Few parents, if any, will say that parenting is a walk in the park. The truth is that parenting is real, raw, and involves a great deal of hard work. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. While the happy moments are certainly there, they tend to get overshadowed by moments of anxiety, frustration, and fatigue.
Our lives change once kids come on the scene and nothing is ever the same again. From dealing with the toddler tantrums to the taxing teen years and their eventual adulthood, nothing about raising kids is easy.
Parenting Expectations Vs. Reality
As parents, we always want the best for our kids. We want them to grow into well-adjusted, independent, responsible and happy adults. We loathe to see our children suffer, and we will go to great lengths to ensure that they’re safe, healthy and on the right track.
To make things even more difficult, today’s world puts a lot of pressure on us. We parents find ourselves ambushed at every turn by messages about bringing up the perfect kids, ensuring they eat all the right foods, getting them into the right schools and performing parenthood to superhuman standards. We are expected to not only raise smart, healthy and happy kids but to also be happy, healthy parents.
Mental and Emotional Hoops We Jump Through for Our Kids
To ensure our kids get the very best we can offer, we keep jumping over what seems to be an endless series of mental and emotional hoops, some of our own creation. We stumble, often trip and sometimes fall, but we always get up and try again until things work out.
1. Straining to achieve a work-life balance. The life of a parent is a full and busy one. This still doesn’t stop us from chasing the ever-elusive work-life balance.
Somewhere along our parenthood journey, we internalize the message that we’re supposed to strike a perfect balance between our work and families. We feel guilty if we spend a little more time at work than at home or if we take some time off work to sort out a family issue. Life would be so much simpler if we just accepted that this is more of a juggling act rather than a balancing one.
2. Befriending constant anxiety.
Once you’re a parent, anxiety becomes your companion. You worry constantly about every aspect of your kids’ lives and the world suddenly seems like a big, scary, and dangerous place. As your kids move to their teen years, your anxiety intensifies. So much can go wrong what with peer pressure, risky behaviors, pressure from social media along with millions of other things.
For parents, anxiety is one of those hoops you never quite manage to jump. You just accept it as part of your life with kids and find ways to minimize your worries.
3. Parental guilt.
Along with anxiety, parental guilt seems to be an intrinsic part of parenting. We spend hours feeling guilty about how we’re raising our kids, torturing ourselves with thoughts of where we would have done better or how we would have improved or at least not sucked as much as we did.
Paradoxically, feeling guilty about your parenting style might indicate you’re a good parent—open to questioning yourself, your decisions, and looking for ways to improve. While parental guilt can motivate us to improve, it can also incapacitate, locking us in a continuous web of regrets and indecision.
4. Sacrificing personal time.
Parents are also familiar with sacrificing their personal time for their kids. We gladly give up time we meant to be spending unwinding or catching up with our own friends for our children. Even after a long day at work, we somehow dredge up the energy to help our kids with homework, prepare dinner, listen to them chatting about their day, and stay involved in our children’s lives, instead of simply collapsing in bed like we so desperately want to.
5. Giving up our expectations.
We parents all harbor certain expectations about our kids. Some expect theirs to excel academically, while others prefer their kids to come first in sports. Unfortunately, our expectations may not be in line with what our kids want for themselves. They have their own ideas about their lives, and this might clash significantly with ours. So, we learn to compromise or give up our expectations, if it means that our children will be happy and fulfilled.
6. Learning and re-learning as our kids grow.
Talk to any parent, and if they’re being honest, they’ll tell you that parenting is a humbling experience. Before having kids, you assume you know a lot, only for them to come along and show you just how wrong you are. When they get to their teens, they might even be more vocal about letting you know you’re wrong.
Swallowing your pride might suck and admitting that you don’t know everything might bruise your ego, but that’s the only way to ensure you remain open to learning and re-learning as you raise your kids.
Jumping through hoops is part of parenting. The trick is knowing which ones improve your life and which ones only waste your time and drain your energy.
Reneau, A. (n.d). Balance Is A Myth — Juggling is Reality. Retrieved from https://www.scarymommy.com/balance-myth-juggling-reality/
At-Risk Behaviors In Troubled Teen Boys. Liahona Treatment Center. Retrieved from https://www.liahonaacademy.com/%E2%80%8Bat-risk-behaviors-in-troubled-teen-boys.html