It’s never enough
I am a mother of a 16-month-old child and already I suffer from serious pangs of guilt. Always feeling like I don’t do enough for her. Why is spending sleepless nights, cleaning up faint-worthy poo, dealing with tantrum, worrying endlessly over a sick child, running around your child all day, not enough. Why?
Before I became a mom, my question to myself was, “Will I be a good mom?” And now that I am a mom, it’s changed to, “Am I a good mom?”
“Am I doing enough?”
Why do I spend nights wetting my pillow over this question? Spend days stressing out, feeling I’m a terrible mom!
Why is it that everything we do for our child not enough in our own eyes? Why am I feeling guilty that I am sitting down and writing this while I could be with my child, who by the way is very happy in the arms of my helper. Oh yes! I feel guilty about that too.
Could guilt make us better parents?
A research team led at Case Western Reserve University found that guilt strengthens social bonds and attachments (Psychological Bulletin, vol.115, No. 2). So, what they are saying is, I need guilt to feel a bond with my child! Really!
My niece blames my sister that she can’t be an accomplished dancer because my sister did not send her to dance lessons at a young age. She is all of 13! So, had my cousin put her in classes earlier, would my niece have become a dancer. The answer we would never know.
We grew up in the times when putting food on the table and sending your kids to school was enough. Do our parents feel guilty about the way they brought us up? Absolutely not! On the contrary, they are proud of their upbringing because they did what they could do best. And the onus was on us to make the best of the opportunities we got.
Child Blames – We Guilt
As a matter of fact, our kids today are growing up in a whole new environment. A world of awareness and endless opportunities. 5 year old kids who can do calculus, 10 years olds solving Rubik’s cube in less than 10 secs, 3 year old child performing aerial acrobats! Have you seen some of those kids in talent shows? Knowingly or unknowingly all of this is putting so much pressure of us.
Of course, growing up, as I watched accomplished sports people and performers, I wished my parents worked harder on me. So I could be that person. I blamed them for my non-accomplishments. But today as a responsible adult and a parent, I couldn’t agree less. If I had the potential and the drive, I could have become that person. And knowing my parents, they would have done everything they could, to encourage and help me get there.
So, today if my niece is genuinely determined and works hard, she can still become an accomplished dancer. And this is the message my sister needs to give her daughter. Perhaps even give her real-life examples of exemplary dancers who started their training at a much later stage in life. So my niece can no longer use this as an excuse and move her butt, literary.
It’s got to stop!
Now I am certainly not saying, we parents should not take our kids for swimming lessons, or help them out on their science project or go with them for their soccer practice. We absolutely need to do spend the right amount of time and effort with our children. As a matter of fact, we should be providing them with tools and encouragement to become better human beings. Yet, we need to strike a balance. We need to know where to draw the line. How much is enough.
Let us not bring up a generation of over-privileged kids who relinquish their responsibilities towards their own destiny. Instead, let us learn from the previous generation who had confidence in their parenthood. We turned out alright, didn’t we?
Now get over yourself and remember you are doing the best you can, for your child. And it is up to them to take what they get and make the best of it too. So, give yourself a pat on the back and pop open the champagne for doing an exemplary job!
As for the kids…… get them to bring you cheese and crackers to go with it.
Neera Gupta, is a published author and runs an event management company. She has lived in more than 10 countries and recently moved to Hong Kong with her husb and, 15 month old daughter and two dogs. She frequently gives talks on art of networking and supports expat communities locally.