Our guest blog this month comes from Amanda, our BabyNatal teacher for Otley, Ilkley and North Leeds. She has written about a subject which often comes up with new parents… Guilt.
Why do we always have something to feel guilty about as parents? As soon as we see that blue line we start to doubt ourselves; were we healthy enough when baby was conceived? Have we already reduced our child’s intelligence by drinking alcohol, eating meat, feeling stressed, neglecting our vitamin intake, watching Eastenders? Are we already bad parents because we find ourselves playing Metallica to our unborn child while the newly purchased Baby Mozart CD gathers dust on the shelf?
Should we be attending every single childbirth class and reading every single parenting book? Are we already neglectful parents if we don’t? And what about all the baby paraphernalia – cots, moses baskets, prams, pushchairs, changing stations, car seats, high chairs, baby carriers, monitors, nappies and bath chairs. Not to mention toe clippers, thermometers, nasal suction devices (!), baby wipes, bottles, sterilisers and dummies. Are these all essential for our child’s health and happiness? Will we regret it if we don’t purchase the expensive sterilising system that can be switched on remotely using the essential baby app on our even more essential state of the art baby proof iPhone? Should we move house so that we can fit all this stuff in? And this is all before baby is even born!
When our precious little bundle arrives, the pressure and associated guilt only increases. Should we breast or bottle feed? If we bottle feed will we be ostracised by society? If we breast feed how do we know if baby is getting enough milk? Should we use reusable or disposable nappies, reusable or disposable wipes? How much should our baby sleep? And where? And when? If we leave baby with gran for a couple of hours while we have some time together are we being selfish? Does this mean we don’t love our baby as much as other parents who would “never leave their baby, ever”? Should we practise attachment parenting? Do we really know what attachment parenting is? How exactly are we “making a rod for our own backs”?!
And so it continues. Being a parent is not easy. Being a parent can put you on a constant guilt trip…if you let it.
In the end it doesn’t matter how everyone else raises their children or how they think you should raise yours. What matters is how you want to raise your children. As long as a child is fed, cared for and loved, does it really matter if you don’t clothe him or her in top to toe organic clothes? Will they really be less intelligent than their peers if you don’t play classical music to them every day? Will it really make you a better parent if your baby has the latest high tech, three-speed pushchair complete with brakes, iPhone docking station, integrated speakers and automated robotic nappy changing attachment (if only!)? No. All your baby wants is you, your touch, your smell, your love and your smile.
Ditch the guilt. Nobody is perfect, and nobody needs to be perfect. As a parent, we always look at other people and compare ourselves with them. We compare how we are coping. We compare our babies – their feeding, sleeping and (oh yes) their pooing habits. We can start to judge ourselves, harshly if our family life does not seem to be as idyllic as the person sat next to us at baby group. But we all wear masks. We all carefully cover the dark rings under our eyes, and we all smile when sometimes we just feel like crying. And we all wonder if we are good enough parents.
We are good enough. You are good enough. Trust yourselves. Stop listening to what everyone says you should do and be the parent you want to be. Your child will appreciate this. Your child does not want the perfect parent; your child simply wants you. You are and always will be enough.
Ditch the guilt.
Amanda is a mum of two and BabyNatal teacher for Otley, Ilkley and North Leeds.
Find out more about Amanda and her classes, including the BabyNatal Practical Baby Care and BabyNatal Developmental Baby Massage, on our main website here.