“The Perfect Childhood”
No child has a perfect childhood, and it is not only because there are no perfect parents. (It is simply an accepted fact that all parents, being human, make mistakes). Whilst you, as the parent have a huge impact on the quality of your child’s childhood, his or her childhood will be affected by a multitude of factors that you cannot control. Ill health, accidents, bereavements, poverty and so on.
Ordinary relationships with our relatives and friends usually involve some angst, and our own temperament/personality mixed with our life experience, can cause us emotional pain.
The following excerpt from a book about ‘inadequate’ parents, gives us ‘food for thought’…
According to Susan Forward, PhD., (“Toxic Parents” 2002 -still in print!), parents have an obligation to provide the following for their children as the “foundation of adequate parenting”:
– They must provide for their children’s physical needs
– They must protect their children from physical harm
– They must provide for their children’s needs for love, attention and affection
– They must protect their children from emotional harm
– They must provide ethical and moral guidelines for their children
Her terminology (“they must”) is rather strong and I would like to add… “at least attempt to”, after the words “they must”. E.g.’ They must at least attempt to provide for their children’s physical needs’.
If you as a parent, are attempting to, but are struggling to meet these obligations, perhaps you could seek professional help, for your sake and your children’s sake. You can start by talking to your GP or MCH Nurse or even Nurse-on-Call, and find out whatever help you need. For example, if your child has a weight problem, a Dietician may be of assistance, or if you find it difficult to control your temper, a Psychologist can often do wonders.
It isn’t and shouldn’t be however, your total responsibility alone to provide your child with a perfect childhood, because that is simply unattainable. A ‘good’ or even ‘good enough’ childhood is perhaps what you should aim for.
Try surrounding yourself with other adults who care about your child’s wellbeing to a high degree so that the total effect is a ‘good’ or ‘good enough’ childhood. Choosing a good Doctor, Child Care Centre, Kindergarten, School, religious community and so on, all backing you up, is likely to increase the chance of a positive outcome.
Maybe, just maybe, your child will actually have what he or she regards as a ‘really good’ childhood! I was very fortunate. Although my parents weren’t totally perfect, I had what I feel was a ‘really good’ childhood.
So, as an adult from a happy childhood, how did that affect my parenting?
Parenting for me still involved seeking help from family, friends and professionals along the way and I would like to think that my daughter’s childhood was ‘good’ or at least ‘good enough’ as a result. Even if you had great role models in your parents, parenting is a massive job and trying to be a ‘super-parent’, doing it alone, probably isn’t the best idea.
One more important thing. Parenting and feeling guilty seem to go hand-in-hand, so please be gentle with yourself.