Dooce asks: Any regrets? We answer: Thankfully, yes

DooceHeather Armstrong of Dooce might snicker to see herself appearing in a parenting advice site, considering the struggles and foibles she’s documented for six years now. But yesterday’s post, which muses on her regrets and asks her readers to do the same, falls squarely into Parent Hacks territory.

As usual, she writes beautifully and with intelligent humor about some of the choices she’s made on her way to becoming who she is now. Her honesty encourages the same candid revelation in the comments. It’s like PostSecret for parents, even though many of her readers’ regrets have nothing to do with parenthood.

I cite Dooce’s post here because I think that stopping every now and then and visiting those regrets opens a new window on one’s ability to raise a little person. While it’s dangerous to push a child “not to make the same mistakes I did” — because sometimes that’s the only way they’ll learn — acknowledging the things you’d have done differently if given the chance at least puts those hot spots on your radar. So you hopefully you’ll see them coming in your kid’s life.

Another takeaway: reading those regrets was not the downer I’d expect it to be…I feel inspired to look at the choices I’m making today with new eyes. Right now I’m doing a little experiment with my dear friend: we’ve each chosen goals we want to achieve in the next month, and we’re checking in daily to report on our progress. I’ll write a detailed post about it later; the point here is that I have a little regret I’m trying to do something about, and my kids are watching me do it. They’re watching me attempt to change an ingrained bad habit. They’re watching me struggle, and try, and fail, and try again, and, hopefully in a month, succeed. You know where I’m going with this…the old “parent by example” and “teach a man to fish and he eats for the rest of his life” saws. But I’m seeing its effect on my kids, and I’m so relieved to discover that even my parenting foibles and failures contain tiny successes, if I take the time to notice them.

How do you share your self-improvement aspirations with your kids?

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  1. says

    Wow, our regrets and failure as a tool to become better parents. I love that! My daughter is only two but I think a lot about how I am going to “save” her from making the same mistakes that I did. I love it when I read something that helps me to see life in a new way.


  2. Michele says

    I really didn’t expect to EVER see dooce and parenting advice linked. This is woman for nearly the first part of her daughter’s life complained about having her, hated being a mother and stayed away as much as possible. Makes me want to belly up to her knee and ask her how she does it all with such grace.

    Was this article for hits?

  3. says

    My son is a little young at 18 months to fully grasp the idea of parental self-reform, but I know he will appreciate the end results regardless.

    Like you, Asha, I’m working one of my worst parenting habits by working with friends.

    It’s funny how what I most disliked about my own parenting habits was also bothering one of my best friends about her own parenting and neither of us wanted to expose our parental insufficiencies. It felt so good to talk about it with her and learn that I wasn’t the only person feeling that way.

    It was also wonderful to get a new perspective on the matter and make my own attitude more proactive than just reactive (guilt).

    I enjoyed the thread at dooce and learned a lot about myself in reading it.

    I made a rather large mistake at a rather young age, and once I recovered from the sheer agony of it, I realized that mistake (and subsequent events) had greatly transformed me into someone more circumspect and more questioning. [Insert crucible reference here.]

    I don’t ever want to be my 18 year old self again (sometimes the mere thought of myself then chafes like new corduroy did in grade school), and I never would be who I am now if she hadn’t been really short-sighted and lonely.

    My life is happily full now, so thank you, sad, silly, young girl.

  4. says


    Thanks for making this post and for leading us over to to read her post too!

    We all need reminders to think about our lives, to think, to reconsider, to analyze.

    One of the reasons I have started my is to do just that, think about life. I find that putting it down on “paper” helps me really think and then I can revisit these thoughts too.

    We all have mistakes that we learn from and it is important to revisit those lessons so that we don’t repeat the same mistake twice.

    Thank you for getting me thinking, it’s healthy for the brain :)

  5. Anonymous says

    In the grand tradition of Post Secret:

    As a parent, I’ve found that I’m (against my will) turning into my parent.

    Makes me quite sick inside.

    Will my son feel about me the way I feel about my father?

    I’ve got less than 16 years before he’ll not talk to me again.

  6. Stacie says

    I’m with Michele. I didn’t expect to see Dooce linked on here either, she does nothing but complain and her post about regrets is parenthack-worthy?

  7. Parent Hacks Editor says

    Whether or not you happen to like Dooce, her readers’ responses to this particular post were telling, touching, and — for me — a wake-up call. Insight often happens in unlikely places. I happen to love Dooce, but I respect that others don’t.

    I take offense to Michele’s implication that I wrote this “for the hits,” though. That was uncalled for.