Blogs, advice books, celebrities chasing up together in advice for an ideal life, ideal parenthood. On the other side – an ordinary parent who is struggling with everyday life and weaknesses and who want to be ideal. But will he/she have to….at all?

One of the first desires of parents concerning life of their children is their having a better childhood, better life than they themselves. They want to provide their children what they lacked in their childhood and protect their children from experiencing suffering which they met. Parents do not want to make mistakes which were made by their parents. They often do everything to provide their child with ‘wonderful’ childhood. Although it is often an unconscious process, they do it also in order to deal with their deficits, fears, low self-esteem or maybe give their inner child what they have never had. This unconscious motivation often changes into a kind of inner pressure and aiming at being an ‘ideal’ parent for their child, that is, a parent whom they have never had. Keeping up with…

There is also another kind of pressure which parents must face up. This is a kind of pressure which comes from outside and if not recognized quickly, it becomes an inner force making someone think and behave in a particular way. We are overwhelmed by what is essential for a child to be happy and develop in an ideal way. Beginning with particular diets, ways of feeding, carrying or not carrying a child, necessary toys, activities which little children must attend, educational methods and a very long list of other necessary things to fulfill conditions. Authors of blogs are racing with one another with information, advice books, celebrities, users of social portals and all other sources of knowledge. It, certainly, is happening not only at the phase of infancy and early childhood but, in fact, for the whole period of a child’s development, although later it concerns other areas like: education, choice of extra classes, contacts with children or teenagers and many other issues. If mothers and fathers read it, they sometimes listen to parents around and can have an impression that they are not realizing all this or at least part of it and will not fulfill their duty of being a good parent.

Certainly, beside that a good parent feels another burden – he/she must always be happy, must always realize their vocation in parenthood and in professional and personal life. We can see laughing mums and dads from everywhere, from fairy tales-like children’s rooms in which they experience idyllic moments of their parenthood. We are watching just such pictures of family life of social portals. It is easy to give in illusion that all mothers and fathers are doing really well. Whereas these difficult moments of suffering, fear, inner conflicts, sometimes depression remain hidden in a family tragedy invisible for anybody. Parenthood traps

Despite undoubted advantages which are brought by the access to many information sources, there is also a kind of a trap in it. Both mums and dads often face up an image of very idealized parenthood, distanced from real demands and problems which we are facing up when having and bringing up children. In an ideal parent there is no place for tiredness, stress or negative emotions which are connected with being a mum or a dad, which is a very difficult task, after all. In enormity of tiredness they must experience not only their emotions and deal with them, but they must also be the ones who also find a place in themselves for their child’s difficult emotions; the necessity of constant putting off one’s needs, deficits of sleep (particularly when having little kids), stress connected with responsibility for another human being – dependent on us, the quick pace of life which we are experiencing, fear about safety of a growing teenager. All this make parenthood a real challenge and one of difficult tasks which we are facing up in our life. And not for a while but till the moment of children’s becoming independent, which means that we must devote about 25 years of our life for it.

In aiming at being a good parent, there is nothing unsuitable, certainly. Care about offspring is a feature conditioning survival and development of a species. It is something essential and basic for the suitable human development. Without suitable care or parenthood closeness, a little human being will not be able to develop in the right way. There appears some doubt: doesn’t the variety of information discourage others from what is really the most important for a child and the relationship parent – child? Aren’t the appearing relation with a child and created relation of a completely unusual character deprived of necessary spontaneity for the sake of ‘I should do so’, ‘others know better’? Trusting oneself

Donald Winnicott a famous British pediatrician and children’s therapist wrote that a child needs a ‘sufficiently good’ mother for his health and right development. This is surely good information that it is not necessary to be an ideal parent, that a child can develop in the right way, despite our imperfection. Being ‘sufficiently’ good parent, however, is connected with the fact that a mother and a father recognize a child’s needs and react to them adequately to his age and developmental needs. Also it is important for a right relation between a carer and a child, that the first one should recognize his ward’s needs and react to them. But how to recognize these needs if, instead of listening to emotions and needs of a child, listen to what our feelings, intuition experience suggest us, we reach for specialists or pseudo-specialists’ knowledge too quickly? We find an answer which calms us for a while and…..brings another bigger anxiety. We quickly find out what may be wrong with our child, how to react to it. For example, when there appear outbursts of anger, it is a difficult situation, especially if it happens in a public place and one must cope with others’ eye looks or comments. Instead of wondering on what has happened, what may cause such emotions in a child, what is happening at home or in a nursery, or what message a child is sending to us in this way, we prefer to listen to others than ourselves. Why are we so doubtful about our feelings, experience, needs, intuition which is a valuable tip? It would be worth listening to ourselves….

Young mothers often ask this question: how long can one carry a baby, won’t it be harmful for him/her? This question often implies natural – also instinctive and also needed by a child and a mother – desire to be close to each other. But the variety of opinions which parents hear on it, sometimes makes it difficult for them to trust themselves and follow this very needed desire. Recognizing a child in oneself

There a lot of such questions and doubts, not only at the time of infancy. It does not concern not listening to what others have got to say or not looking for professional knowledge so that fear about not fulfilling oneself in the role of a parent, fear about not being an ‘ideal’ parent would not deprive them of the basic trustfulness to themselves in the role of parents. Trustfulness to themselves in the role of a mother/father is needed by a lot of parents. They need to know that they can and are ‘sufficiently good’ parents.

In order to be close to one’s child and his needs, it is necessary to be able to recognize and take care about this child whom we have in ourselves. Taking care about ourselves, our needs, about relations is necessary so that the child would not become ‘our whole world’. A proper process of upbringing makes it possible for a child to cope without us in the future. If a child is ‘the whole world’ of a parent, he/she will not become an independent and mature parent. So, it is worth taking care about not being an ‘ideal’ parent, but ‘sufficiently good’ as Donald Winnicott used to say. It is sufficient.


„Niedziela” 31/2019

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl