Worry less, parent more
One of the concerns I often hear from parents, whether I'm teaching the adoption course or just chatting in the park, is that they'll do something to mess their children up. They worry that they won't use the right parenting techniques or choose the right educational options or buy the right diapers. They fear that their choices now will negatively affect their children in the future.
And they're right.
To a certain extent.
It's true that parental choices influence a child's future, and sometimes those choices – abuse, neglect, rejection – can cause irreparable damage and trauma. It's also true, however, that most of the choices we make as parents aren't nearly so serious.
Our children will grow up fine whether they wear cloth diapers or disposables, even if our environmental footprint might be different. They'll get an education whether they home school, attend private school, public school, or some combination of the three, even if the things they learn and the ways they learn them might be a bit different. They'll learn what's right or wrong whether we do time outs, time ins, losses of privileges, or whatever else to provide consequences when they make bad choices. Of course they need to potty train, learn about the world, and have curbs on their behaviour, but how they get there is often far less important than we think.
I recognized this first when my mother once apologized for spanking me as a child. While I am by no means an advocate for spanking, and while I would never use corporal punishment of any kind with my own children, my relationship with my mother wasn't seriously harmed by her choice of disciplinary technique. She did the best she knew how, and she did it in love, and I came through it not much worse for wear.
Would it have been better had she used an alternative? Probably. But there are also probably better alternatives to the disciplinary techniques I use as a parent now. The point isn't to get it perfect. Parenting isn't something that anyone gets perfect. The point is to make the best choices we can, to make them in the best interests of our children, and to make them in love. Then we just need to get on with them, because worrying endlessly over our choice of diapers isn't going to help us to be any better as parents.