Problems with parenting14/05/11


A woman I know who has three grown up kids and a grandchild once said to me, Everyone is so excited and happy when a first pregnancy is announced, but I just want to say, ‘Shame, you poor thing, you don’t know what you’re in for’, but of-course I don’t say that, I just say, ‘congratulations’ and I pretend to be delighted as well.

It is sometimes called The Best Kept Secret that babies and children, in addition to being a blessing and a miracle, can also be challenging, and being a parent is not always easy. Under certain circumstances it can be grueling and it can drive parents to the depths of despair.

Part of the problem with parenting is that it isn’t always easy to own up to the negative feelings about parenthood. A Cape Town couple, Lisa Lazarus and Greg Fried, co-wrote The Book of Jacob which, unlike most other books about babies, is an honest, frank description of the hell they experienced during the first year of their son’s life. Some people have loved this book and it has helped them enormously, but the authors have also received hate mail from outraged readers who couldn’t bear the fact that these brave parents owned up to how hard it can be having a baby.

As a parent it can be psychologically difficult to hold in your mind contradictory feelings of intense love with opposing feelings of rage, frustration, disappointment and resentment towards your children. Kids (and especially babies and very young children) can be extremely confusing and difficult and in the words of the pioneering child psychoanalyst, Donald Winnicott, they can also be highly inconvenient. The beautiful love affair that you have with your child is often tarnished by the inevitable problems that go hand in hand with parenting.

Parenthood involves losses and sacrifices that can be like a sledgehammer to your mental health.


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