The world is full of parents.
Some have one child; some have multiple children.
There are single parent households, two parent households (regardless of gender make up), grandparents filling in for biological parents, foster parents, you name it.
Because of this diversity, there should never be comparison or judgement in parenting. But it still happens.
I was talking with a client that has only one child and the client expressed embarrassment that they were even seeking parent coaching.
“How can you complain if you only have one child,” the client asked?
Looking my client squarely in the eye, I said, “You can have 2 children or 20 children. The title remains the same, mother, father, mom, dad, parent. Period. There are no discounts in parenting for having less children.”
In fact, you don’t get cut any slack for having multiple children either. The age-old myth that the kids will keep each other company or the oldest will take care of the youngest isn't always true.
Co-parenting arrangements, joint-custody agreements. No one is getting a better deal than anyone else.
The sad part is this person was made to feel their journey in parenting was somehow easier because they have only one child.
Now, if someone knew this person, and knew the struggles they had with their one child or knew the stress this person experienced in trying to find support and solutions for this one child, they would gather up their opinions and judgements and take a hike.
Anyone that knows me knows that I have one son. I get that look too sometimes and the eyeroll that follows when I state that I have “only one.” But, if you really know me, you know that my one child can often feel like three. It’s just a reality of parenting.
It’s great if you have one child and they are easy-going, self-starting, and a genuinely good person. I know parents that have these kids, and guess what? Those parents can always share an issue with me as well.
Conversely, I know parents that have three to five kids, and they are all over the place! Some of those parents are happy as clams and some are stressed to the max!
None of these scenarios are correct or ideal, and that’s okay.
Your journey in parenting will look and feel very different from everyone else’s and that’s the way it should be. However, evaluating, downplaying, or dismissing someone else’s experience based on your own, or what you think is happening for anyone else, is wrong.
And the stories we tell ourselves and scrutiny we put ourselves under.
“Why is this so hard?
“What am I doing wrong?”
“Why is everyone else getting it right and I’m not?”
We make the process of parenting more difficult for ourselves by making it our own personal downfall.
Comparing ourselves to others or passing judgments on their journeys with no personal knowledge of their actual experience does us no good either.
This even happens with older generations looking at the parents of today.
Some grandparents, as well as older friends and colleagues are quick to “tsk, tsk” the parenting styles, challenges, and parent woes of today. Sure, some of it can be general complaining (like they never complained), but it should never be ignored or disregarded.
Parenting is different today than it was 50, 20, even 10 years ago. Technology, industry, education, social media, and advancements in science are constantly changing, making the parenting theories and approaches of the past almost obsolete.
You can’t parent today the way they did then, and a parent should not be held to an outdated standard and made to feel incompetent, undisciplined, or lazy because it's not what they did.
There are simply no “free” passes in parenting.
Some parents are having the time of their lives, and sadly, some are waiting until 18 years have passed to exhale.
As they say, “It is what it is.”
In the meantime, here are a few ways we can support everyone in the community we call parenthood.
Remember, there’s value in every parenting experience and there’s no best or easy scenario.
Share your experience with parents that are having challenges; your ear or shoulder could make all the difference for someone that needs support.
Offer help, information, or relief when you can for someone struggling in their parenting journey. Sometimes a recommendation or even a brief break can make a difference.
Don’t compare or judge; you never know what side of that comparison or judgement a person within earshot falls on. Don’t plant a negative seed where you don’t have to.
Personally, be proud of the job you are doing as a parent, there is no manual.
If you find yourself in need of support, parent coaching provides a safe space for you to share your challenges and focus on being your best self to meet the demands.
Book a session with me to explore how we can work together to get you back to being Better4U and Better4All!
Other resources that may be helpful include:
Parents Helping Parents 24/7 Stress Line 1-800-632-8188
Let’s all be a little more mindful, supportive, and appreciative of the job parents are doing to raise good kids today, whether they have one or one hundred. It all counts.
Take care and be well,
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