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DBT, Parent Coaching

On Parenting: I’m Doing The Best I Can And I Can Do Better

A Perspective from a Parent and Parent Coach

Parenting can be the hardest role that we have, especially as the manual seems to have been misplaced while we’re left trying to gut it out day by day. There seems to be an expectation that as we’ve been there before that we’ll have the ability, knowledge and skills to help our children through the aging process. 

Just the regular parts of parenting — like deciding how to meet each child where they’re at – how to keep them safe – how to help them grow – how to support them on their march to adulthood –  is difficult in the best of times.

Add to that our need as parents to also be individuals. To create and maintain our own life, jobs, friendships, and relationships. Plus add our current set of circumstances: parenting while also being an individual during a pandemic and virtual learning and changes in social patterns. 

We are all doing the best we can given the circumstances.


So… what do we do when that doesn’t seem to be enough?

When we seem to be adding to our child’s struggle? When the help we provide seems to make their growing up process more difficult? 

It’s in those moments, when the parenting isn’t what you want it to be, that a core DBT concept provides a path forward. 


I’m doing the best I can and I can do better.

This dialectic, one of DBT’s Skills Training Assumptions, can be especially meaningful for those of us that are parents.

For those readers who are not familiar with dialectics or DBT or Skills Training Assumptions – here are some succinct explanations…

  1. Dialectics involve contradictions that are true in the same space, two truths that seem opposing.
  2. DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a skills-based therapy most effective for those who have Borderline Personality Disorder, mood disorders, substance use problems, or a combination of these diagnoses.
  3. The DBT Skills Training Assumptions are a set of beliefs that we use in DBT to help individuals and groups begin therapeutic work with a common framework.

This one in particular – doing the best we can and can do better- reminds us that we have a chance every day to do our best. That our attempts and efforts are transactional. Each day, each moment even, can be a clean slate that allows us to try something new.

It reminds us that evaluating our words and behaviors can be effective when get honest with ourselves. We can decide to use today’s parenting challenges and failures to change what will happen tomorrow. And that we make intentional changes directly related to our own behaviors, rather than forcing change upon our children. 

Doing our best is subjective. It is, in itself, a dialectic. Most of us that are steering a young person towards adulthood can agree that it takes effort, connection and recognition of our children as separate from us, different from us. 

This dialectic allows for acceptance and change in the same space.

And, if, after you do the work of reviewing and accepting your parenting, and you think you need help, ask! Reach Out.

Asking for help doesn’t mean you aren’t already doing your best. It means your are honoring your limitations and seeking help where you need it. Isn’t that what we want our kids to do too?

As the skills trainer for MCCC’s Parent Workshop, I assure you, help is available. Sometimes we all need extra support to do better.  

Learn how to embrace “Doing the Best I Can and I Can Do Better” With MCCC’s Online Parenting Classes

Our 8-week workshop is for parents of teens and young adults who struggle with emotional dysregulation and behavior issues. Parents with troubled teens benefit from learning DBT skills to help their children. But, you don’t have to have a child with mental illness to benefit from our DBT parenting classes. Even parents without troubled kids will find these skills helpful for creating a healthy home life for their family.

We run this workshop once per season so it is never too early or too late to enroll! Early Bird Pricing Available For the Fall Workshop

  1. Check out the full curriculum
  2. Email us to enroll in the next workshop
  3. Start Walking The Balance of “Doing the Best I Can and I Can Do Better” Today

About The Author

Beth Lawler, LMSW is a Licensed Masters Social Worker Therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center in Rockville, MD. She got her Bachelor’s degree in Management as part of the Public Safety Leadership Program at Johns Hopkins University. In 2014, she got her Masters in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She has extensive experience with a few populations: adolescents and young people transitioning into adulthood, parents with children who are experiencing difficult transitions, teens and adults with mood and substance use issues and adults transitioning into retirement and beyond. At MCCC, Beth provides both individual and family therapy and is the facilitator of our Online Parenting Class for Parents of Struggling Teens and Young Adults.

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