Perfect Parenting – Living with the Problem

Almost all people arriving at parenthood for the first time report feeling some degree of uneasiness including loss of patience, lack of self-confidence, and diminished expectations. Such feelings may lead us to fear that our shortfalls might be affecting our child.

The problems of first time parenting can range from feelings of:

  • desolation so severe that it is called postpartum depression.
  • inadequacy when faced with the responsibility for another’s well being.
  • disconnection, lack of an immediate bonding with one’s newborn.

Most people, especially women, have had a lifetime of preparation and training for that magical transcendence into parenthood. When we finally arrive, we often endure experiences that don’t match these lifelong expectations. This often leads us into feelings of self-doubt and guilt.

For women, self-doubt and guilt are compounded with the choice of being either a stay-at-home mom or a working mom. Even if the decision is experienced as a choice, mothers are constantly bombarded with messages that suggest either role has unfortunate implications for her children.

The difficulties that arise when adjusting our lives to a new 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week job is monumental.

Couples report experiencing:

  • competition with each other
  • jealousy
  • little time for their relationship
  • guilt when time is devoted to their partner.

Single parents report experiencing:

  • lack of support
  • isolation
  • exhaustion
  • stress
  • lives that include little but children and work

If the pregnancy was not planned or the couple’s relationship is threatened or ending, they report experiencing:

  • resentment toward the child
  • feelings of being trapped

Additionally, if a child is different from what we expected or hoped for – perhaps with a serious medical problem – we may be unprepared for the special challenges. When parenthood comes through a less “normal” route – adoption or pregnancy of a single woman, or a very young woman – we may face societal disapproval or lack of support.

Even if we feel an immediate loving bond with our child, and surprise ourselves with our ease at parenting and ability to sustain other important aspects of our lives, we may continue still to worry about our parenting skills.

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