Realistically we know perfection doesn’t exist, but this fact does little to stop many of us from falling prey to feelings of inadequacy when observing someone who we think is more attractive, smarter, craftier or more skilled in an area than we are. There are no awards given out for best mom or dad of the year but it can often feel like there are invisible ribbons given out for whichever parent can throw the best birthday party, bake the best cake, beautifully photograph their babies first moments, run a successful business cook a 4 course dinner, keep the house spotless and look calm doing it all.
Sometimes parents believe these accomplishments might define them as a better parent or make their child happier. In reality most kids benefit most from just your presence, whether that is fully listening when they are trying to engage you or reading a bedtime story. Children are happy to run around the yard not paying attention to the painstakingly crafted decorations you spent hours making, playing with the box vs the presents you spent a fortune on, to eat macaroni and cheese from that famous blue and yellow box rather than the hours you spent making homemade Mac and cheese you found on Pinterest last week. There is nothing wrong with cooking elaborate meals or throwing a huge birthday party for your child if it makes you happy but I would encourage parents to increase their self awareness of what fits for them and their family rather than doing so out of the need to impress neighbors, family or friends, making themselves guilt ridden, anxious and exhausted in the process.
Social Media makes it easier to compare and feel parenting is akin to an Olympic sport, but keep in mind that social media only shows a small snippet of peoples lives in the best light possible. Those smiling faces in that family photo might have been snapped amongst hundreds of the kids fighting or making silly faces at each other. When faced with a parenting challenge or stuck in comparisons, try directing some kindness and compassion towards your self and others because in reality despite the many types of parenting styles or methods out there, the bottom line is, we are just parents who care about our kids.
Lindsay S. D’Ascoli, LCSW
Lindsay is Licensed Clinical Social Worker, practicing at the Light House Retreat and Wellness Center. She uses cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal and creative arts methods in her work to help teens, women and moms manage anxiety, mood instability depression, trauma, family and relationship issues. For an appointment, please call 914-589-7188.