Each day I make sure I have a heaped spoonful of guilt with my coffee.

As a parent it all starts when the baby is conceived. Did you eat the right food? Drink alcohol? Lie on your back? Take your vitamins? Exercise? Tisk tisk. Hello guilt!

Then the bub is born and the heaping rate increases: breastfeeding, bottle feeding, controlled crying, solids, crawling, talking walking, discipline, activities, socialising, reading books, taking walks, patting animals, tantrums, toys, parties and television. No wonder the modern parent walks with a stoop! Too much pressure, guilt and expectations straining the back muscles. Plus we have to work our butts off to pay for all this!

All this stuff makes us very nervous parents. We get advice from grandparents, strangers in supermarkets (“Oh she must be tired”), well-meaning health professionals, peers, childless friends and teachers. And guess what? They don’t always match up! It would do a parent good to sit in a dark room with a head torch and write out what kind of parent they want to be and decide just to do that. Blinkers on, eyes straight, off you go!

Guilt comes from the fear of making mistakes or the mistakes themselves. It comes from dirty looks from others and unsupportive comments from well-meaning family. The bottom line is that as parents, we have the right to make mistakes with our kids. It must be OUR mistakes. And as long as we’re not abusing our kids or doing something illegal, all the rest of society must wait until we ask for help or advice, not shove it down our throats, heaping on more and more guilt and stripping away our confidence.

I have spoken to so many mothers lately who are struggling with unsupportive people around them. These are close friends/family who mean well, who want to help but are making things much worse for the poor mumma. They have forgotten what it means to be in demand 24/7, to be responsible for a growing life, all while trying to maintain one’s sanity and self-esteem. It is a tough gig and the pay is terrible!

Parents carry enough guilt around on their own. We don’t need to be told we’re no perfect parents cos we pretty much know that already. We will thrive, however, with little notes or words of encouragement. Then, watch us become better parents and watch us come to you for advice when we need it!

Rant over for another day!

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