It is common to see a parent buried neck-deep in stress owing to career, work and domestic pressures. Although parents love their children deeply and unconditionally, parenting at times can become very taxing. Many parents seem stuck in a never-ending loop of child-care chores and feel on the edge. They tend to forget that there also exists a life beyond the duties of parenting. The ceaseless demands of parenting often create a negative perception about being a parent.
Most couples do not feel comfortable talking about the issues that crop up once they become parents due to the fear of being labelled a ‘bad parent’. However, it is high time that parents spoke about the dark truths of parenting to bring the problems out in the open and find solutions. Here we list some dark truths that most parents acknowledge but do not talk about much.
- Lack of support: With the advent of nuclear families, there is very limited child-care support available to couples. As a result, at least one parent is forced to consider either the work-from-home option or take a career break in order to raise the child. On account of this, a lot of parents regret having a child at the peak of their career as it has brought them face-to-face with career stagnation and missed opportunities.
- The never-ending chores and lack of rest: Regardless of whether one is an early or a late riser, parenting demands that a child be fed, bathed, clothed and taken care of. In fact, it’s an enormously tiring 24×7×365 job. So, when parents hit the sack at night and wake up in the morning to the sound of the blaring alarm, they feel that the night just rushed past them in a jiffy.
- Disparities in parenting beliefs and ideologies: With changing times and unhindered access to a lot of information, it is common for parents to be at loggerheads with each other and with other family members over parenting beliefs and practices. What to feed the child? Whether to go for cloth diapers or disposable diapers? Stay at home and raise the child or look for day-care options? All such issues have been the root cause of contention in many families.
- Marital strain: Once couples have a child, their focus shifts from their relationship to their child, who now occupies the centre stage. Every thought and conversation revolves around raising and taking care of the child. As a result, couples no longer feel connected to each other but still stay together because the child acts as the ‘binding component’. Couples ignore their problems and continue with unresolved relationship issues, which doesn’t make them feel happy.
- Depressive feelings: With the attention of the entire family focussed on the child, no one cares much for the parents. As a result, parents almost never get to hear much in the form of encouraging words or appreciation. The constant need to meet the demands of the children along with the presence of stressors like having a sick relative or financial difficulties fills them with a sense of failure, and increases feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness. At times, parents link these negative feelings directly to becoming a parent.
Parents suffer by simply denying or not acknowledging these dark truths about parenting. However, all these problems can be resolved by accepting and voicing them.
Here are a few pointers to turn parenting into a positive experience:
- Discuss child-care and career choices with your partner. Think outside the box and consider the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’. You are the parent, make the right choice and be assertive about it!
- De-clutter your home, reduce menial tasks and outsource if necessary. It is okay if you are not perfect or if your house looks a bit messy. Make sure you get adequate rest and enough time to pamper yourself, for example, spending a day relaxing at the spa.
- Despite beliefs to the contrary, our parents also faced a lot of problems and made a lot of mistakes. So, don’t be too hard on yourself in case you have failed to meet a certain demand.
- Make sure to have some downtime with your partner. Resolve your marital conflicts and never go to bed with a lingering argument.
- Set up play dates and meet other parents. Go out with your friends occasionally. It is not selfish to have a good time with your friends. You need catharsis!
- Talk to a friend or a counsellor periodically to overcome your negative feelings and experiences.
Remember, you cannot mask your sadness and frustration with a fake smile. You need to be truly happy and at peace with yourself. For, your inner joy is vital to your child’s well being.
The author is a psychologist, public speaker and special needs consultant.
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