Has anyone ever made you feel like the worst parent in the world? A cutting remark from a stranger as you desperately try to placate your toddler who is having a meltdown in a restaurant? Tutting as you finally cave in and pass them your phone to play with or open the packet of sweets? Judgemental looks in the playground, criticism of your parenting choices on Facebook, stereotyping of single mothers by the media every day, the negativity and guilt can seep into every corner of our lives.
Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world and yet sometimes, those who should be standing shoulder to shoulder with us are those who want to knock us down further. And sometimes we are guilty of it too.
Helping can be very simple, can we make a conscious effort to show another parent some kindness? In the chaos that a busy family life brings, find time to stop and tell another parent how wonderful their children are and what an amazing job they are doing against all the odds. Discover something remarkable in what they may regard as everyday parenting and tell them how inspiring they are to you. Ask them how they plait their daughter’s hair so neatly, how they manage to get their kids to like brocoli, how they have created such a calm bedtime routine!
Offer a struggling parent a helping hand and a friendly ear, let them offload over a cup of coffee or invite their children over for a playdate so they can recharge with some precious time to themselves. Hold the buggy that keeps tipping over for the harassed Mum in the supermarket queue, and let her go ahead of you. Consciously find time for that act of kindness. High five other parents for their everyday achievements and dish out the gold stars because there is no appraisal or pay rise on the horizon!
And when it comes to acts of kindness that includes you too. Cut yourself a little slack. Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes. Forgiving yourself and finding the resilience to carry on will show your children that it is possible for them too. You can see our article on resilience here.
At Fegans one of the points that we get across on our parenting support programmes is that in order for us to be the best possible parents that we can we have to look at our own issues first. If you are struggling to cope, make that doctors’ appointment, look for counselling or a support group, rediscover a hobby and take some time out for yourself, find out how here.
This doesn’t make us look weak. In fact by modelling this to our children we can already sow the seed of thought that it is OK to ask for help and talk about problems. It helps them to see that we are human and shows them how to be kind to themselves.