Monday, 3 August 2015

You are not a bad parent!

A lot of my clients are really nervous the first time we speak. They say things like "I know it's selfish but...", "I know it's my fault." or "It probably makes me a bad parent." They are waiting for me to tell them that their child's bad behaviour is down to their unacceptable parenting style, that they are denying their child's basic needs or that everything is their fault and they have failed. Sometimes they feel that even contacting me in the first place is an admission of failure. The truth is, I have never yet had a client who was a bad parent, and I doubt I ever will.

You are not a bad parent.

1) You are reading this

Bad parents don't care about their children. They put their own need for drink or drugs above their child's need for food. They beat a child to keep him quiet. They let her roam an unsafe neighbourhood at a very young age because then she isn't pestering them. You get the idea.

A bad parent doesn't spend time reading parenting blogs. They don't look for help or advice when they don't feel confident. They don't worry about doing this parenting thing well. If you are reading this, you care. And that makes you a good parent.

2) You have done your best

If you are anything like my clients then you have always done your best. From giving up certain foods when you were pregnant to investigating local schools you have always wanted to do the best by your children and give them a wonderful start in life. But things in the world of parenting are confusing! Maybe in your pre-child life it was a bit simpler, these are the rules - follow the procedure and you get the required result. Follow the guidelines, apply the formula. In many careers things do work that way. But not with children! Children are complex, with many different things that all affect each other from personality to physical attributes to sleep, food, background. It's a never ending list! Add to that the fact that every expert seems to have a different and opposing view, let alone your mother, sister and Great Aunt Dot. No wonder you might get confused from time to time!

If you have started down a path that turned out to be the wrong one for your family it doesn't mean you are a bad parent. It means you chose the best option you could with the information available to you at the time. Everybody takes a wrong turn now and then. You just need a good map to get back on track!

3) You have never done this before

When you had you first baby, had you ever held a newborn before? If your experience with babies was nothing more than a quick cuddle before handing them back then how on earth could you be expected to get everything right first time? Even if you had done lots of babysitting, or been around younger brothers and sisters, you were never the one in charge. You never had the ultimate responsibility for a small life.

What other job is there where you are thrown in at the deep end with no training and no supervisor to turn to? I'll tell you right now, I couldn't walk into a doctor's office and start treating patients or represent a client in a courtroom. I would be lost in a newspaper office without instruction. If I had to do those jobs I would need to get someone to train me, show me the way. That isn't failure, it's just being sensible!

Now, a lot of parenting is instinctual, common sense, or generally known. I'm not saying you need a degree to raise a child. But it's not surprising if you occasionally run into something you need help with, and it doesn't make you a bad parent. Infact recognising that and asking for help makes you a good parent!

4) Your child is unique

Your child is not your friend's child, your second baby is not your first all over again, neither of them are the children you imagined before they were born. Every child is unique, and every family is unique. What works for one doesn't work for another, even if they are siblings. The fact that your neighbour's child eats anything, or your mother says you were sleeping through the night by 8 weeks, or your oldest never threw temper tantrums doesn't make you a bad parent. It just means that you are parenting this unique, precious, wonderful child who presents you with unique challenges that you haven't quiet got worked out yet. But you are doing your best, and you will get there!

If you feel like a bad parent right now, know that I can help you. Whatever you might be struggling with I can help to take away some of the guilt and show you new ways to move forwards. Why not book a free discovery call to find out more?