Parenting creates many challenges. And at times, yes, you will feel frustrated and disappointed. I wish I could tell you that it will always be exciting and fun, but then I would be lying… And I am a pretty straight shooter. My goal is to lessen those times of frustration and increase your moments of joy. So I am going to let you in on a secret…
The number one thing that leads to disappointment and frustration as a parent is unrealistic expectations.
This starts from day one with our expectations of how pregnancy will be. If we imagine a pregnancy that is easy and without any hiccups, then the discomforts, morning sickness and challenges feel extra burdensome.
The same is true for many aspects of our first few days to weeks to years of parenting, and beyond.
If we have a friend to whom breastfeeding came easy, whose baby latched from moment one and gained weight like a champ and we expect that to be how it happens for us, we will be more frustrated when the first few weeks are challenging and be more likely to give it up sooner. (Full Disclaimer: The first few weeks are challenging for most moms!)
In addition to having realistic expectations, I should mention that comparing yourself or your baby to your friends’ experiences will likely bring you some frustration. You should certainly share your experiences but always keep in mind that no two babies are the same (not even twins).
If we begin our parenting journey expecting our two-month-old to sleep 10 hours at night, imagine the feeling of frustration when at three months he is still waking every 2-3 hours.
This is not meant to be discouraging – I am a huge optimist and feel strongly that we should find good in almost everything, but we also need to be realistic. If your baby sleeps through the night at two months, that’s awesome and amazing, and you are truly lucky! But remember that is the exception rather than the rule.
After working with thousands of families, I truly believe that unrealistic expectations have led to much more frustration than is necessary. If we expect the first few months to have challenges in feeding and sleeping then when they occur it will be no surprise, and we can tackle those problems with a clearer mind. Also, if we expect challenges, we get to experience the relief and joy when things appear easier than initially expected!
This concept applies to many aspects of parenting (and life), and not just to the newborn stage. I have seen unrealistic expectations affect parents of toddlers who are more challenging, active, or tantrum more than they expected. Even extreme disappointment in parents when they have a second child and their first child begins to act out or seems unhappy with the change.
If our expectations are more realistic, we can begin to focus on the solutions rather than the problems when behavior is not what we want it to be.
If you are having a problem that you would like to discuss, please schedule a call with me. I would love to help you through it.