Feeling Good Enough As A Parent

From the moment of conception, or even before, parenthood can evoke very powerful desires in us to provide everything that our baby needs and to do everything we possibly can to make them happy. Most of us will have an ideal that we carry around inside ourselves of how we want things to be for our baby, and how we want our relationship with them to be.

What we want to give our babies will often be determined by past experiences. Often we want to give our children the good things that we received ourselves. We might also want to give them what we didnít receive, with the wish that our children have a better experience than we ourselves had.

There is nothing wrong with having ideals, but things are always as we hope them to be.

Pregnancy can be filled with excitement and anticipation, but it can also be difficult, uncomfortable and exhausting. Some women feel guilty for not enjoying their pregnancy the way they feel they should.

Having a baby turns your life upside down completely. There are many positive aspects to this. It can be wonderful to be totally absorbed by the tiny, small being in your arms, to spend hours gazing curiously, admiring, getting to know them.

However babies place intense and ruthless demands on their parents that can be exhausting and overwhelming at times. It is possible to feel like a slave to your babyís relentless demands. It can feel as though your baby has taken everything you have to give Ė and yet still wants more.

It is natural to have mixed feelings about this. You may not always react the way you would like. You may feel negatively about your baby as well as positively.

This can lead to a sense of failure, that you are not living up to your own expectations of yourself or that you are not getting it right as a parent. If these feelings continue they might trigger anxiety or depression.

Sometimes it can seem as though everyone else is managing and you are the only one who isnít. Everyone elseís baby seems to be sleeping through the night, is feeding regularly, will happily go down in their cot, sits happily in a bouncy chair looking contented and radiant. Everyone else seems to manage to have a shower, complete practical tasks and enjoy parenthood.

It can be difficult in these moments, to talk about feeling vulnerable, or if you are a mother, to talk about the huge hormonal changes that race in and out like the tide. Or the feelings of loss for your old life; simple freedoms you used to take for granted such as being able to pick up a book and get lost in it, or being able to finish a cup of tea or a conversation, or being able to pop to the shops.

Yet most parents experience these feelings at some point. It doesnít mean that you are not coping or managing.

Managing this vast array of feelings is a challenge. However it might be important to remember that your baby is feeling helpless and vulnerable too. If you can be in touch with your own vulnerability, then you are better placed to empathise with them and understand what they might need.

Parents can feel overwhelmed by guilt when they feel less than positively towards their babies.

When they are crying and crying without stopping, or have dragged you from your sleep yet again, it is common to wish you could get rid of them at times. It is important to recognise that feelings are different to actions. Thinking about getting rid of your baby is not the same as doing it. It doesnít mean that you donít love your baby.

It is also important to trust that your relationship can survive these feelings and that they are as much a part of the bond between you as the moments of bliss and happiness. The process of bonding in any relationship involves not only enjoying the good things together, but facing the difficult experiences and finding ways to survive them together.

It can be very helpful to acknowledge and express these feelings to someone who will understand.

If you are feeling like this consistently it could be a sign that you are over-tired or over-whelmed and could do with a break

Parenting is a stressful and demanding job and your needs are important too