Parenthood in the Digital Age
Social media has changed how we see parenting. For some it is an opportunity to connect with other mums and dads, share stories and tips and have a laugh about the ups and downs of parenthood. For others it can be a constant blast of information, negative or upsetting stories, and the feeling that everyone is doing better than you.
You might see a lot of criticism of modern parenting styles and those who hark back to some golden age of childhood when being a good parent was so much easier when children were seen and not heard.
Check out my three questions to ask yourself about your parenting style at the end of this article.
Parenting is never going to be ‘easy’
Here’s the thing – being a good parent has never and will never be easy. Rewarding – yes, enjoyable – yes, but easy – no. Having a happy child doesn’t just happen by magic, it happens by you the parents creating a home for your Little One that is both loving and secure.
You are probably doing a hundred small things every day to give your child what they need both practically and emotionally without even realising it. There is no such person as perfect parent but there are millions of good ones.
Why today’s parents are so good
After 36 years as a health visitor working with thousands of families I can honestly say that this is the best generation of parents I have ever seen. I’ve never known more mums and dads who are putting their children’s needs first and making them the centre of their world. Doing this isn’t spoiling children; it’s helping them to grow into confident and well-balanced members of society.
Previous generations loved their children but often didn’t say it. From Day One babies need to be told and shown how much they are adored with a stream of kind words, fun, hugs and kisses. For many this nurturing begins in pregnancy as mums-and-dads-to-be prepare and adjust their lives to welcome their new baby.
Unconditional love is the greatest gift – if every child had their emotional needs as well as their practical needs met think what a better place the world would be.
More parents work as a team
More and more couples work as a team, and for heterosexual couples there are more hands-on Dad’s than ever before. When both parents are commited to their child’s development and the everyday tasks of running a home, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
Luke Willcock, Dad to 14 month old Lily is committed to playing an active role as a dad and husband to Jillie.
“I wanted be the 21st Century father and husband my family deserved and it’s not the image of a father we grew up with. We do all our childcare between us.”
“My job has pressures, but when you get home you are truly needed, whether it’s rolling on the landing floor pretending to be a bear, picking up the 100th raisin from the carpet you hoovered not only an hour ago, or attempting to find the perfect shade of pink leggings to match that favourite bunny dress.”
“My wife and I are a team; the minimum you can do is make sure you child knows they are loved, they are safe and they can depend on you. It’s the hardest job you will love to do.”
One parent can be just as good as two
Single parents can meet their children’s needs just as well as couples but it is more demanding. As long as at least one carer is completely devoted to a child and gives them love and security there is no reason why they won’t grow to be a confident and caring adult.
My worry for parents doing it on their own is that it can be so tough to meet your own needs. When you don’t have a partner to talk things over with and have to make every decision on your own it can feel overwhelming, and having any time for yourself can seem like an impossible dream.
If you prioritise having some regular time to yourself you will be a calmer more giving parent for it (that goes for all mums actually). Having just 30 minutes to read or take a long bath are simple, free ways to rest your mind and put thoughts of caring, housework, money and work to one side for a little while.
Caring more can also mean greater anxiety
Today’s parents have so much on their plate – balancing work and home life in an economic climate where child care and living costs are soaring. It can be really tough and a big source of anxiety. Let me share a professional secret with you, good parents always worry they aren’t doing enough, that they made a mistake or got something wrong – do you think the small minority of parents who neglect their children do that? I’m sorry to say they don’t.
There is no exam that comes at the end of each of your baby’s milestones. Finding your own parenting style means mixing things up a bit and allowing flexibility into your daily life. Don’t ignore your gut, if it feels right then it usually is.
Have you noticed that with young children nothing stays the same for long? So concentrate on what matters to you and makes your baby and your family happy – be your authentic self, you don’t have to force your family to fit into a prescriptive method of childcare. (That’s quite a big ask I know, I don’t want it to be another stick to beat yourself with. Worry is normal and it only becomes a problem if it is stopping you enjoying daily life with your family).
Parents are some of society’s greatest unsung heroes
Pippa Best a working mum of two who runs Story of Mum a free community to let go of Bad Mummy guilt and boost confidence shared her take on parenting in the Digital Age.
“We try to be there for our kids whenever they need us, while enthusiastically demonstrating that they too can have it all – a happy family, a loving relationship, great friends, an exciting career, big dreams to chase after, precious me-time, enough sleep, and a tidy house.”
“And of course, it’s not actually possible to have all of that at once, so as well as feeling like we’ve probably made all the wrong choices, we’re left feeling guilty and inadequate because of all the stuff we haven’t done. And yet we still get up and try again – because a parents’ love is the ultimate motivator. Parents are some of society’s greatest unsung heroes.”
Three things to ask yourself about your parenting style
You can’t control everything but you can you learn to trust yourself and enjoy your family time.
If you answered yes to every question you are a doing a great job.
If you answered no, I’d like you to ask yourself why that is? Can you make small changes to ensure you and those you love come first?
What do you think?
And one last thing – only someone who wanted to better understand the needs of children, whether or not you agree with me would take the time to read this. So just put those worries aside for a while, savour the moments and enjoy your Little One.
By Sarah and Amy Beeson