Sunday, 15 Apr 2018
How to be a "good enough" parent
By Private Therapy Clinic
No sooner does a woman announce her pregnancy than she is bombarded with well-meaning advice on how to take care of the future child. It seems as though everyone is suddenly an expert. And with fathers increasingly playing a very active role in childcare, they’re not immune from all the unwanted advice, either.
Young mums and dads often worry that they are not parenting right if they aren’t perfect—and with debate raging over approaches like attachment parenting and controlled crying, nobody even knows what “perfect” looks like. It can all be very difficult.
Everyone wants to do their best for their kids, and when some parents feel that they are coming up short, they can feel guilty and become filled with self-doubt. These negative emotions can sneak in over something as small as serving premade fish-fingers rather than home-made ones coated in panko crumbs, or foregoing the evening bath ritual to have a glass of wine while the little ones watch TV. They can come in response to well-meant advice, or even from taking too seriously the suggestions of the plethora of (often mutually contradictory) books dedicated to the topic of raising children.
Studies show that one of the most important factors in a child’s life is forming a secure attachment. This refers to the bond formed between a young child and their primary caregivers. A securely attached child feels confident that he or she is loved and supported. Knowing this, it is easier for them to cope when mum and dad are away, when they are in childcare, or whenever they have to confront a challenge in their everyday lives. With a foundation of secure attachment, they are more likely to become happy, engaged, successful adults.
It is very important for kids to learn the skills that accompany self-reliance. Nobody should feel guilty about not being with their children every hour of the day. Parents need breaks from parenting, and—once they are out of babyhood—children benefit from breaks from their parents, too, when they can experience different ways of doing things, and experiment with their fledgling sense of independence.
Most parents don’t expect their children to be “perfect”, because every human being has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, and they should not demand “perfection” from themselves, either, for the exact same reason. In any family, it’s OK to occasionally feel irritated, overwhelmed, or disengaged. We can acknowledge those feelings and deal with them without beating ourselves up over them. Of course, children need to be properly fed and clothed, kept clean, and exposed to educational and interesting stimuli—but parents need their down time too, and no amount of museum-visiting will make up for mum and dad getting stressed out and becoming emotionally unavailable.
The most important thing that any parent can do for their child is love them, and demonstrate that love with affection, and by giving the help and support that is wanted and needed.
WHO CAN I SPEAK TO FURTHER ABOUT THE ISSUES IN THIS ARTICLE?
For help with the issues discussed in this article speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.