There is too much guilt in parenting these days.
True, there are some parents out there who abuse and neglect their children. But they are not usually the same people as those who read the guilt-inducing parenting magazines and blogs.
So here is my very important list of things you are already doing right. Please read it and come back from time to time when you’re feeling guilty to read it again.
1) You are feeding your child. (Yes, this still applies if they eat chips, chocolate, non-organic vegetables, and drink fizzy drinks). You prepare or order meals every day? You are doing it right. (And, you’re still covered if the child doesn’t always eat it. The odd skipped meal is fine.) Children need food, this is very important!
2) You are keeping your child warm and dry. (Not all the time, obviously, sometimes you might get caught in the rain, sometimes they won’t wear their coat, and don’t even get me started about hats. That’s not the point.) Your child has somewhere to live and clothes to wear? You’re doing it right.
3) You give your child a safe place to sleep at night. They have a bed? You’re doing it right. Children love to have a soft, safe place to sleep in.
4) You listen to your child. (Not constantly, you are a person, you have other stuff to do!) You know what their voice sounds like? You have some ideas of stuff they like and don’t like? You’re doing it right.
5) You keep your child clean. You change nappies? You bath the child sometimes? You wash clothes and bedsheets from time to time? You’re doing it right.
6) You play with your child. Any game counts. Any length of time counts. Any frequency counts. If you can recall the last time you tried to have fun with your child (it still counts if they cheated or ended the game with a massive tantrum) you are doing it right.
You may feel that these things are just basic. But the basics really, really matter. If you are doing all these things, then you are a good enough parent. You can relax.
When you next take stock of yourself as a parent, please check these items off first. They really matter and you deserve credit for doing them. Tick off all the items on this list and you are taking good care of your child.
But what about educating, inspiring, encouraging, nurturing, what about attachment parenting and building independence and socialisation? I just want to say one more time, cover the basics and that is good enough.
Yes there are other things you can do. And, yes you can still make mistakes and get some things wrong. Honestly, you probably will make some mistakes sometimes. But if you can keep the basics going then you are doing a lot right.
Whatever else you aim to do with parenting, always remember to tick these things off first. We all need reminding from time to time that we do a lot more right than we do wrong.