How to gain confidence as a parent? Is the question so many mummies around the world want help with. In a world where opinions and comparisons are absolutely everywhere, how can you feel more secure in your role as a parent when it feels like everyone else is doing such a great job compared to you?
The reality is that parenting is a really difficult and complex job, and whether you realise it or not, loads of people are faking it; some really well. As cliché as it sounds, children don’t come with a manual. We don’t know how to look after a newborn until we have one, a toddler until they are a toddler, a tween until they are 11 or a teenager until they’re 13.
Children are all different personalities
And then, we need to factor in personality types. What worked really well for one child won’t necessarily work for another. One child might be really chilled out and another one a little fire-cracker; let alone having to consider any additional needs a child may have such as autism or ADHD, life stage of you as a parent, relationship status and financial stability etc. And then, we have the plethora of opinions and advice that flies at us from every angle, be that friends, mums in the playground, family members with ‘good intentions’, social media, books to name but a few.
Here’s the most important thing you need to remember: Nobody knows your child as well as you do and as long as you are not hurting them and you are dedicated to doing the best job that you can, you are doing a great job.
Do you worry about how you can do better?
There are always things we worry about and want to do better. The overwhelming majority of mothers (and fathers) want the absolute best for their children. Working therapeutically with my clients and knowing the harm that can be caused by parental neglect and emotional abuse, I am at the front line for working with mums who so desperately want to get it right for their own children. And I say to you now what I say to them; if you are already worried about your parenting and you are terrified of getting it wrong, you are already doing a great job! If you are worried about how you are treating your children, whether you are doing it ‘right’ and what impact you will have on them as they grow up, you are nailing it! Of course we all get it wrong sometimes… I do too, and I’m an ex-social worker and therapist. We don’t every need to be perfect. We just need to be aware of ourselves and be committed to understanding how we can do things better next time. Always reflecting, always learning and always improving.
That said, here are a few things that will help you to feel better about your role, and gain confidence as a parent, for the days when your confidence is lacking.
Nobody knows your child as you do
You are an expert on your child: No one knows them like you do, can understand them better than you, can read their moods and know their triggers. If a situation has happened or you are faced with something new, take time to process what is happening and how you feel best able to address it. Remember there is no ‘one way’ to do anything and as such, you can only do what feels right to you. Yes, others will have advice and opinions, but they don’t know your set-up and don’t understand all the background information. Trust your instincts and do what feels right to you.
Be careful who you take advice from
It is so easy to feel the need to talk to others and get advice from anyone who is willing to give it, but I say, go with caution here. There are a couple of things to consider. First of all, as above, no one knows your child like you do. Yes of course we want to talk things through with our friends, see if they’ve been in a similar situation or what they would do, but we need to be aware of their own story and what they bring into the mix. This is ultimately about acknowledging their own relationship dynamic with their child (and partner for what its worth), whether or not we can compare ours with theirs. There’s a big difference between talking a situation through in order to come up with a solution that feels right for you and outright asking for advice on what to do next. By all means, have the conversation, but remember to go with your gut instinct at the end of the day.
Don’t ask too many people for an opinion
Every person will give you a different spin. Each response will be different based on their own background and experience. Don’t overwhelm yourself fishing for opinions. Gather what you need and then do what you feel is right.
It’s OK to make mistakes
Yep!! And again…. It’s ok to make mistakes. We don’t get it right all the time. We can’t possibly get it right all the time. No one does. We make decisions based on what we feel is right for our children and often it’s spot on and occasionally it’s not. Like I said at the very top, as long as you are not hurting your child, you are doing just fine. Please note though, depending on the age and ability of your child, let them know when you’ve got it wrong. Acknowledge with them that it didn’t work out as you thought and that you are sorry. Being accountable for our flaws is an incredibly important and valuable lesson for our children to learn from us. That adults sometimes make mistakes and that we say sorry for them. Such excellent modelling for them to go into their adult life with, and a great way to gain confidence as a parent.
Don’t compare to others
You are not them and neither should you want to be. You don’t know their true story. So many people look like they’ve got it so figured out, but the reality is that it is often not the case. I’ve worked with dozens of women and couples and I can assure you that even those that really look like life is easy, have had to work really hard to both get there and maintain it. Concentrate on being the best version of you that you can be, and you will gain confidence as a parent. Read books, gain knowledge if you need to but ultimately, trust yourself to make the best decision. Whether its about co-sleeping, discipline or dealing with an anxious teen, just do what you feel is right for you and them.
Know what you do well
This is a great exercise for everyone to do, no matter their family status. If you are struggling with low confidence or self-esteem, this should really help you.
Write a list of achievements
To help you gain confidence as a parent, write a list of everything you are good at and have achieved. It doesn’t matter whether this is career, education, family or cooking skills. Whatever you consider to be a personal attribute, write it down. Once you have everything written down, take the time to absorb it. That list is your personal statement of life. When you feel you have everything on there, put it somewhere you can look at it every day; your bedroom wall, wardrobe, anywhere you can see on a regular basis how great you are.
Be aware of your own childhood story
Our confidence and self-esteem mostly comes from here and it is so important to understand that. How were you parented as a child? Was it a positive experience, negative or a bit of both? We need to understand that our experience of being parented will likely have a considerable impact on how we raise our own children; whether we do it the same way or try to do it differently, it is the core of everything we are. Because of that, we will approach life in general with confidence and ease or with considerable anxiety. When we understand that we can make changes. If you feel you have issues that you haven’t yet overcome, speak to a professional about it. Blocks to our own confidence and wellbeing will hold you back and prevent you from reaching your full potential. We want to be the best versions of ourselves for our children, not just so that we can do our best at parenting them, but so that we can pass on the skills of confidence and compassion that they need to go forward in life.
In order to pass it on, we have to have it ourselves. How do you treat yourself? Are you kind and compassionate to yourself? Do your best and forgive yourself often.
If you have read this far, know with confidence that you are doing just fine.
Pascale is a Therapeutic Relationship and Life Coach, the founder of the Surviving to Thriving programme and author of How to be Happy in Life and Love: A guide to living the life you Deserve. See more at You Fulfilled
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