Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Could you handle having 14 kids?

Why guilt is the enemy of the effective parent. And how to deal with the guilt of making mistakes and struggling as a parent.

A while back, I found this article in the Daily Mail with the headline "Octomom's 8 kids turn 14!"

First, I saw the photos of this lady with her 8 kids. What impressed me most was the fact that she was smiling on all the photos, and her kids seemed happy. What an achievement (getting my 2 kids to smile for photo is already difficult).

But then I read more. Apparently this mom, Nadya Suleman, is a single parent who not only has the 8 octuplets, but also 6 more children (so a total of 14 children!). And they live in a 3-bedroom house!

Just reading about her situation helped me put my own life into perspective.

It can often feel overwhelming to be a parent. There are just so many challenges, and it is easy to focus on all the mistakes you have made.

Worse, it often feels like the other parents are perfect, and that you are alone with your mistakes and faults.

I often think about mistakes that I have made with my kids. How I should have stayed calm, or said Yes to my son instead of just reflexively saying No, or how I should have paid more attention to him instead of being tired and telling him to go to sleep.

But here's a realization that has helped me with this feeling: everyone feels that way. Every parent struggles, every parent makes mistakes, and every parent has regrets.

That is something Lisa Smith taught me when I interviewed her.

Lisa Smith is a parenting coach, best-selling author, and podcast host.

When I spoke to her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen, Lisa said something that really resonated with me:

"I know that before I got on my path to peaceful parenting, I felt very alone. I felt like it was the only parent screwing up. I was the only parent yelling at my kid. I felt a lot of shame and guilt and when I went around and tried to ask other people in my circle, no one seemed to be struggling with the things I was struggling with. So that just intensified my shame and my guilt and gave me evidence that I was alone.

I work hard to build communities through my weekly podcast, through my membership, through working with parents, through working with other coaches like yourself. I work hard to get the word out that no matter what you're doing, and no matter where you're at, you are not alone.

And the first step is just to ask for help. Just have hope. Tell yourself "I'm not alone," and go find some resources to prove that, so that you can get away from the guilt and shame. I always say guilt is the enemy of the effective parent. It's hard to transform if you're marinating in guilt."

Lisa Smith

In the interview with Lisa, she also explains the real reason it feels like your child often isn’t listening to you, and how to ensure you have the attention of your child before you ask them to do something.

You can find the full interview with Lisa Smith - The four steps to getting your kids to listen without yelling - in our ebook How To Get Kids To Listen, available for free download here.