent New Year that is starting the next school year. But today, I had a totally different podcast episode planned. And I had a couple client calls earlier today and one of them just inspired the heck out of me. So I ended up taking some of what we talked about on that call. And turning that into today's episode, which I'm really excited to share with you because I know it will resonate if you are listening to this podcast. And I know that it will be valuable not only for anyone new to me, but even the clients that have worked with me forever because this was a family. This is a family that we've worked together for over a year now. They were some of my one on one clients that I used to have a package where we work together for about four months. And they continued with monthly sessions on the back end and we have continued to meet. And they are dealing with typical toddler behavior and unsolicited advice from family a adjusting to a preschool that is pretty strict. If they're being honest, the dynamic is a little bit high pressure. And they recently had kind of their one of their first playdates with friends. And they parent differently than them. Right. Which can make you question what either what you're doing or just bring up questions you didn't have before in your parenting. They these parents that I'm thinking of are also both oldest born kids, which I am one and I know many of you are were inherently we're a little bit more rule followers. So there's a lot of shoulds in our brain that we feel like we need to listen to. And maybe we're looking for some external validation, right? We like to star charts, we like to know that we're getting good grades. And we like to know that our families and our parents are proud of us, and they have reasons why they may not be getting that feedback. And there's other extenuating circumstances especially family in particular is navigating, which makes them maybe feel more like they have to prove themselves as parents, they are so desperate to do it right. And they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves to perform at a high level as parents. 

So we were talking their particular example where they had a great Sunday they went out, they made decisions where they were able to go for a walk and enjoy some time with us as a family that they didn't get to have as much of lately, and it felt like really good quality time, it benefited everyone's mental health. And then because of those, those decisions, they ended up having their kids start bedtime past that point of when they usually do, and inevitably, they had the feelings arise of man, I'm still failing. I'm a terrible parent. I can't ever get it, right, because now I'm paying for it. Right? I because of those decisions, it feels like I'm being punished now. Because now but times me late, it's not gonna go, well, we're not gonna have you know, the time we need to clean up and it just feels like, man, like, you know, we can never, we can't ever do it right?

Unknown Speaker  5:59  
There are so many reasons to feel insecure, or to question yourself or to doubt yourself as a parent, we could name them off for days, right? All the things that I shared in that intro, are just scratching the surface for this particular family and all of the dynamics that are at play, that inevitably lead them to be feeling like they have reasons to believe they are not doing their best, there's better things that could be doing. And what do you do? Right? What do you do? When you at every single age, every single stage of your parenting journey in your kid's life, there is inevitably going to be another reason around the corner that makes you doubt yourself that makes you question your own parenting that makes you feel like you are missing out or not giving your kids something. It's either the the presence of a negative dynamic, or it's the absence of more positives that other families are choosing, and you're not. There's 1000 reasons to feel like you're not getting it right. Hence the entire premise of this podcast, right? Feeling like you're failing parenting. We talked about this on every single episode.

Danielle Bettmann  7:18  
So while your child's behavior is not your report card, certain behaviors can also send you spiraling, which was also the case with this family and met with today. And when they're presented with these new behaviors, new mean things they've never said before, situations that just felt like, where is this coming from?

How they are treating people is concerning. Right? I had an Instagram poll the other day. And no, it was the free masterclass. And one of the things shared was when I see these moments of not kindness or my kids it is it terrifies me because how they treat others is so important. So when you see mean behavior or irrational behavior, especially things you are not actively exposing them to or modeling yourself, it sends you spiraling, it makes you question what are we missing? What are we doing wrong?

So how can you be okay? When your kids and their behavior and all this external feedback you're getting is telling you? You're not okay. Right? What is your report card? If it's not your kids behavior?

Or if you're not getting accolades, and star charts and trophies, for being the world's best parent?

What is your report card? That's what we ended up talking about on this one on one call that we had earlier today. And some of the conclusions that they came to as they really talked this out together with me.

There came some overarching threads of some bigger questions, to ask yourself some grounding perspective, and some insight that I think is truly pretty universal, that you can use in a lot of different ways. And that's what I wanted to be able to share with you. Today. I thought about making this a training for some of my graduates of my group program, because I know if this is something that my clients have, like a year out, are dealing with, it's something that you're going to deal with, especially if you have worked on your parenting and dug into 1000 resources, and really are trying to listen to a lot of voices. And inevitably a lot of noise that is conflicting and making you feel like you're failing at all angles, even when you're trying your darndest. So, I'm going to share today three questions to ask yourself that are going to be your report card. And whatever that feedback gives you. 

You decide what to do with that information. Okay? It could be that this information informs you to a place where you can truly let your hair down and let it go and be carefree as a result. Or it gives you the feedback where you're like, oh, no, really, we need to take action here, this is unsustainable, not okay. Or you decide if it's a problem or not a problem. Okay, this is just insight into your own family situation, and the way that things feel, so that you can make the most informed educated decision of what's right and best for your family. That's very hard to do in this day and age. So I'm going to share with you these three questions, and then what to do day to day to combat this feeling of feeling. Okay. And we'll recap it then. So what is the first question to ask yourself? Number one?

Are we out of integrity with our family's values?

Now you can ask yourself this question and get an answer. If you haven't identified your family's values at all.

Sara Olsher, and I, Sarah from Mighty and Bright, who have probably mentioned before, she and I created a values, activity through our line of products for kids mental health. And I will just read you some of our family's values so that you can kind of get an idea of what that's supposed to look like. We actually have little posters on our wall that I've been there for years and years now, that say, be brave, be kind, be you, be wise, be happy, be true. I'm gonna kids have repeated that over and over and over. And they we see it all the time, we go back to it all the time. In our conversations, we have kind of a family agreement, and we've written and we identified from this list what some of our family values are, we have a strong sense of humor, we value quality time, we value whitespace, and good sleep. We value creativity, and authenticity, we value, teamwork, and mindfulness, we value gratitude and growth mindset. 

So you could see where if I'm asking, if my husband and I are talking, are we out of integrity with our family values when we're feeling a ton of guilt, or we're worrying about something where we got this feedback from someone or we're questioning our own parenting based on, you know, an exposure to someone else's parenting, we could maybe say, hey, you know what, this is the best decision for our family, because we do really value white space and good sleep. So it's best for us to say no, to this really well intentioned fun activity, because we need to slow down and have more time at home. Or vice versa, we could be really feeling like we need to make a change with screentime in our house, because we are out of integrity with our value of creativity and curiosity. And we haven't been getting out and using our brains or being able to do any creative projects. And that we all want to do and we're sitting around surrounded by but are not doing because we're distracted and entertained. So that's how we're using our family values to kind of inform our approaches about whether or not we are in integrity, and whether or not it's right for us to make a change based on what we're doing. Not because of what someone else is doing. But because it's the right thing for us and our family.

As you work on your parenting, as you reason things out with other people, and you become really, really grounded in the why of your parenting approaches, and know that it's the right thing deep down in your gut. You have a much stronger sense of your instinct, and know when you can be confident about a decision and when you can let something roll off your back and not worry about it versus when you worry about it. So over time, this gut instinct becomes louder and louder. But sometimes it still can be so hard to listen to it and honor it even if you have been building up this strength for years. And that's what was happening with my clients and I really just encourage them that you know you know what to expect and what's within the normal realm. And you know, when the alarm bells go off. And when the alarm bells go off, you know how to ask for help and where to go with that. So trust yourself, right? Use this first indicator, are we out of integrity with our family's values to help inform whether or not there is anything to worry about. So that's number one.

Number two, have I given my best today?

Now, I just watched something from Brene Brown, where she was defining perfectionism, and make the difference between perfectionism and just striving for best. And when you're striving for best you are in it, to give 100% of what you have to give. And some days, you only have 50% to give. But if you give all 100% of that 50%, you gave your best, right. And that is out of a true passion and desire to continue to grow, for your own growth and your own interest and benefiting others.

Now, perfection is perfectionism is much more of a striving, based on trying to prevent the pain and discomfort and embarrassment and shame that comes with disappointing others or letting others down. And it is really rooted in worrying about what other people are thinking.

So you have to be able to decide for yourself, what is my definition of a good parent? To my kids at this stage?

How do I define, quote unquote, good? What do my kids really need most right now in this season? And what would it look like to truly support them? Well, knowing what we know about them. 

Now, with the information we have today, what does it look like? To give my best right now? With the capacity I have today? What's the capacity I have tomorrow? It's going to look different? It's not going to look the same every single day, day in and day out?

So is it driven by a strive to give my kids the best of me? Or is it driven by striving to impress others, prove myself get external validation from others or avoid the crippling shame that comes with letting others down or really feeling not enough? You define what enough is in the season? And then you use that to judge your own behavior?

So that's number two, have I given my best today?

And number three, have I made the best decisions I can with the information I have today?

Because tomorrow, I might have new information. And as a result, I'll make a different decision. Or I'll change my mind. And that's okay. But am I using my tools, my resources, my insight, the information I have available to me today? And am I taking action on it? Am I making the best decision with all of that perspective in mind?

Or am I actively living in a state of chronic regret? Where I'm digging my head in the sand or ignoring some insider information, procrastinating on taking action on something I need to take action on? Or just lacking action? Where I know I need to take action in order to be in integrity with my values? That first question right?

Am I making the best decision I can with the information I have today? And if the answer is yes, great. You can let those worries go? The answer is no. Then you can keep digging. And really confront why? And decide to do something about it if you have the capacity and if you're ready to.

So those three questions. Are we out of integrity with our family values? Have we given our best today? And have we made the best decisions we can with the information we have?

If you can pass those tests, then you can really sit solid confidently leading your family as the CEOs as the pilots. Right that expected adversity that no

There's gonna be turbulence, inevitably, there's going to be turbulence, right. But how you handle it is everything our kids really need us to be knowing that we can handle their fear of the turbulence, and that work doesn't deter us, and that we will still get to our destination on time. Rather than feeling like we are not only as scared of the turbulence as they are, but we are not crying in the corner of the cockpit, terrified, not knowing if we're going to make it right. They need us to be strong, they need us to be solid. They need us to be undeterred by the adversity that we are all going to face on a daily basis. So, day to day, what can you do about combating this feeling of feeling on a day to day basis, right? I just said number one, expect adversity.

There is going to be moments of struggle in your day, it is not always going to be cupcakes, rainbows, butterflies, complete patience from you complete angelic obedience from your child, where there's just not a rain cloud in the sky, right. And those moments have meltdowns or miscommunication or surprise. That does not mean anything is wrong. You are not a bad parent, they are not a bad kid.

There might be just a bad moment or a bad mood. Or you might just be a casualty from pent up emotions or stress that ends up sideways, both from the parent side or from the kids side. Right? You do not have to jump to 1000 conclusions, especially if you have passed those three question tests. It is not a mark of failing, it is an opportunity to teach how else without these moments of conflict without the situation's of big emotions? How else? Can they learn boundaries? Or have opportunities to co regulate with you and learn how to manage their emotions? Or work through disappointment? Or learn how to fully embody how to repair a relationship? How else can they learn without these opportunities to teach them? That's huge. You they are necessary they are needed. In the same way, how else are you meant to learn how to best parent them without these moments of learning in real time and facing these facts and trying to find ways to get around them? You don't it doesn't come pre installed, we have decided that for sure. Right?

So expect adversity, don't jump to conclusions. embrace these moments as opportunities to teach. Communicate with confidence to your kids.

In this in the way of using this type of a phrase. Different families have different roles in our family we blank. That could be something as simple as when a playdate comes over one parents, one kid's parent is totally fine with them taking their shoes off outside. The other family really wants them to keep their shoes on. Right? Could be some something super simple, like that type of a boundary. And all you have to do is be able to empathize with your child and be able to communicate with confidence. Yep, different families have different roles in our family. We keep our shoes on in the backyard. Right? You can either take your shoes off and go inside or keep your shoes on when you keep playing. Right. Like it just is all in your vibe. How thrown off are you? Or how solid Are you in that moment? That defines a lot of how the next few moments will go. And being able to combat and quiet maybe, or delete from your brain. A lot of the other voices and noise of society and unsolicited advice and input that you're getting from all angles of your news feed or what's on your nightstand or just the people you're exposing yourself to right. It is exhausting to try to navigate all of that conflicting feedback and try to continue to give yourself a pep talk or stay grounded. When you're inundated. inundated with information. It's too much it's not helpful. You really only need one type of mentor that truly knows you that you absolutely trust. That's truly all you need. Too many voices means too much noise and too much confusion. So you need to find

Find a mantra, or a phrase, or some type of quick pep talk that when you hear it, it feels like a weight off your shoulders, it feels grounding. It feels reassuring. It feels calming, you need to write something down, save it to a screenshot on your phone or in your notes app, or put it up on your mirror. And all of my clients end up finding really resonating phrases throughout the program that become their new self talk the way that they're trying to rewire their brain to see things differently, and interpret them differently. And that does not happen without strategic intention. Okay, this is not just like a flip, and I hope it happens, we'll see, I'll cross my fingers and throw it to the wind. No, this is actively installing and strengthening new neural connections in your brain. So that you actually are able to react differently in these moments, right? That you need to have some sort of a grounding mantra that you can go back to daily. And then you also need to kind of be able to check some of these thoughts at the door. So I heard this good reframe the other day to where when you have a thought that comes through your mind that says, oh, I should blank, right? I should be cleaning the kitchen, I shouldn't be playing with my kids, I should put the kids in swim lessons, whatever it is.

That is just a you could statement with shame on top. And we we hate shame here, right? This is shame free zone. Let's get that out of our vocabulary. Instead, replace that thought in two different ways. And see if it's still true.

Turn I should be cleaning the kitchen to either I want to clean the kitchen, or I need to clean the kitchen. Which one of those things is true? And then act upon that. Right. So I may not want to clean the kitchen, but I need to clean the kitchen. Okay. Yeah, that's might be true. So What conclusion can I make from that point? I'll make a plan later tonight to get that done, or something right? And then you're doing it for the right reason not out of shame.

Same same way you could go with the playing with my kids, right? I want to play with my kids. Great. Go do it. I need to play with my kids. I don't know if that's necessarily as true. I could play with my kids. Yeah, I could. Right. But it's not I should, it's really important to just be able to make that distinction enough so that you're making decisions out of the right reasons, and for the right desires.

So to recap, your questions are, am I acting in integrity with my values? Am I giving my kids my best today? Am I making the best decisions with the information I have today?

Day to day, I can expect adversity and not jump to conclusions. I can see conflict and moments as opportunities to teach life skills. I can communicate with confidence my boundaries to my kids. And I can reframe these should thoughts with wants or needs and respond appropriately. Always going back to a grounding mantra day to day.

I hope that helps, I hope you can run with that and feel like parenting is a little bit lighter, and you're a little bit more grounded with some confidence.

But if this is something that you really struggle with, because you just don't know, if what you're doing is right, you don't know what your family's values are. You're constantly feeling unsure and insecure in whether your boundaries are even justified. And ultimately, you just know that you're not in integrity because your relationship with your child is not where you want it to be. And you're tired of feeling like you're not taking action when you know you need to, then Let's chat a little bit more. Okay, because that's exactly where my clients come in and three months later. They are in an entirely different place. Parenting goes from feeling defeated, to feeling proud. They go from feeling hopeless to feeling hopeful. They feel like their relationship with their child has transformed they better understand them, they feel more connected to them. And then they're able to use these tools to continue to stay on an intentional conscious mindful path, knowing that they're on a trajectory to where they want to be when their kids are teens and beyond and

Really, there is nothing more important or more priceless, right? So go check out the show notes, find the link to schedule a consultation. And truly don't delay because you deserve to feel like you are confident in what you're doing and that you truly can let things roll off your back and enjoy the decisions that you're making. And the things that are right for your family and your kid. Without all the noise and the fears and the worries clouding your vision. Okay? You don't need to be held hostage, you can truly break free, and find more and more possibilities that are true for your family, even if they feel unattainable right now. So go schedule your consultation, check out my free training, if you haven't yet. parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic. And I am again commend you so much for continuing to seek out these resources and find ways to level up as a parent and also find the self compassion you need to sleep at night and let go of some of that guilt, knowing that you will inevitably go to therapy for one reason or the other. But you're still going to do your darndest to try to make that a shortlist right.

I'm so glad you're here I am cheering you on.

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me.

If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and invest in the support you need to make it happen.

Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you.

Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.



Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!