Written by: Stéphanie Deslauriers
Ah, that’s THE question that torments pretty much every young parent! Am I doing enough for my kid? Or too much? Is it normal that I wish I could be alone on a desert island today?
It looks like this question has been gaining in popularity among young parents since they now have a million (if not more!) people to compare themselves to on social networks. “Wow! Her house is always spotless even with three children. How does she do it? Why can’t I be like her?” “Their kids constantly have a smile on their face, while mine throw the occasional tantrum.” “Being a mom looks so easy for her…”
Parents compare their real life to a virtual one in which every photo and post is carefully selected to reflect a small part of a fleeting reality. So, they end up comparing themselves to an illusion, nothing more. No wonder parents second-guess themselves so much if they believe everyone is better at parenting than they are!
I’m referring to a support network here: friends, family, neighbours, and so forth. Who do you think could understand your situation because they’ve been there too, are going through the same thing right now, or could lend an ear without any form of judgment?
You can also go to your local community centre or neighbourhood park to meet other parents and simply… talk. Have an open and frank conversation. This puts a lot of things in perspective. You’ll feel less alone, realize that other parents doubt themselves too… and that they also sometimes give in and make their kids Kraft Dinner when lacking inspiration. And you know what, it’s ok.
This concept derives from the work of British pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott in the 50s. It defends that children don’t need perfect parents; they need good enough parents. It takes parents who can meet their children’s physical and psychological needs, who make mistakes, get into conflicts, and sometimes have bad reactions. Children need realistic and achievable role models, not seemingly perfect parents who make them feel like they can never measure up.
In our Internet-dominated world, anyone can access an astronomical quantity of information, whenever, wherever. This may be practical, yes, but it can also be stress-inducing. While some specialists swear by one particular approach in the field of child development, others praise a totally different one. Phew! That’s a lot of contradictions to read and listen to, and it can all become pretty confusing. Parents end up drifting away from their own beliefs and values to blindly follow an approach that might not be a good fit for them… nor their children. There’s no such thing as a magical, universal formula: everyone’s unique. Every family has its own ways, and that’s perfectly fine! So yes, it’s a good idea to seek information—especially when wondering about family dynamics or a specific behaviour. But as a parent, it’s important to put things into perspective and question what YOU want to apply and impart to your children.
Take a look at yourself and your children’s well-being; you’ll get a good idea of the quality of your actions. And when you feel like you’re in way over your head, you can ask for help. No one expects parents to have all the answers all the time. Relying on a personal or professional network indicates that you’re a humble parent who strives for their family to be happy.
So, “am I a good parent?” You already know the answer: YES!