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This post came about after someone searched the blog for “why am I such a horrible mom”. I felt an immediate sense of compassion. Surely there are many of us who think “I can’t cope with my children” and we feel like a bad mother every now and then
I’d like to say this to you, unknown fellow mother, if you’re reading this:
To those parents who feel that you cannot cope with your children,
It is a common and a very distressing feeling to feel like a bad mother. I’d say, everyone feels like this at some point or another, and some more often than others. Sometimes we’re bad moms and sometimes we’re not. It’s common to feel as if you can’t cope with your children.
Maybe you’ve done something really bad to your child, like hit them or screamed with malice. In that case, you’re understandably ashamed. That’s right, shame is a feeling that should stop us from doing something stupid again. Unfortunately, shame can be a rather crippling feeling.
The amount of energy and mental resources we have, varies between different people, and varies for the same person during different times of their life. Therefore, how we cope, also varies a lot. When we can’t cope, then often the anger and the patience disappears, and we do nasty, stupid things, even to those we know we must not harm.
When you can’t cope with your kids – ask for help!
If the fact is, you don’t have enough resources to take care of your children in a loving way, seek help! If the children have another parent, talk to them and ask for relief if they can manage. Are you taking parental leave? Make sure you get sick leave so that someone else can take over your parental allowance and help you take care of your child.
Are you single? Is there anyone close to you who can help out? Be brave. Talk to that person. If there isn’t, talk to your pediatrician, nurse, or the staff at your child’s preschool or school.
If it’s urgent and you feel you can’t trust yourself overnight, seek help at the pediatric emergency room. Tell them to take care of the baby for you. While you sleep there, the nurses take care of the baby, and the next day, the hospital counselor will help you get more help so you can eventually move back home.
If you feel up to it, call the Child Protection Services and ask for help. Their task is to help families who do not have sufficient resources to take good care of their children.
Bad mom or just tired and grumpy?
Maybe it’s not that you’ve hurt your child. Maybe you feel bad even if the worst thing you’ve done to your child is that you can’t be bothered playing with them so often. Or that sometimes you yell at them when they bite you. If this is the case, and you didn’t hit your child nor inflict physical pain; or didn’t say mean things to your child (for example, “You’re so ugly, you’re the worst thing that’s happened to me in my life, brat!”), but just angry things (for example “Stop! I can’t stand you screaming all night! Can’t you give me a break so I can sleep!“), then you don’t have to be ashamed.
You’re a good enough parent. But you must not be feeling so good yourself if you think you’re a bad mother. Is there anyone you can talk to about this? About how you are and how you think and feel? Your partner? A friend? A counselor? Your pediatrician or pediatric nurse? Your own parents?
Depression is very common in parents. Sure it’s common in people in general, but even more so in parents, especially with young children. A sign of depression is to feel more horrible than you really are. Depression is a treatable disease, which needs to be detected and treated as soon as possible.
Therefore, it is important to take feelings that come with ‘you are a bad mother and cannot cope with your children’ seriously.
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