The other day a lovely friend of mine asked “why doesn’t anyone talk about how parenting is really hard?” Although she was not actually looking for an answer from me, she did get me thinking. She is right. Not a lot of people talk about how hard parenting actually is and the toll it takes on ones overall well-being, on their relationships, and work. At times, some may bond over making a joke about all the diapers, but the real connection that can happen when talking about the difficulty of parenting is not always present. So this got me thinking about why that is and here are some of my thoughts on the topic.
Why We Do Not Talk About How Hard Parenting Is?
As a society we have been told and have learned to expect that having a family will make us happy. Pictures of happy families are everywhere. Sometimes people think having a child will heal them, create joy, or even bring a relationship back together. We believe children can save us in some aspect or give us the life we have always wanted. How could I complain about it or tell others the truth?
These beliefs lead to unrealistic expectations. As women, when we have expectations that we are able to be great mothers, partners, employees, friends, all while having a smile on our face in a clean house. This concept of comparing ourselves to others has been around for a very long time, however what is different now is that it is constantly at our finger tips. We can look at our friends and see their amazing pictures and believe others have it so well. Over time, this idea of comparing impacts your mental health. Women can believe they are not good enough because they may not have it together. Maybe you yell at your kids, maybe they watch too much TV, have eaten grilled cheese all week, or everyone is wearing the same clothes 3 days in a row. With the belief that others are doing this mothering thing amazingly, it makes sense that no one talks about how hard it really is to be a mom, let alone how hard it is to parent. Who wants to admit their kids don’t listen to them?
What to do?
1. Friendship: Find a friend that you can trust and tell her how hard this mothering gig is. I am not talking about complaining about the amount of laundry (although this type of connection can have a place in the friendship), but sharing how you really feel. When you want to truly connect about how hard it is, tell what you are really struggling with such as “sometimes I feel so alone because I will go 12 hours without having a real conversation and then I find myself yelling at my kids”. It is important to authentically connect with others and be supportive of each other. Receiving an empathetic response might be all someone really needs.
2.Self-care: As moms, we need to have time for our own self-care. Discover ways that help you deal with your stress that are healthy such has reading a good book, taking a bath, exercise, meditation or listening to music. When you take time to take care of your own needs, you will find you have more patience with your children.
3. Communication: Talk to your partner about how you may be struggling. Each share how you would like to parent and find a common ground. Consistency is important in parenting and just getting on the same page can be very helpful. Also if you need your own time, explain that to your partner. Sometimes women may have a hard time asking for time away from their family, but it may be really needed. Motherhood is hard. Parenting is hard. When we start to talk about the difficulties, we are opening the conversation so that others know they are not alone.
4. Education: Parenting is really hard. Often, our only teachers are our own parents. For some, this may be a good experience while others have learned what not to do. Understanding that how your parents raised you is a good first step into understanding your own parenting. If what you are doing does not seem to be working for you, it can be helpful to talk with a professional who offers parenting support.
I would love to know your thoughts? What part of parenting is hard for you? What part is easy?