5 'bad parent' myths (and how to avoid them)

“I must be the worst mother in the world!” is an odd (but frequently-heard) statement. Out of billions of parents of billions of kids over thousands of years, you’re suggesting that your child’s forgotten school lunch consigns you to some parenting dungeon? Actually, your bad mom statement may prove the opposite; you’re a good parent, but have been buying into bad mom myths. Here are some examples:

Bad parent scenarios

1.    Your baby falls over and is grazed. You were standing on the other side of the room chopping bananas for his sister’s smoothie. You are not an Olympic hurdler. Your baby isn’t too good at sitting just yet. The graze may be eina to look at but isn’t going to leave a scar or hurt for too long. Conclusion: You care about your kid and you are not a bad mom.

2.    You send your pre-schooler off to day care with a slightly snotty nose so that you can finally leave the house to get food and pay some bills. Later on you get a call telling you to collect your feverish child. Then you dash to the doctor and use your last R300 to get handed some R20 medicine. Conclusion: You have to make judgement calls and if those go pear-shaped it’s not proof that you’re the world’s worst mom.

3.    The day your kid spent at home the school sent home a notice reminding you that it’s his turn to be Bakerman on Friday and “he” needs to bake treats for 25 kids. You don’t see the note, or you just forget and end up having to use your birthday present vouchers to buy expensive cupcakes for the class. Your child cries because he’s stressed that you forgot. Conclusion: Parents are busy. Parents forget things. You would have stayed up late baking had you remembered. You are not a bad parent.

4.    Your teen comes to you at 17:00 on a Sunday to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that a project needs to be done for Monday. You point out that she’s known about it for three weeks and that the shops needed for supplies are closed. You insist she makes do as she needs to learn responsibility and she gets a bad mark. Conclusion: As guilty as this may make you feel, you are not a poor parent for sticking to your guns.

5.    For the past 11 months your child has been begging for a really expensive phone which is out of your budgetary league. You get a different make at half the price and the birthday celebrations all unravel in a haze of sulking, shouting, ingratitude and feelings of inadequacy. Conclusion: You did the best you could. You listened, you acted and you love your child. You’re not a terrible mom.

Not guilty!

There’s an immense amount of responsibility which goes into caring for a child. Other parents appear to have all the answers when you see them in public. When you try your best and still fail to get it right you can feel inadequate. You are not alone. False guilt can gnaw away at you.

There are parents who actively treat kids badly by abusing them or passively neglect them. Assuming that you aren’t like that, but you are just a regular I-want-the-best-for-my-kid parent, you are doing well. The pressure that comes with trying to compare your family with another is that you don’t see what goes on when their front door is shut.

You may not be the best mom or dad in the world, but you are the only parents your child will have; as long as you keep trying your best, you’re definitely not the worst.

Do you ever feel like a bad parent? What causes that feeling?
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24