5 Reasons Why Parents Think They’re Doing A Bad Job …
… And How To Turn These Into Strengths!
Have you seen those humorous online job descriptions for the role of parents? The ones that list the requirements, stating you’ll be on call 24 hours, receive no salary (in fact, you ‘pay’ your children) and there is no retirement option!
These are funny because they help to put into perspective the enormity of the parenting role we undertake. They remind us that we never got any training to do this role; we’re constantly learning on the job! And, for some reason, even when we master a new skill, it seldom works with other children and the effectiveness of this skill can sadly be very short lived.
To be fair, some parents have a fair idea of what they’re getting into when they become parents. However, no amount of foresight or knowledge can fully prepare you for what lies ahead. In reality, there’s almost always an element of just taking the plunge and going for it.
So if this is true, why are we as parents so harsh on ourselves?
Reason #1 – I think other parents are doing a better job than me
This is a common misconception. We are quick to believe this lie because we are exposed to every part of our own life whilst only aware of select elements of the lives of others. Therefore, we often compare our worst experiences with the best experiences of others, resulting in an unhealthy and false perspective. This form of comparison is rarely beneficial.
There are two starting points from which we might compare ourselves to other parents, from a superior position or an inferior position.
- A superior position results in us looking down on someone else and failing to see their potential. Ironically, this actually ends up feeding our own insecurity, because we feel we have to stay a step ahead of others.
- An inferior position results in us questioning whether we can ever be as good as someone else and will again feed our insecurity.
Turn this into a strength: Change your perspective to value yourself as the best person for the job. We all have different gifts and qualities. Start to recognise these in yourself and others.
Reason #2 – I believe other parents have a better family life
Social media can play a huge part in this. We can look at someone else’s posts which often present a level of perfection that doesn’t fit with our reality. We can get drawn into this false perspective that says everyone else is doing family life better.
Without even realising it, our focus can be more on ‘striving for perfection’ rather than ‘building connections’; the pursuit of perfection is impossible to maintain and will inevitably set you up for failure, self-criticism and unhealthy comparisons.
Turn this into a strength: Change your perspective to value uniqueness. Enjoy that your family is made up of different personalities and that each member is a significant contributor to your unique family. Create an atmosphere of acceptance rather than striving for perfection.
Reason #3 – I’m told my children should behave a certain way, but the rules keep changing
We live in a society that is constantly changing its values, opinions and advice.
For example, we are constantly told what we should or shouldn’t eat, drink and do, in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle; this advice is sometimes contradictory and often confusing. Instead of this information empowering us, we can feel that all paths we take will be wrong.
This can also be the case with raising children. Conflicting advice can cause parents and children to be unsure of where the boundaries are. ‘Advisors’ can focus too much on behaviour and not enough on emotional wellbeing; subsequently, the advice is often aimed at behaviour management, rather than recognising underlying feelings to empower children to solve their problems.
Turn this into a strength: Change your perspective to value the big picture for your family. Take back control by setting your own family goals. Find ways to encourage open dialogue, where everyone’s feelings and opinions can be heard.
Reason #4 – I believe anything negative I hear about myself
Scientific research has shown that our brains process negative information and positive information differently. We are far more likely to remember the negatives in greater detail.
Even when we think we have batted off a negative comment, we can still end up processing it, both consciously and subconsciously. When we hear something negative about ourselves or our parenting, we are quick to reason that it must be true. Additionally, if we hear something positive we are more inclined to dismiss it. When left alone in our thoughts we will often find ways to validate the negative things we’ve heard and discredit the positive. At our core, we are more likely to believe and be affected by negative comments.
Turn this into a strength: Change your perspective to value all the positive choices you’ve made. Write down encouraging statements about yourself, your children and your family, that help you to refocus attention to anything that is great. Stick these in key areas around your home to reinforce the positive message.
Reason #5 – I don’t always enjoy being with my children
This is normal.
It’s OK not to want to be with your children every second of every day.
This doesn’t mean you don’t love them; sometimes they are physically exhausting and you can feel like you haven’t got anything left to give. At other times, they can take you through such extreme emotions that you don’t like some of the feelings you experience. Being a parent is a demanding and often exhausting job, making certain days, seasons or choices seem disappointing or limiting.
Turn this into a strength: Change your perspective to value time for yourself. The best way to be a great parent is to make sure you are looking after yourself. If you want your children to have good wellbeing, then you need to look after your own wellbeing first. Taking a bit of time out, to pursue a hobby or an interest or simply to relax, isn’t selfish. It can be one of the best things you can do for your family. Having something that recharges your batteries can help you to gain a healthier perspective on family life.