Do You Feel Regret Because You Don’t Enjoy Parenting? – Vol. 370, July 14, 2016
A few days ago I was listening to a podcast where this very question was being answered. I thought it would be a great subject to write on given both my own considerations for deciding not to become a parent many years ago, while working with many parents who have kids with challenging issues as a hypnotist.
During the years that I could have become a mother, I was not in any mental or emotional place to have a child. I had spent so many years being ill with bipolar illness and asthma, that I felt I had lost the years that my peers had to reach a more fulfilling place for themselves, while creating more mature relationships with their partners before having their children. I was concerned that my child would inherit the mental health issues that run in my family. I also didn’t feel that I could be the selfless person I would have to become to do right by my child. My ex also was in no way ready or even interested in having a child. My ex thanked me for never forcing him to have a child he never wanted, even with his mother pressuring me to have a baby at one point. The only reason to have a child is because you are ready and desiring to have one, never to fulfill someone else’s desire.
Now, the one thing that I want you to understand more then anything else, is that you are not alone. Most parents who feel resentful after having kids don’t feel they can speak about it for fear of judgment. Many continue on with a pasted smile, never allowing another person to know how they truly feel. It is great that there are places online now for people who share this feeling, can do so anonymously while receiving the support that they deserve to figure out how to move forward in a more positive manner.
That podcast that I listened to spoke of two mothers who both had to go through fertility treatments, one for two years and the other for thirteen years, both desperately wanting kids. And, maybe that is the first indicator that the fantasy of having a child was much more positive then the daily grind involved.
Both of these mothers love their children for who they are, so lets be clear about that fact. Both these mothers wrote letters to the podcast host about their regret in having these children. They both mentioned the tedium of the work involved daily, the lack of privacy, lack of freedom and the lack of sleep. They felt as if they didn’t have a life any longer due to all the needs that their children have. Adding to their stress was the whining, crying and demands that their children had, making life difficult.
On top of these issues, for many the lack of intellectual stimulation being with the child all day long was another huge problem. Boredom sets in and that can lead to depression.
As I was researching this topic, I found many articles where mothers were bored by the conversations they had with other mothers who could only speak about their kids, as if there was no interest beyond that for them.
I found one woman who spoke to the notion that parents live their lives through their kids, posturing about how great their kids are doing in school, sports, jobs, when it is more important to understand that your kid is an individual separate from the parents, as a unique individual.
Friendships can be lost once one is a parent, not knowing how to maintain the friendships. I was lucky in that my best friend wanted me involved in his life and the life of his kids as they grew up. His son as my Godson brought me much fun and love through the years. So, do yourself a favor and keep those friends that you have, because they may be there to help with the kid when you want to go out for a night on the town, or be a role model for your kid. If that person is involved in their lives, maybe they will become friends later on when they are adults as I had occur with my Godson.
Over protection is another issue that many parents get sick of hearing about from other moms. For a child to be able to navigate their world they are going to have to be allowed to do things outside of your immediate sight. Endless worrying about kidnapping and other forms of lack of safety is going to hinder your child’s ability to navigate their world, while making you crazy. It is your job to help your child learn how to be safe out in the greater world by using your common sense and teaching them this important skill set.
When couples become parents when they are very young there is the issue of not knowing who they are individually as well as a couple. Once strapped down with kids, it is imperative to give yourself the chance to figure out what it is that you want your life to be. Go for the goals that matter to you. It is also important to share the same vision with your partner. This will fortify the relationship as well as bring security to your child.
Yes, there are going to be many times when you are less then stellar in your communication with your kid, however, kids are resilient and will love you anyway. That isn’t a pass on being a jerk toward your kid. Emotional damage can happen with a more sensitive kid. However, you will most likely be forgiven along the way. This is especially true if you are honest with your child about why you erupted and taking responsibility for it. Because in the end, it is your own actions that are going to be repeated by your child, not your words most likely.
It’s important to have boundaries with your children. The biggest problem that I see in my clients’ lives is that their parents are either too over protective or allow their kids to run their lives. It is up to you as a parent to decide what is appropriate behavior and demonstrate it. If you tell your child “no” make sure that there is a good reason and share that with your child and stand by that decision. Children need to have boundaries and they need to have structure to feel safe in their worlds. Give them a definite bedtime, a time to do homework and a time to play. Make sure they are out in the world doing things and not wasting their time on video games, Facebook, etc. I have found that the majority of the kids that I have worked with have had issues of being addicted to their technology, bullied by someone on Facebook or overwhelmed by the content on it – teens with the sexualizing of females by males for example. Let then know that it is okay to pull down their pages on Facebook, un-friend people who are abusive.
So, yes being a parent is a very challenging job. And, though you may resent having become one, it’s time for you to step into the role you have brought on yourself with as much dignity as you can. As one woman said, “….by reminding myself that nothing changed in the rest of the world when I gave birth; I was the one who changed. Change means acceptance, not demanding that the world now accommodates you; that’s entitlement and nobody likes that. The best advise I can give is to develop your sense of self and be honest to yourself about the whole process.”
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