Real Parenting: 6 Things You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About
First off, let’s all take a moment to accept the ultimate truth about parenting – IT ISN’T EASY! One day you learn that you’re going to become a parent and start reading up on every possible guide to raise a model child; the next thing you know, you’re knee-deep in stained clothes and broken toys, trying to hear the thoughts in your head while your kid screams in the background. Kids don’t come with an instruction manual and pieces of conflicting parenting advice will overflow from every corner, so, of course, you’re bound to be confused about certain matters.
Now, confusion is acceptable. But there are certain perfectly reasonable things that you will have to do or say or make decisions about that can make you feel guilty; and well, they shouldn’t!
6 Things You Need to Stop Feeling Guilty About As a Parent
If anyone (including yourself!) gives you a hard time over the following things, know that you have nothing to feel guilty about!
1. Being a Working Parent
This tends to be especially true in the case the mother is also working, because dads are expected to be the primary breadwinners. As a working mom, you probably feel bad about sacrificing the time you could spend with your child, by working (more so if you actually enjoy your job).
But why should you feel bad about contributing to the income of the family, putting your education to use, and setting a good example for your child? And let’s face it, we’re not living in very inexpensive times either, and an additional income is always beneficial!
“But how do I make it up to my child?”
Duties at home are the responsibilities of both parents, for starters, so make sure that they’re designated proportionately, so that you both have enough time to spend with your child. When you’re with your little one, make sure that he knows that it’s just you and him, with no space for anyone else. Once in a rare while, play hooky too; skip a day at work, take him out of school, and go have a parent-child day! Those are the memories he’s going to cherish once he’s all grown up!
2. Not Being Able to Give Your Child Everything His Peers Have
As a parent, we’re sure you’re already providing your kid with quality education, plenty of wholesome meals, coaching in extra-curricular activities – you know, things that a parent ought to provide. But if you’re going to give in to all of your child’s material desires or compare what you’re giving him with what his peers are getting, you’re just going to find yourself wracked with guilt. This is an unnecessary burden you’re carrying. In fact, giving your child everything he asks for isn’t going to teach him very valuable lessons. You may just end up spoiling him and he may grow up to be materialistic.
“But won’t he resent me for not giving him what he wants?”
Kids are always going to be fascinated by something new, just as much as they may lose interest in it almost the very next day. Granted, saying ‘no’ won’t make you very popular, but giving in to all of your child’s whims and fancies will just make him lose value for the things you do for him. Ensure that he doesn’t grow up to understand that spending less money means that he’s in unfortunate situations. If anything, teach him to be grateful for all that he has. But this doesn’t mean you refuse him everything he asks for. If you see that there is something he earnestly wishes for, get it or do it for him. After all, who else can make his wishes come true, if not his parents!
3. For Occasionally Yelling At Your Kid
Unless your child is an absolute saint (lucky you!), he’s going to be up to some mischief or the other that will warrant some hard words and yelling from you. It’s not the most pleasant feeling and you’ll often feel bad that you’ve scolded your precious little munchkin so harshly. Well, not going to lie, you’re going to be doing this for quite a while; and that’s only because you love your baby so much that you can’t imagine any harm befalling him! But if yelling and losing your patience is all that seems to go on from your end, then there could be a problem.
“So what should I do?”
Identify whether your response to your child’s antics are healthy or seem to be a bit too much, both, the reactions (excessive yelling, intense anger, creating a stressful environment) and its frequency. While yelling at your child once because he upturned the entire bottle of juice right after you’ve cleaned the kitchen floor is actually okay (come on, you just mopped that entire area!), screaming after him continuously isn’t! There may be underlying reasons which may cause you to overreact to the smallest of things, and if there are, they need to be checked and corrected. However, if you’ve yelled at him for something that turned out to be no fault of his, apologise; it teaches him that saying sorry is important, whether you’re a child OR a parent.
4. For Not Denying Your Child His Screen Time
Today’s parents have yet another aspect of new-age parenting to be ashamed about – letting their kids watch TV or play video games. For some reason, today, it’s considered that any bit of leisure time in a child’s day requires to be optimised for his development, and watching TV could harm his intellect! Why, though? Didn’t we all grow up watching cartoons and shows on TV, and didn’t it help us in many ways? Didn’t we learn a new language or learn about a new culture; or just had fun and have memories to look back on when we’re all grown up now? And honestly, the time that the kids are in front of a screen does fetch the parent some downtime – a win-win situation that you shouldn’t feel bad about!
“But what if he gets addicted?”
Well, of course, you should be clear about the rules of screen time – when your child gets to watch TV or play games, for how long, and when it should be completely off limits. If it gets to the point where his screen time gets in the way of actually socialising with others, it certainly needs an intervention. But if it isn’t a big problem, let the kid have his 1 hour of Pokemon or Chota Bheem; he deserves to have stories of his favourite after-school TV show when he grows up!
5. For Your Child’s Misbehaviour in Public
If your child throws tantrums in the supermarket because you said no to him getting a spatula (little kids want everything they see, don’t they!), don’t peg this as your fault. Little kids misbehave, and that’s a known fact. The looks you’re getting from others are either those of sympathy from people who’ve ‘been there and done that’, or those of irritation from people who’ve clearly not handled kids a lot!
“But what I do if it gets out of hand?”
Your child’s misbehaviour can be traced back to being hungry, being tired, being overstimulated, or just wanting to test your patience! Feed him if he’s being cranky and try not to schedule outdoor tasks and chores when your child is bound to be tired. But if he’s causing trouble on purpose, you need to devise effective disciplinary strategies. Make sure that he realises that his actions will have consequences, and enforce them with urgency. Immediate consequences leave a lasting impression on the child and he’s bound to not repeat his mistake.
6. Not Being Able to Be a Super-Parent
If anyone has come across as the ideal parent to you – perfectly dressed and well-behaved kids with their perfectly dressed and well-behaved parents – know that you caught them on their best day. Every parent struggles with the multiple roles that have been bestowed upon him or her – mom/dad, working professional, chef, in-house doctor, emotional punching bag, homework helper, every-problem-in-the-world-solver – and it does get to be too much at times. Beating yourself up for not being able to fix your child’s latest problem or having forgotten to pack his lunch, even, is not the answer.
“But I’m supposed to be able to do it all!”
You’re a parent, but you’re also only human. There will be days you would want to throw in the towel, break down in tears, or want to blame yourself for not being the ‘fixer’. Have your moment of getting it all out, but remember that you’re still, and will always be, your child’s superhero. Be willing to ask AND accept help whenever you need. Your child isn’t going to lose all love and respect for you if he finds out that you too can fail at something; it will teach him that no one is perfect, and that’s quite alright.
At the end of the day, no one knows what’s best for your kids like you do. Make your decisions, let go of perfection, admit your mistakes, seek advice, and don’t let the parent-guilt get to you while you’re doing better than anyone can for your child!