Parenting Shame can be immobilising - you are not alone!
By Clare Christie
Does parenting shame immobilise you?
You believe that as a parent you 'should' know what to do, and the idea that you might be hurting your child with your own limitations is hard to face and even harder to share with others.
I've often wondered why parents don't jump at the opportunity when a solution is offered.
I know there are a many obvious reasons such as:
Time - you are under so much pressure to get things done, there is just never enough time!
Trust - what if it doesn't work, what if it's just another pressure on you?
Habit - you know what to change already, but just keep falling back into old patterns.
Money - is it value for money?
But I believe that the biggest thing that keeps you stuck is parental shame. When a solution is offered, it can be viewed as a judgement - "you need to take a course because you're a bad parent". This is not the case and I'm seeing how this can add to guilt and shame. A kind view is that you want to add some skills to increase the odds you'll have a solution when a problem arises.
What might not be obvious about feelings of shame is that we probably all feel this way BECAUSE we love our children so much. Without love, how could we feel grief or shame?
Staying stuck and continuing to hurt yourself with feelings of shame, doubt and lacking confidence doesn't help you to see that you are likely already doing a good enough job, and it can further obscure those little faces looking to you for strength and connection.
I've been rather emotional recently because I'm becoming so aware of the grief and shame you feel, because I FEEL IT TOO.
I wished I'd done better. I knew there were times when I stuffed up, was too busy, ignored my child because I was resentful. There were/are days when I missed the point, hated being a parent and wanted to run away. Days when I really wish I'd known then what I know now, but I didn't. Moments when I'm terrified that I've caused my child's pain, or that he might not reach his potential because of something I did or didn't do. In these moments, the burden of grief can immobilise me.
The realisation that parenting shame exists because I love my son so much lifted the burden a bit. He's half my heart, I grew him from a seed, I felt responsible for every nutrient, word and experience that went into his little body and I wanted it to be good, but there were days when I just couldn't summon the energy to meet those needs as perfectly as I pictured myself, but I know I did it all out of love.
What I'm trying to say is that I know you feel bad sometimes and you will again because you love your children. The parenting shame you feel is shared by every parent who loves their child.
It has become crystal clear to me that the courses I run are 20% about making changes and adding new skills, but 80% about support and normalising the challenges of parenting that all parents experience. Normalising shame and guilt. You are no longer alone in the dark, feeling bad, you are held up and supported and cared for by others who know EXACTLY what you feel.
So next time you feel bad, please know that I am here feeling the same. I'm a mother, I know.
Clare Christie from Harmony At Home is a parenting coach and professional family counsellor with well over a decade of experience helping parents to achieve confidence in parenting and empowering them to make the journey both enjoyable and rewarding. Clare’s success comes from supporting parents to build strong, connected relationships and her understanding that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to parenting offers unique solutions. Clare has presented hundreds of workshops in private, public and corporate arenas and has appeared on the ABC Life Matters programme as a parenting expert.
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