Ever think back to before you had kids and remember the naivety? Watching some poor parent struggling with a toddler throwing a tantrum while thinking “Well, when I have kids…” or “I would never…”.
Almost 45% of parents say they have felt directly shamed for their parenting approach. The things they’re are most often shamed for? Their child’s behaviour, the way they discipline, amount of screen time and being a working parent.
Research shows that social media contributes to parents’ feelings of inadequacy. When you only see the happy snaps and fun activities, not the meltdowns or hard days it can create a ‘pretty’ version of ‘perfect’ parenting. This can cause parents to fear they’re not living up to the (unattainable) standard that’s been set.
On top of this self-judgement, we’re often held responsible for children’s behaviour in the moment. What’s missing when these judgements are made is the context surrounding the behaviour. Maybe the child has a development delay, maybe they’re hungry, tired or have just had a bad day.
Parenthood is a tough gig! We all make choices that are the best we can make in the moment. Research shows that when parents are shown compassion (or show compassion towards themselves) they are less stressed, have a greater sense of well-being and are generally much happier.
Sure, another parent’s choices might not be the right fit for us and that's okay. It’s important to support and embrace everyone's right to do what works for them and their family. More empathy and less judgement can only be a good thing.
References: Cha et al 2020, Mitchell et al 2018; Liss et al 2013