Myths of Parenthood: Shouldn't I Be Happier?
Updated: Jun 3
Parenthood is often seen and told to us that it should be a source of joy and fulfillment. Adults with grown children who left the nest long, long ago can give unsolicited advice to young parents about happy they remember feeing. They might be forgetting that parenthood is a not always wanted (50% of pregnancies are unplanned) and how easy it is to forget the sleepless, exhausted and overwhelming moments parents face at every stage. Parenthood isn’t for everyone and we should support those who don't want to embark on this lifelong commitment. When parenthood is planned and desired it’s still ok to honor all the feelings and challenge misconceptions and myths of what it “should” feel like.
The Happiness Myth of Parenthood The happiness myth of parenthood is the belief that having children will bring a sense of joy and fulfillment to a person's life. This myth is perpetuated by society and media, which often portrays parenting as a source of endless joy and happiness. The Reality of Parenthood While it's true that parenthood can bring joy and fulfillment, it's also important to acknowledge the challenges that come with parenting. Parenthood can be meaningful, wonderful, stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming. The expectation that it should always be happy can lead to feelings of frustration, guilt, and inadequacy. Many parents also struggle with the loss of personal time and interests, as well as changes in relationships and social dynamics. For the majority of couples, marital satisfaction declines after parenthood, and more rapidly for women who tend to take on the majority of the visible and invisible labor. Even celebrities struggle with parenthood! If celebrity moms are challenged with parenthood, with all the financial and physical resources they have, then it is completely normal and expected that parenthood is nuanced and involves multiple emotions and states of being.
5 Ways Therapy Can Help: 1. Validate Your Feelings
Your therapist can help you recognize that your feelings of frustration, guilt, anger and inadequacy are valid and normal experiences for parents. Your therapist can work with you to understand and increase your ability to navigate your feelings, beliefs and somatic sensations. 2. Develop Coping Strategies
Your therapist can help you develop coping strategies to manage your feelings and reduce stress. These might include time management skills, setting realistic expectations, fairer balance and responsibilities in relationships, self-care practices, asking for support and setting boundaries. 3. Address Relationship Issues
If you're struggling with relationship issues, your therapist can help you address these challenges and develop communication and conflict resolution skills. 4. Improve Self-Worth
Your therapist can help you improve your self-worth and recognize that your value as a person is not solely dependent on your role as a parent. 5. Challenge the Happiness Myth
Your therapist can help you challenge the happiness myth of parenthood and develop a new perspective on the challenges and joys of parenting. Being “good enough” is what children and teens really need from parents and the concept can be further explored with a therapist. Working toward just “good enough”, not excellent or perfect parenthood can allow for the full, meaningful and more realistic perspective of parenthood.
Final Thoughts The happiness myth of parenthood is a pervasive belief that can lead to feelings of guilt and inadequacy for parents. It's important to acknowledge the challenges that come with parenting and seek support when needed. Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space to explore your feelings and experiences, develop coping strategies, address relationship issues, improve self-worth, and challenge the happiness myth of parenthood.
Lowther Counseling Services, www.LowtherCS.com, 2023