“Think about the children!”
“This isn’t about you! When you became a parent, it became all about them!”
Well intentioned chides from family and friends are devastating our abilities to parent in our own ways, with our own instincts.
Oh and my favorite? “Have you read the book or studies about this?”
Yeah. There is a book or study supporting every single method of parenting out there. Ever.
Parenting is the most difficult, most emotionally challenging thing a human will ever do. But what’s worse is that instead of supporting each other, we make the parenting journey even more difficult by projecting doubt and judgement.
Let’s look at the goal of parenting: To raise responsible, morally conscious and kind adults that are confident in their own skin – perhaps even with the same religion or value system as your own.
But then we go and add a ton of pressures to parenting that doesn’t even need to be there! We have to have stuff to brag about. Our kids have to be shown off. We need photos for social media. We need them to be the best at what they do. They need to be well-behaved children. And the biggest pressure of all is – we need to be seen as the most devoted parents of all.
We must follow the social norms of our culture so that we are praised and viewed as “successful parents.”
I don’t know about you, but fitting into a social-construct is an unnecessary strain. It’s stressful and difficult to maintain longterm. What often ends up happening is a dissonance between the image you portray online and in public and the reality of life offline, in your home.
Let’s get real honest here: life isn’t pretty. It doesn’t go according to plan. And sorry self-help books, you can’t follow a step-by-step guide to have a fulfilled happy life. The only thing you can do is get up when you fall down and keep going. How that exactly plays out is extremely different for every person.
Now add dependent children to that equation. There simply isn’t one correct way to parent! Take 3 sets of parents in the same exact situation and you will get 3 very different outcomes and methods of parenting. This is because we all bring with us our own value systems, our past, our personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and struggles.
In my (very un-professional) opinion, the only way to truly fail as a parent is to intentionally harm a child. I’ve heard of parents that try to follow every rule and have the best home for their kids and the kids just get mixed up with the wrong friends and get in trouble. Did those parents fail? NO. Life is messy.
Parents: if your heart aches for your child and the decisions you make for him/her come from your gut and you are doing your best, you are succeeding at parenting. No more pressure.
A toddler throwing a fit does not a failure of a parent make. A 3 year old that refuses to potty train doesn’t mean you are a bad parent. A working mom is not a bad mom. A family that divorces isn’t composed of worse parents that one that stayed married “for the kids.”
Parenting is exhausting and there is no holiday or days off. The rewards are immense! Raising a human that will go into the world as a kind, loving and confident adult is going to make this world a brighter place. Don’t let anyone add more pressure to your journey that you already put on yourself.