I was recently interview for this important piece about the most damaging myths of motherhood. Here’s a bit of what I had to say:
Myth: As a mom, you need to fix it.
“There is one highly pervasive myth about motherhood that most of us aren’t even aware of, yet it dictates and influences virtually every decision that we mothers make—and leaves us feeling full of shame and doubt,” said Carla Naumburg, Ph.D, a parent coach and author of several books on parenting, including the forthcoming How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids (Workman, 2019).
The myth, she said, is that motherhood must be easy and enjoyable, and our kids must be happy and doing well—and if that’s not the case, then mom must fix the problem.
That is, if your child is bored, you must entertain them. If your child is sad, you must instantly cheer them up. If your child is throwing a tantrum because you said they can’t play with your phone, you must make them feel better.
We’re one of the first generations to be regularly inundated with research and advice on how to raise our kids. Which inadvertently contributes to the myth that if moms follow the best tips, their kids will be healthy—and if they’re not healthy, then clearly you’ve done something wrong, Naumburg said.
“This is ridiculous and damaging; life and humans are far too complicated and unpredictable for such simplistic if/then statements,” said Naumburg, who pens the Psych Central blog Mindful Parenting. Plus, she said, when we try to “fix,” we communicate that feelings such as sadness, anger, anxiety are bad and not OK. Which, over time, teaches our kids that these uncomfortable emotions are to be avoided—often at all costs. Which also can leave our kids ill-prepared for navigating challenges.
“It isn’t our job as mothers to make sure our children are happy; it’s our job to show up as often as we can for whatever they’re dealing with, and to help them learn how to navigate whatever pops up in life, rather than trying to help them avoid it all together.”
You can read the entire piece by Margarita Tartakovsky over on PsychCentral.com.