A survey shows working parents are riddled with guilt, but they are not alone. Isn’t it time we all took a chill pill?
This probably won’t surprise you, but a new study conducted by OnePoll discovered that working parents are riddled with guilt. Almost half those surveyed believed they were “not good enough parents” during the week because of their work commitments.
I just want to put my hand up here and say…ahem…at-home parents feel just as guilty. In fact, the moment you discover the stork is about to deliver a little bundle of joy, a magic guilt pill is swallowed and the parental guilt trips take hold of your life. Am I eating well enough for my unborn child? Will that boozy night I had before I found out I was pregnant ruin its little brain for life? Do we have enough money in the bank for the kid to go to university? It goes on and on until the baby is born. Then that guilt pill’s magic effect quadruples and all of a sudden you are on the floor of the laundry bawling your eyes out because your milk has dried up, the baby won’t sleep and you can’t get the poo stains out of the onesies which means you have failed as a parent. Or something to that effect.
There is a good reason for the guilt. It is simply that we are totally unprepared for parenting. How many parenting classes did you take in school? Sure, I read the book Where did I come from but I missed the follow-up book “What to do with the kid once it comes from the little egg and sperm dressed as a bride and groom!” Did you miss that one too? You missed it because it doesn’t exist, but maybe it should. Instead we all fumble and bumble our way through colicky babies, two-year-old’s tantrums and teenage angst, constantly questioning if what we are doing is good enough and feeling guilty that it’s not.
I need to take my own advice here, but it just has to stop. This imaginary guilt pill is taking the fun and joy and wonder out of being a parent. Sure, you could always be more organised, more cheerful, more healthy, more available, more on top of every single detail. But that would be boring. I liken it to the saying “a clean house is the sign of a dull woman”. Just insert “perfect childhood” instead of “clean house” and “parent” instead of woman and bingo, that sums up my feelings on the unobtainable standards we set ourselves for being parents.
What I have discovered in the last 18 months of parenthood is that children are like dogs. Loyal and forgiving. It doesn’t matter how much time you do or don’t spend with them, what food you do or don’t feed them, what mood they catch you in, or how you do or don’t discipline them. At the end of the day, they are still there waiting at the door for you. Instead of wagging their little tails eager to lavish you with licks of love, they stand there with open arms ready for cuddles and kisses. All you need to do is scoop them up and deliver the goods.
For what it’s worth this is my tip for dealing with guilt. Ask yourself these two important questions. Are they alive? Are they happy, healthy and secure?
If the answer to both questions is “no”, then fix it. If the answer is “yes”, swap the guilt pill for the chill pill and just enjoy your puppy…I mean child.