05 Jan 5 Common Parenting Taboos
Many of the subjects considered taboo in modern parenting are remarkably common. Perhaps you’re ‘guilty’ of a few?
Preferring one child over the other(s), feeling disappointed in your baby’s gender, or feeling like you’ve made a big mistake by starting a family are some of the most commonly expressed sentiments. However, contrary to your inner turmoil, these feelings are completely normal, says clinical psychologist Laura Alfred.
Preferring one child over another
We’ve all had our moments wondering whether our own parents loved a particular sibling more than us, and for better or worse, they probably did.“It’s common for a parent to feel a closer fit with one child for the simple reason we get on better with some people than others,” says Laura. Even if you feel this with your own children, rest assured it’s normal, but take care not to make it obvious. “Be mindful of all the ways you can mitigate against sibling rivalry – this means never comparing children and valuing each of their different contributions.”
Not enjoying motherhood
If, like me, you bought into the picture-perfect J&J dream, this common taboo will be the one that hurts the most. The key is to lower your expectations, says Laura. “Don’t expect motherhood will be enjoyable all the time – it won’t – and don’t see it as a project to be completed either.” Women who had less than optimal parenting from their own parents are also particularly at risk. “You come to the job with your own vulnerabilities. You might be expecting your child to fill a need in you, but the onus is actually on you to work out what your child needs.” If things feel difficult all the time, seek help from a medical professional.
Feeling disappointed in your child’s gender
You know you should feel happy that your child is healthy, but you just can’t get past the fact they aren’t what you dreamed of. Not a pretty admission, but again, completely normal. Laura recommends acknowledging these feelings and letting yourself wallow briefly before examining where your disappointment stems from. “If you stay focussed on developing a relationship with that child, these ‘attributes’ might become less important as time goes on,” she says.
Don’t like a friend’s child
We’ve all been in the situation where a friendship has suffered the effects of a demonic offspring. It can put strain on a friendship, but there’s nothing to feel guilty over – just as long as you don’t bring up your dislike of the child with any other person (these things have a way of getting back to the parents). “If this occurs, or if the children of good friends don’t get on with your own, social arrangements need to accommodate this,” says Laura. Suggest child-free lunches or visit them in the evening long after the little ones have gone to bed.
Don’t want to breastfeed or have a vaginal birth
You may have noticed that no matter what you do, everyone’s going to have an opinion about it. Stop yourself from going crazy by drowning out all those voices and listening to your own. The fact is, different things work for different people and you’re not obligated to justify your actions to anyone. Is your child happy, healthy and loved? You’re a good mother and nothing else matters.
Words by Dilvin Yasa