As parents, we seem to share a tendency of giving ourselves a hard time. We worry that we’re not spending enough time with our children, we may feel guilty for our mistakes and compare ourselves to other parents who seem to be doing a much better job than us. It seems that many of us are good at having compassion when it comes to our friends and family members, but not so good at treating ourselves with the same level of kindness and understanding.
It seems that parents beat themselves for a number of reasons, but according to this article entitled ‘8 Ways Parents Can Stop Beating Themselves Up’ these are four of the most common:
Our relationships change
With busy schedules and children to look after, lots of parents find that they lose touch with their friends after having kids. In fact, a survey conducted by Action for Children Media found that 25% of mums said that they feel lonely, isolated and cut off from friends. If you find yourself feeling lonely at times, remember that this is completely normal. Relationships do tend to change after we have children, but if we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion rather than blaming ourselves for the relationship difficulties that we face, such changes become far easier to deal with.
Comparing ourselves to others
Comparing ourselves (often unfavourably!) to others is part of human nature, but this tendency is often exacerbated when we become parents. When our children are misbehaving, other people’s children can start to look like angels! But it’s important to remember that appearances can be deceptive – every parent struggles at some point or another, and every parent questions whether they are making the choices for their child. So next time you find yourself comparing your parenting skills to those around you, remind yourself that nobody’s perfect and that just like everybody else, you’re simply doing the best that you can.
Feeling judged by those around us
When our child decides to misbehave or have a tantrum in a public space, it can be very difficult to ignore the disapproving glares of those around us. And during such challenging moments people always seem to have some comment to make or ‘useful’ advice to share and this can be very frustrating and sometimes even hurtful when we’re already doubting our parenting ability. When you feel judged in this way, it’s important to remember that people are just trying to be helpful and their comments are usually made with the best of intentions. The most important opinion is yours, so have faith in yourself, and learn to only listen to others when you feel that their advice is genuinely helpful.
Not giving ourselves room to make mistakes
When we mess up as parents (which we inevitably will at some time or another!), we have a decision to make – we can be gentle with ourselves, remind ourselves that everyone makes mistakes and use it as an opportunity for learning, or we can beat ourselves up and make the whole situation worse. Unfortunately, it seems that rather than being patient and forgiving of ourselves, many parents take the latter approach. So next time you start feeling guilty for a mistake that you have made, try to see the funny side of the situation and embrace your mistake as a learning experience.
When it comes to parenting self-compassion is important, but when we do feel guilt, we can deal with it more effectively by looking at ways in which we can improve our parenting skills. Indeed as research shows, it’s ultimately the quality of the time that we spend with our children that is more important than the amount of time we spend with them.