Six Core Messages That Make Parenting Feel Impossible

Six Core Messages That Make Parenting Feel Impossible

Posted on November 19 by Olivia Scobie in Non-fiction, Recent Releases
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I’m a tired parent right now. I’m fatigued from trying to figure out what inside activity to do with the kids each weekend. I’m worn out from booking a COVID test every time one of us gets a cold. And I’m burnt out from trying to figure out how to be okay and raise kids that are okay while the world feels so scary and out of control. What makes this even harder is that us parents are trying to navigate this within what I call the culture of impossible parenting.

The culture of impossible parenting works hard to convince parents of six core (and annoying) messages.

 

The more you sacrifice, the more you love. Parents are most likely to be praised when they talk about how much they have given up for their children and often feel guilty if they do anything pleasurable for themselves.

Invest upfront and be rewarded later. Want your kid to be happy/healthy/successful in life? Impossible parenting culture tries to convince us that the outcomes of our children’s lives are the result of their early experience with caregivers, so we can’t make mistakes.

Danger is all around us – stay vigilant. Impossible parenting culture loves to terrify us with all the things that could harm our kids so that we can obsess about their safety – especially when they aren’t with us.

Keep it natural. It’s not enough to try and make all your meals at home, but now they need to be all organic from produce you grew in your own backyard.

Prescribed self-care. Feeling totally burnt out and not okay? Impossible parenting culture subtly suggests (and not too subtly suggests) that it is our own fault because we didn’t take enough bubble baths or go to enough yoga classes.

Make every moment magical. And make sure you create lots of child-focused moments, such as birthday parties, cool crafts, or weekend adventures, and post them on social media.

 

While it can certainly be difficult to resist the messages of impossible parenting culture, I continue to witness parents finding ways to resist it. This can be something as small as being compassionate to yourself when you don’t show up for your kids in the way that you want to. It can be something medium, like dropping off dinner for another parent friend with a note telling them what a great job they are doing. Or can be something big, such as deciding to go back to work earlier than expected because you are feeling intellectually under-stimulated.

I don’t have a quick solution for overcoming the fatigue of pandemic parenting this winter, but I do believe that impossible parenting culture is making something hard a lot harder. My hope is that you can allow yourself grace as we muddle through together.

Olivia Scobie

Posted by Dundurn Guest on September 24, 2019
Olivia Scobie photo

Olivia Scobie

Olivia Scobie is a social work counsellor and educator who specializes in perinatal mood, birth trauma, and parental mental health. She lives in Toronto.