Parenting is tough.
There are many myths and ideals about parenting. Some of which come true, but a lot don’t. These expectations often leave new parents feeling inadequate and disheartened that parenting is not all that they believed it to be. Becoming a parent was a huge change for me. Most days I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water and some days I felt like I was drowning. This is a common feeling in parents, partly created by the pressure of unrealistic parenting expectations.
So let’s bust some parenting myths.
1. Childbirth is a beautiful experience
A lot of women, especially first-time mums, have their birth plan all mapped out. Unfortunately, circumstances are often completely out of our control and for a lot of us that calm vaginal delivery is far from reality (we ended up with an emergency caesarean-section which was definitely not part of our plan). By all means have Plan A but be prepared for Plan B, Plan C or even Plan D. Focus on the SAFE delivery of your baby rather than the actual mechanics.
2. When you see your baby, it will be love at first sight
Society has brainwashed us to believe that the moment a parent holds their baby there will be an overwhelming sense of love and fulfilment. For some parents this will be true, and if it is, you are truly blessed. For others, it takes time to develop that special bond and that’s ok too. Either way, your baby will be loved.
3. Breastfeeding comes naturally and easily
Yes, breastfeeding is natural. But no, breastfeeding does not come naturally or easily. If it did, we wouldn’t need lactation consultants. Breastfeeding is hard work. It depends on your breasts, nipples and milk supply, not to mention your baby latching on properly, staying awake and not pulling off or biting. And let’s not forget the pain when you first start. While breastmilk is ideal, if breastfeeding is not for you or your breasts are just not co-operating, then don’t be scared to discuss bottle-feeding options with your midwife or doctor. At the end of the day, it’s about your baby getting the nutrients they need.
4. You will cherish every moment
Every is a lot. There will be moments that you cherish – a smile, a laugh, a cuddle, a kiss, and those special ‘firsts’ that they have in their lives. But there will be many moments that you will not cherish – the vomit, the poo explosions, the lack of sleep, the whining, the tantrums … just to name a few.
5. Good parents always put their children’s needs first
On the surface this sounds right, but think deeper. By always putting your child’s needs before yours, you are teaching them that they are the centre of the universe. By telling your child to wait in their highchair while you wash up the dishes, you teach them patience. By taking time-out to do something for yourself, you show your kids that self-care is important and that you have a life outside of being a parent. You can look after your child’s needs without sacrificing your own.
So please don’t buy into the hype of these parenting myths. Being a parent is hard enough without adding on the pressure of unrealistic expectations. Love your kids and do the best that you can. That’s all any of us can do.
PLEASE READ: Baby blues affects up to 80% of women. More than 1 in 7 new mums and up to 1 in 10 new dads experience Postnatal Depression. If you are struggling, please ask for help. You don’t need to go it alone. Check in with family and friends. And if things aren’t improving after a couple of weeks please see your healthcare professional for further support.
Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach
If you want to read this to your child, you might want to beep out the f-bomb. But for every sleep-deprived parent this is a must read. This book tells it like it really is, in all it's uncensored glory.