I take my son to a playgroup a few mornings a week, only to feel anxious and nervous the entire time we are there. At 15 months, he finds it highly enjoyable to hug and kiss people, which actually results in him tackling and biting another child. While he made great improvements recently, I feel the need to watch him closely. I don’t want him to accidentally hurt another child with his not-so-gentle affections. I worry that he will make another child cry.
Because when you work diligently to have a well behaved child and your child does the exact opposite, the pressure of parenting feels intense. The pressure that you are not doing well enough. The guilt that you could be doing more.
Working through these feelings of pressure and guilt is something I’ve really had to work on lately. I think we all feel the pressure of parenting at one time or another. And I think it’s healthy to quell those negative feelings of mom guilt and parenting pressure by using a few strategies to help us travel down a more rewarding parenting path.
1. Follow your instincts.
A motherly instinct is matched by no other. I try to remind myself that there is a balance when it comes to intervening.
I don’t want my son to accidentally hurt another child, but I can successfully redirect him without hovering all the time. Keeping a close eye on him, I try to use my instincts to sense when he may try to bite or grab another child too forcefully.
After teaching him to be gentle and kind, I found that many times he was actually trying to be gentle and kind. Intervening too soon may result in correcting a behavior that wasn’t even bad.
2. Utilize thoughtful and intentional parenting.
There are tons of parenting methods out there. So many that it often feels overwhelming to me, and I wonder if it’s possible to ever make the right parenting choice. I think if we read the information and make an informed decision then we can’t go wrong.
We all want to do the best we can. Simply trying to be thoughtful and intentional in my parenting choices helps me feel less pressure and guilt overall.
3. Be confident in your choices.
Once I start down a thoughtful and intentional parenting path, I start to feel more confident in my decisions. Was my son’s behavior perfect when touching and interacting with other children? No, not really.
But I was trying my best to teach him, and he seemed to be trying his best to learn. We are a work in progress in our home. We are learning and growing each day, and we should feel good about that.
4. Focus on what you do well.
I’m not great at crafts or being creative during playtime. I’m trying, but it is certainly not my parenting strong point. What I do well though is bedtime and routines. My son rocks at bedtime and thrives on routines. As a parent, I try focusing on what I do reasonably well. While I don’t always create the perfect creative space for my son, I can do an awesome bath, read stories, massage and cuddle him to the nines before laying him down and peacefully walking away.
5. Avoid comparing.
It’s tough to see what other parents and children are doing and wonder if I am messing this whole thing up. Especially in the digital era, it’s easy to notice all the amazing things other parents are doing.
Comparing my parenting to others does not serve me well. I try to think of different parenting styles and methods simply as difference choices. Neither good, nor bad, just different. Different is good.
6. Seek support.
Getting a bit of encouragement from friends and family does wonders for my spirit. I feel better. Even if I make a bad parenting choice (like the time I bit my son), I share it with a friend. Sometimes a good friend will say, “You’re right, that probably wasn’t a wise parenting decision, but you can move forward, focus on the positive, and become better each day.”
Mom guilt is a tough thing to work through, but friends and family help support, encourage, and inspire me to feel less pressure and improve on my parenting without over stressing me.
If you are ever wondering, I have to share: you aren’t a bad person if today’s high-pressure parenting stakes make you feel anxious and worried. In fact, I would say you are quite normal.
Trying to be a super parent is stressful. Worrying less about what others are doing and being intentional in my parenting choices helps me feel a little less pressure and guilt. And that’s a good thing.
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