Which of these sound familiar?

  • No matter how much Maria does for her child, she never feels like she does enough, “No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be the parent I want to be.”
  • Bob constantly compares his home and income to his neighbors, “I wish I could give my kids more.”
  • Pat moans, “I wish I had Kelly’s patience when my kids whine.”
  • Ben often complains, “Why don’t my kids achieve as much as Betty’s kids?”
  • Jose is constantly “shoulding” on himself, beating himself up with putdowns like, “I shouldn’t have done that.”

What do all of these parents have in common?

Every one of these well-intentioned parents has a powerful inner critic. They are being attacked by an internal negative voice that fuels self-judgment and self-criticism. All of these parents are struggling because they feel torn apart by internal conflict that creates battles with their children. Their confidence has been zapped by an inner critic that prevents them from discovering the joy in one of the toughest jobs on this planet . . . parenting.

What about you? Do you “should on yourself?” Do you ever fall into the trap of unfavorably comparing yourself with another parent or some unachievable picture of a perfect parent?  Do you ever try to avoid criticism from your child by saying “Yes” when you know it would be in their best interests to say “No” or “Not now?” How often do you put yourself down and long to be who you “should be?”


Our children desperately need for us to be strong, confident role models. When we don’t love ourselves unconditionally, we cannot love them unconditionally.

We radiate confidence that makes our kids trust and respect us when we say what we mean and mean what we say. Below are two great examples:

  • “No, you can’t do what you want to, even if you’re angry about my decision. I care about you too much to place you in a dangerous situation”
  • “Even when you whine, as the adult, I’m strong enough to set boundaries and do what I know is best for you.”

When times are tough, if you struggle to please your kids instead of parent, you’re struggling to forge a fragile “friendship.” Be a wise leader. If you don’t consistently set boundaries and enforce clear family rules, including constructive discipline, your kids won’t feel safe. Why? They won’t be able to trust you because you’ve shown them they cannot depend on you to be consistent.

Believe me, you don’t want to set yourself up for comments like these:

  • “I can’t trust you. You say one thing, but then you do something different.”
  • “I never know where you stand. You’re so confusing.”
  • “You’re a big disappointment. You’re embarrassing.”

When we hear comments like these, we hurt, our self-esteem plummets and conflicts with our kids escalate. Ouch!


Are you ready to stop “shoulding” on yourself? Begin by noticing your parenting patterns. Congratulate yourself on the areas in which you feel strong and capable. This will help you discover how to remedy weaknesses like comparing yourself or your kids to others. Identify when and how your inner critic is highjacking your parenting skills. Notice when you feel insecure and when you fail to respect yourself so you lose your kids’ respect. Observe when you fall into the trap of comparing yourself and your kids to other people.

Your inner critic will be tricky to manage at first. Because what we resist persists, trying to banish your inner critic will make its cruel voice stronger and louder. Discover how to use your inner critic in productive ways that will boost your parenting confidence and effectiveness. Explore videos and articles in the Inner Critic Solutions Gateway,  so you can rediscover the joys of parenting.

Transforming Pain Into Power, Joy on the Job, Conquer Your Inner Critic books by Doris Helge, Ph.D.

Author's Bio: 

© 2013. Excerpted with permission from the Bestselling Book, “Conquer Your Inner Critic” by Doris Helge, Ph.D., named “One of the Top Ten Coaches in America.” With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Doris has a proven track record of helping you Create Your New Life Story. Download your free ebooks and see helpful videos at