Temper Tantrums and Tears – And That’s Without Talking About Your Child’s Behaviour!
Four ways you can stop feeling like you’re the only parent with struggles
“They f**k you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to, but they do.” – Philip Larkin
There’s a wonderful poem by Philip Larkin called This Be The Verse. In it he talks about how our parents mess us up, even when they don’t want to, but it isn’t all their fault. They were messed up as well by their parents and so on and so on.
I love this poem so much because it has so much wisdom in it. The truth is that with the best will in the world, it won’t matter what you do as a parent. It’s impossible to avoid making some mistakes along the way. We all have those days when our child kept us up all night and then decides to paint a masterpiece on your freshly painted walls the next day, smashes your phone screen and leaves sticky fingerprints all over your favourite dress. It’s enough to make you cry (and I need you to know that it’s absolutely okay to let those tears flow).
As if that wasn’t bad enough, you go onto social media to see your friends sharing photos of their perfectly turned out child. You scroll through shot after shot of happy children baking cakes with their mums, making decorations for whatever festival is coming up and looking like something straight out of a perfect parenting catalogue.
What are you doing wrong?
Here’s the thing. I promise you that all your friends with those incredible photos have days just like yours. For all you know, right after that photo was taken, their child threw the cake batter all over the kitchen or had a major tantrum because they didn’t have the perfect shade of red for their picture. You won’t read about that on social media because we’re all so obsessed with presenting a particular image to the world and we’re all terrified of being vulnerable or judged for being bad parents.
You are not a bad parent.
Just by reading this blog, you’re already showing that you want to do the best possible job you can. That’s why I love being a parenting coach. I work with parents from a diverse range of backgrounds facing different challenges, but the one thing which unites all of them is a desire to want to give their child a good start in life. We all think we’re the only one to have the problems we do, but I promise you that whatever you’re having to cope with, there are thousands of parents out there dealing with exactly the same thing.
So if you want to stop feeling so alone, stop judging yourself or comparing yourself to others. We’re all in this parenting thing together! Rather than competing, we should all be working together – you never know whether you’ve got the solution to someone else’s problem.
There’s a few things I want you to think about the next time you’re tempted to beat yourself up because you don’t think you’re doing a good job as a parent:
- Comparing is normal but not necessary
It’s a natural human trait to look at what others are doing as a way of measuring your own performance, but you really don’t have to. You never know what someone else is going through and we’re all on our own path through life. Comparison is a great way of depressing yourself for no good reason, so quit it!
- Focus on your own family and let others focus on theirs
When you’re looking at what others are doing, your attention is in the wrong place. If you want to be the best parent possible, the only way you’re going to achieve this is by putting all your energy into your family. Sure, you can learn some great tips by looking at what other people have done, but ultimately, how someone else parents is none of your business. If you’re focused on someone else’s kids, you’re going to miss out on having some wonderful experiences with yours.
- Don’t isolate yourself
All parents need support. There’s nothing more isolating than being a young parent and feeling like you’ve got no one to talk to. Trust me. We’ve all been there. Start hanging around with parents you can actually talk to and then talk! We’re all muddling through, but so few of us actively talk about it. The more you can open up, the more supported you’ll feel rather than kidding yourself you’re the only person in the world with your problems. Try going to playgroups or volunteer at your child’s school to meet other parents. And if you really can’t find any people nearby you connect with, there’s a wealth of online support groups where you can build connections and get advice. In our modern internet age, you never need to feel alone.
- Accept your child for who they are
I know I’ve already told you to stop comparing yourself to others, but I’m going to repeat it for emphasis: stop comparing yourself to others! So your friend’s child is walking at two months and they already speak five languages while you’re lucky if your baby accidentally gurgles ‘mama’. So what? Each child is different and special in their own way. We all have the children we’re given, and they all have unique skills and talents to bring to the world. Whether your child walks at six months, twelve months, or eighteen months, it doesn’t matter. They all get there in their own time. If you don’t appreciate your child for who they are because you’re too worried about what someone else’s child is doing, you’ll miss out on so, so much.
Childhood is such a short period of time. Before you know it, your kids are moving on and having their own children. Once you accept that bad days happen to all of us and other parents know exactly what you’re going through, it becomes easier to do your best every day and be kind to yourself when you mess up.