February 26, 2015
Categories: Culture, Family, Self

Myths Making Modern Motherhood Miserable

I was seventeen when my eldest daughter was born. This fact, along with the fact that I am now thirty-seven, combined with the fact that my youngest daughter is now seven, in addition to the fact that I was born in 1977 (hello sevens!) all add up to one fairly unique reality:

I’ve raised young children both with and without the internet.

Which means, of course, that my mothering experience has straddled the single most influential shift in human awareness the world has ever seen.

Wow, right? (If anyone wants to pay me to study my brain toward the salvation of the species or anything, we can probably work something out.)

As you might expect, early childhood parenting of my firstborn felt quite different than the experience of raising her sisters. Though my age stands out as the most obvious factor, looking back, it doesn’t feel near as big a determinant as the difference in my access to resources.

Back then, I had approximately four places to turn with my parenting questions:

  1. the library
  2. the pediatrician
  3. the copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting I was given by my pediatrician
  4. my parents

Thing is, the pediatrician knew less about mothering than my own (awesome) mom, my dad, as a family counselor, was a wealth of information, and the library was hard to manage with a wiggling baby, so when it came right down to it, What to Expect When You’re Expecting and MY FOLKS were pretty much it.

That’s right. I raised my firstborn with essentially two sources of information.

Unbelievable as it may seem to today’s search-happy, post-internet parents, this reality felt surprisingly adequate. Despite my circumstances, I felt confident, well-supported, capable and empowered as a mother right from the start, and it sure wasn’t because I knew What to Expect.

My confidence boiled down to this:

  • Loving parents who believed in me.
  • A mother who encouraged me to trust my intuition.
  • The fact that I had virtually no one with whom to compare my mothering experience.

As a single, seventeen-year-old junior in high school, I didn’t question whether or not I was a good mom. I just knew I was.

Fast forward twenty short years (inserting the internet half way through), and few mothers I meet would say the same. Though most are striving, hardly any of us are actually arriving at a level of self-assuredness and satisfaction proportionate to our dedication and investment. In fact, the amount of self-doubt I’ve experienced in my own post-internet parenting has been exponentially more than my pre-internet days, even though I know about a kajillion more things than I did then.

How can this be? How can such a wealth of information be both increasing our understanding AND decreasing our sense of self-worth?

It’s quite simple, really. Our brains aren’t wired for this much intake. We’re suffering from not from actual inadequacy, but from a false sense of ourselves that has reached epidemic proportions.

I call this collective confusion Mythological Motherhood.

A concept I describe at length in Motherwhelmed (my book-in-progress), Mythological Motherhood is the modern phenomenon responsible for the discontent, disillusionment and disconnect plaguing parents of every demographic. It speaks to the enormous gap between what we believe to be possible (based on stories we’re both being told and sold) and the way our current realities look and feel. The greater this gap, the more of these myths a person has likely subscribed to.

The consequence of this mass mythology (presented to us as TRUTH) is an entire generation of mothers who — though more attentive, compassionate, involved, patient, knowledgeable and educated than any other group of mothers since the beginning of time — suffers from so much self-doubt, inadequacy and overwhelm that we barely even benefit from our position of relative privilege.

It’s tragic, but it’s also a trend we’re capable of reversing.

Doing so starts with recognizing the myths being perpetuated, examining their detriment to our lives and digging deeper for our own personal truth beneath them.

As you’re reading, ask yourself where these myths seem to be rooted within our culture, then allow your heart to tell you whether or not they were truly meant for YOU.

17 Modern Myths That Are Making Motherhood Miserable

  1. Empowerment comes through lucrative careers and upward mobility. A truer story: We become empowered when we take full responsibility for our lives, recognize and work through our fears, learn to love ourselves not in spite of but because of our uniqueness and live the lives we know we’re here for. Empowerment and motherhood are only mutually exclusive when we allow others to define success and power for us.
  2. Life as presented in stores and advertising reflects the way life actually is. A truer story: The “reality” presented to us as consumers — that life can or should be perpetually pleasant, tidy, organized, beautiful and blemish-free — is a myth of the most seductive sorts. Because we want our lives to feel less stressful and more abundant, it’s easy to get caught up in retail fairytales, allowing them to increase the size of our gap. We’d be wise, however, to consider the greater implications of allowing any profit-seeker to shape our sense of prioritization, beauty or truth. I find it helpful to keep the word ‘fairytale’ in mind anytime I enter a shopping center or flip through a magazine.
  3. A desire to stay home with your kids signifies a lack of intelligence, motivation, or competency. A truer story: Freedom of choice is still such a new reality for women in our culture that the choice to stay home has been unjustly associated with the very oppression our foremothers fought so hard to escape. It’s essential — for women, children, the integrity of families and the healing of humanity — that we don’t settle for the opposite extreme (stigmatizing stay-home parents) but encourage and support mothers’ intuition, the flourishing of which is a true indicator of freedom.
  4. A desire to work outside the home signifies a lesser degree of love for or attachment to your kids. A truer story: Some women’s intuition leads them to the realization that they need to continue working in order to best care for their children. Stigmatizing mothers who work away from home is just as destructive and divisive as its opposite. Instead, we might choose to focus our attention (as a society, and as individuals) on supporting the parent/child connection, whatever that means for each family. Social shifts such as benefits for part-time employees, (way) longer maternity leave and community building initiatives are a much more empowering place to focus our energy than the “mommy wars” currently weakening our ability to determine and create what we really want.
  5. We can avoid “screwing them up” by doing more of the right things. A truer story: Perfect parenting is an illusion. No matter how hard you try, you are going to impact your children in ways you don’t necessarily want or intend to. Though this has never been any different, mythological motherhood has made perfection or near perfection seem possible. Every human on the planet is here to face, overcome and grow beyond their challenges. It’s not your job to be perfect, nor will striving for this goal necessarily benefit your children. It IS your job to be YOU in the most fully-expressed and supported sense possible. This version of you is what your children need from you most.
  6. Balance is what we’re all seeking. A truer story: Balance is overrated and easy to market. Attempting to hold a balance in your life (for more than a few minutes) is like holding a handstand for any real length of time: it’s not only exhausting, but it requires so much focus that you end up missing out on the richness all around you. I much prefer the concept of centeredness. Once we find our center (which can require some digging through layers of cultural confusion), there’s always the option to return to this powerful place within, no matter the perceived imbalance all around us.
  7. We’re shorting them every time we invest in our own needs, desires and interests. A truer story: It is our #1 responsibility to learn and take care of ourselves. Doing so enables us to mother from a more whole, nurtured and authentic place. Ignoring our own needs leads to resentment and compromises connection with everyone in our lives.
  8. Guilt is the price we must pay for the love we experience. A truer story: Guilt is one of the many prices we pay for unchecked thoughts. The deeper our self-awareness, self-love and self-respect, the less power such draining emotions have over our lives.
  9. We’ll feel joyful about our mothering experience once everything’s lined up and organized. A truer story: We’ll experience more joy in our mothering experience when we let go of the perception that organizing our external environment is the answer to our inner peace. Inner peace requires a deep look into both the light and the shadow aspects of our souls. Healing from a lifetime of pain, limiting beliefs and security-seeking is rarely the easier path, but always the truer path to a joyful existence.
  10. Our children’s questionable choices reflect bad parenting on our part. A truer story: Our children are not really “our children” at all, but people we’re meant to be as affected by as they are affected by us. Their tendencies, personalities, habits and choices, while impacted by our own, compromise their journey toward self-actualization. Supporting their unfolding means seeing them as separate than us, however connected, and not taking their choices personally. When we recognize a negative impact we’ve had, we always have the choice to stay humble, practice self-love and forgiveness, and stay vulnerable to the fact of our imperfect, evolving nature.
  11. There is a right way to parent. A truer story: Among the most destructive of the modern myths, “right way” parenting not only divides us, but deemphasizes and dulls our intuition. The right way for YOU is as unique as the one-of-a-kind connection you share with your child. Though parenting research has come a long way toward helping us understand the needs of children, the thriving of mothers requires a greater emphasis on and respect for our biological instincts and innate wisdom.
  12. We must equip our children with as many resources as possible. A truer story: While providing resources is part of our job, equally important is equipping them with the confidence and understanding that they can draw on their own inner resources. Because we as mothers have become so dependent on external validation (hello internet) for our sense of security, connectedness and confidence, it’s easy to impart the message to our children that all the resources they need exist outside of them. Until we learn to hear and honor the wisdom within, we’re vulnerable to a million different messages that simply aren’t meant for us, and so are they.
  13. More is better. A truer story: More, in many cases, is making us miserable. Between activities, possessions and commitments, we’re being suffocated by the very things we hope will enrich us. At the heart of this phenomenon is a false sense of abundance. We’re biologically wired to want abundance in our lives, but until we define abundance for ourselves, we will continue to accumulate indiscriminately. Ask yourself what you really want more of and measure abundance accordingly. More time to dream, more connection with those you love and more awareness of the present moment often require less of what we’ve been culturally conditioned to accumulate.
  14. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. A truer story: Though more virtually connected than ever, mothers have never been so isolated in the rearing of children. We aren’t meant to raise children alone. The notion of “independence” that so many mothers feel they must maintain is yet another product of a society still working out what freedom actually means. Because oppression is so often associated with dependency, we’ve forgotten our basic human need for interdependency and inadvertently glamorized isolation.
  15. You should be enjoying every moment. A truer story: People who say this to you likely either suffer from a great deal of guilt or selective memories regarding their own parenting experiences. Remember in those moments (when you want to strangle some sappy stranger) that they aren’t meaning to guilt you for not feeling joyful every moment, but attempting to connect with you about the inherent sacredness of the mothering experience. What they’re forgetting is that not all sacred moments are pleasant, and that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong.
  16. Science trumps intuition. A truer story: Science supplements intuition. Though it’s clearly increased our quality of life, science cannot account for the individuality of the human spirit. You, as a mother, are better equipped, biologically, than anyone on the planet to understand and adjust for the uniqueness of your child’s needs.
  17. Your inadequacies are the reason for the frustrations you feel. A truer story: The confusion inherent to our culture, your level of self-love and awareness, the social structures keeping you connected yet separate and the degree to which you buy into these modern myths are the real reasons for the frustrations you feel. The way you choose to react to the gap between the life you have and the life you want dictates the quality of your life.

Though untangling ourselves from these myths takes time (and can be a painful process), the benefits go well beyond increased confidence. Future generations depend on our investment in ourselves.

The Dalai Lama said, “The world will be saved by the western woman.”

I say mothers must lead the movement.

——–

Ready to dig deeper into your own story? Tired of the pull these and other modern myths have on your life? I work with mothers who, no matter how passionate and invested, can’t seem to do enough to ease their conscience. I’d be honored to connect with you toward the co-creation of an empowered mothering experience within a life you love. 

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112 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this! I was feeling all these things and you articulated them very well. I too had my first born in my teens and now my youngest is 5. I am a 78 child though :) Back then, I went on instinct and have been going with that ever since, trying to trust what works for me first and foremost. I also love #10, especially as my eldest is ready to leave home next year. They are not extensions of us. They have their own stories and will choose to write them the way they see fit to write them. After my fifth child, I would have to get over #14. That was a tough myth to shed. I finally feel comfortable asking for help and have built stronger connections by doing so. Again, thank you!

    Reply

    • Thank YOU Rozanne! It’s pretty amazing how much different parenting feels today vs. such a relatively short time ago. Thankfully instinct is inherent to the species and simply requires that we learn (or relearn!) to tune into it!

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      • I would like to add to that that most people do not understand the “practice” of science. Scientific conclusions are not always correct. Many factors (variables) need to be considered including personal experiences, the spirit of the individuals etc. People like black and white because it is easier to follow rules and recommendations than think through things. This is meant to guide us, not dictate how we live and parent. Recommendations change, medications get pulled off the market. For example.. When my teenagers were small the standard was to give kids fluoride tablets if your water was not fluoridated. I often forgot, and felt horrible about it. NOW, with my little ones they say NO fluoride just a small amt of fluoridated toothpaste.I felt guilty about not giving those tablets for no good reason. The kids are probably better off. So much for science. Not to discount everything, but it should be a helpful tool, not a standard to judge ourselves or others.

        Reply

  2. This is wonderful.

    I started motherhood in the age of internet and right from the start, planned on being “the perfect mother”. How could I settle for less? All the resources were there. I’m a smart, privileged woman. I had no excuse. Well, motherhood, if anything, has been very humbling to me. I let go of perfection. I even went and got help! (I really needed it.) This will have taught me to take life (and motherhood) with a grain of salt. I am grateful for that.

    Reply

    • Thank you Julie. Humbling indeed! Though I didn’t see it at the time, I, too, fell into the smart, privileged camp (during my most idealistic days) which created the perfect breading grounds for unmet expectations and disappointment with myself. Mexico humbled me even further by helping me see how incredible a life we actually have and how adequate (if imperfect) my children’s lives are.

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    • I am much like Julie – with all the resources I have, how could I settle for less than near-perfect? I also ended up getting help, and the biggest lesson I learned in that was to both define my *real* expectations of my children instead of having vague giant expectations and to realize that I can’t really control my situation or my children, for that matter. I definitely influence them and can work to help and improve them, but I needed to let go of control. It has helped greatly.

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  3. I was a mother during the “What to Expect While You’re Expecting” and luckily, “What to Expect the 1st Year” (or something like that). Those books were very helpful to me. I was pretty much at a loss by the time my daughter was 2 years old. I think I was lucky the internet wasn’t really full of the options it has today which would have added to my confusion and frustration. The best advice I ever received was from a counselor, when I was parenting my barely adult daughter. She said, “Just make sure she knows that no matter what, you love her. No matter what, she can talk to you. And no matter what, don’t judge her – just love her.” I wish I had that advice when she was a teenager, I think our lives may have been a bit easier. But, by just letting her know that I love her no matter what – we have grown close and are both much more confident in ourselves.

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    • Thank you Kelly. That truly is advice of the wisest sorts. <3

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    • kelly i agree very much with your statement. children need to know they will be love no matter what i have two daughters one in college and one as a junior in highschool both have known that no matter what the subject or questions i will answer them if i dont know the answer i tell them that too both my children realized that not every person has all the answers

      Reply

  4. Wonderful blog post. Best parenting blog I’ve read in a long time. I read Dr. Spock’s book when I had my children and they turned out great!

    Reply

    • Thank you Glenda! It really is amazing to me how little control we have over how they turn out now matter what methodology we subscribe to or book we read!

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  5. I really appreciate this article. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

    Reply

  6. I’ve been saying the same things for a long time now. I’m 41 and I too was a mother on pre-Internet days, although a bit older than you at 20. And have other two Internet-days kids (11 and 10). I am pretty sure that the excess of information and the ability to share experiences instead of helping have caused much more confusion. I will be sharing the post (can I translate it into Portuguese for my non-English-speaking friends?)

    Reply

    • Thank you Fernanda! I would be honored to have you translate my piece! Let me know if you do and I’ll try to promote it, too, with your permission. <3

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  7. Well said chica, well said.

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  8. This is probably the most RIGHT ON article I have EVER read. Truer words were never spoken!

    Reply

    • I don’t even know what to say to that, so I’m going to have to settle for a humble, emphatic THANK YOU with a few hearts and lots of love. <3 <3 <3

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  9. Thank you, you rock!

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  10. Great blog post. Can’t wait to ready your book. I really liked this: “Every human on the planet is here to face, overcome and grow beyond their challenges.” – including our kids! Not everything we do should make life just easier for our kids. Through challenges we all grow and become stronger.
    Thank you!

    Reply

    • I can’t wait to read my book either (meaning I can’t wait to be done WRITING it! ;)) Thank you Denise!

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  11. Considerling

    HELLZ YEAH. And I am struggling with a partner who lives on the computer and internet at work AND home and is constantly posting things about how HE thinks parenting “should be.” We’ve been in a rut of criticism towards each other for so many of the reasons listed above being projected back and forth. I even got to a place where I thought everyone would just be better off without me. My mama-friends helped pull me outta there, yet…the husband-troubles march on. Thank you for a nicer version of reality!!!

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  12. Thank you Beth.:) I live in Hong Kong and am a dance movement practitioner. I was going to bring your exact point home and introduce DMT as a possible let tool for a parenting workshop next month. Hopefully, many parents will be able to understand that invest in self is the best investment.:) Thanks again…

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  13. Beth, this is my first time to your blog and I’m so excited! This post is absolutely “spot-on!” As a mommy of 2 girls and 2 boys, my heart’s desire is to stand against these myths, realizing that motherhood is wonderful for all the simple, yet profound reasons your mentioned. I especially liked #11 and #14. How families would be transformed if more sweet mamas held onto the truth about mothering. Looking forward to reading more!

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  14. Thank you for your profoundly insightful words, Beth. I am reading them at precisely the PERFECT time. I have been rather ruthless with myself as of late. Reminders like these are critical for my over-all wellbeing… as a mother, a wife, a friend, and…well… as a woman. I look forward to reading more from you. Cheers!

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  15. Very nice. While not a mother by choice, I am heartened by you conscious illumination about you experience. You speak truths that will help many. Never saw the Dali quote before. In what context was it said? You mAy also enjoy the truths in the book THE HEART CODE which tackles a grandmother’ s focus on helping her granddaughter hear and heed her own heart voice. The fiction was inspired by the new science of the hearts intelligence. Laura

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  16. I needed to read this today; I just felt the tension in my neck release.

    Thank you from an isolated, guilt-ridden, full time working mom of a 16y, 12y, 5y, 2y, and 3m.

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  17. This is one of the best posts I’ve ever read. I can’t wait to share it with my friends and family. As a mom of the internet age, I’ve struggled with so many of these issues. It has only been as I give up searching out advice (other than from close family & friends), learn to trust my intuition and separate myself from those who believe in the notion of perfect parenthood that I’ve been able to believe in myself as a mommy.

    The internet is useful, but this notion of “perfect mommy” has got to go. We’re all doing a darn enough good job, which should be all that matters.

    Thank you so much.

    Reply

  18. Thank you, this is brilliant! I share your concern and confusion over bringing up children before, during and post the internet revolution. As Mothers it is indeed up to us to manage its impact, take care of ourselves and continue to trust our intuition.
    I will be sharing this with all my clients.

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  19. Wonderfully said! I would add blogs to #2. I have to keep the word “fairytale” in my mind when I go to many, many mothering/parenting blogs. I ask myself if it has to be this way? Why are we doing this to each other as mothers? I feel like most blogs are not fully honest and/or are selling something (often a “right” way of doing something). I really struggle with that.

    I have to say this is my first time on your blog, so I’m not responding to you as a blogger! This article indicates that you may very well be one of those bloggers that is more honest and respectful of the variety of mothering experiences.

    Blessings,

    Reply

  20. Nothing in this article is new. Read some magazines and books from 40 years ago, they day the same things. You were not aware of more books and sources at 17 because tou were 17, not because they werent there. Suddenly being aware of things that are decades old does not make them new….

    Reply

    • I don’t believe that was Bet’h’s point at all. Of course there were resources available, and yes at 17 you may not be aware of all of them. However I think Beth’s point is less about the lack of resources and more about support and confidence in parenting, which is even more important when you are 17. As we grow we learn, as parents and as people. Thanks to Beth for articulating these points so beautifully and succinctly, and reminding me of the importance of love, support and confidence.

      Reply

  21. I wish I had read this when my daughter was first born! I have believed so many of these myths and unfortunately my husband still does believe some. I have put so much pressure on myself and fallen short in my eyes and my husbands that I have definitely been miserable since 2012 when my daughter was born. The myth that sticks out the most is believing that investing in myself is selfish. I always put myself last and my kids first and this has affected my energy levels (emotional and physical) and my marriage. I like the idea of becoming more centered rather than balanced, because to be honest I suck at being balanced! Thanks for this post!

    Reply

    • Hi Beth, great article thanks for the perspective. I have been feeling a lot of the same recently and a couple of your comments I read again as I liked them so much. There is just too much! we need less for more contentment i feel. Thanks again.

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  22. I love what my best friend says: all you need to give your children is enough confidence to ask for help when they need it. The rest is gravy.

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  23. I read somewhere that if you take the time to investigate a style of parenting and then proceed to buy a book on that particular style parenting, it doesn’t matter if you actually read it… You’re statistically more likely to be a better parent. We don’t give ourselves enough credit as parents.

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  24. Thank you Beth for writing this! Love everything you said and feel the same way. We are the same age and I can totally relate not because age though but because it is time for this consciousness to come through. I love design of your blog as well. Wonderful illustration and Header. I started blogging my self about parenting and natural living at greenfamilyraam.com just month ago. I am so happy to find this gem. Love it!

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  25. Great article. You could take it even further. It goes beyond motherhood and deep into all women’s sense of themselves, whether they are mothers or not. You could easily call this article “17 Modern Myths That Are Making Women Miserable”.

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  26. Michelle DeMarie

    Wow this article is amazing. So insightful and well written. I have it bookmarked

    Reply

  27. I always look forward to reading your blog posts. This one is just spot on – amazing and beautiful.

    Thank you for telling the truth!

    You rock indeed!

    Eva

    Reply

  28. I have been contemplating intuition as it pertains to parenting and cooking all week! What a beautiful piece to stumble upon. Such insight. Thank you!! Love from Scotland

    Reply

  29. “Science trumps intuition. A truer story: Science supplements intuition. Though it’s clearly increased our quality of life, science cannot account for the individuality of the human spirit. You, as a mother, are better equipped, biologically, than anyone on the planet to understand and adjust for the uniqueness of your child’s needs.”

    And this is how we ended up having a measles outbreak, and keeping children from having more independence in their lives. Yay.

    Sorry, but science *does* trump intuition. Intuition can be right, but it doesn’t guarantee rightness; sometimes our intuition leads us astray. That’s what we have science for, as an intuition check. It can scary to take our children for injections, especially when we don’t understand why or how they work, but that fear doesn’t mean there’s something actually wrong with having your kids vaccinated. It can be scary to let our kids walk to the park by themselves. Feeling that something is wrong doesn’t make it actually wrong; we’re mums, we’re super cautious, and that’s natural, and sometimes we need an external, non-intuitive force to show us what’s actually a danger and what’s just our intuition causing us to make irrational decisions.

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  30. This fed my soul. I am beating the drum of all 17 points. My longing is we as women get better at reflecting truth to one another in order to buoy eachother in this challenging rOle of motherhood. That said, I had a lot to learn about relating to a child and started working with a parenting coach. The one thing not sold to me but that I sought out to embrace my humanity as a parent, assuage mommy guilt and be deeply supported so I could stay deeply relational with my kids. I love rose’s comment about equipping kids to ask for help…I feel my kids have learned from my mistakes and speak up for themselves. Parenting, mothering is just so humbling isn’t it?

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  31. My wife still complains about the lack of a “user’s manual” when they pushed us out the doors of the hospital in ’91 with our son. 24 years later, our son has been diagnosed as bipolar and with severe anxiety to boot. She still feels somehow responsible for this and is always cropping up in conversation. We are doing the best we can with the situation and he is living with us as he tries to get meds and the anxiety leveled out.

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  32. Thank you for writing this. I’m not a momma yet, but I will be in a few weeks and I can already feel myself being drawn into the delusional ideals of a “perfect” mother. It’s so nice to be brought gently down to earth once in awhile.

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  33. As I sit here with my one month old baby girl asleep on my lap, on the day my almost 3 year old started preschool, and the day I started working from home again, I think that this post could not have come at a better time. I am a perfectionist, ambitious in all areas of my life, and the breadwinner of my family and I feel a constant pull to be excel in all areas of my life, and one can only take so much. Today, I can handle the tears that come with new motherhood and sleep deprivation, but the tears that come with the self-doubt of if I am doing the right thing for my family is another story. I’m lucky to have an amazing partner for this adventure, but holy crap, it’s exhausting.

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  34. Thank you for posting this truthful perspective. I love it!

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  35. This is a great post.. I agree, that too many mothers feel a sense of insecurity and self doubt. My husband and I got lucky and haven’t (yet) fallen into that category – we have always felt like we are doing our best and doing a damn good job of it. But I see moms who I would deem veritable supermoms, and they DON’T EVEN SEE IT. They doubt their ability, their impact, their role. It makes me so sad!

    Anyhoo, I found your blog through a Sustainable Bloggers Link Up site (trying to find more like-minded bloggers to follow and connect with!) and I love your site! It would totally make my day if you stopped by my blog sometime and said hi.. or better yet, keep in touch!! <3 – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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  36. Sent this to all my close mama friends. Felt it deeply. Thank you!

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  37. We are the same age and I totally feel what you’ve said! My oldest is about to turn 16 and I didn’t have even my own parents when she was born. Just my husband and I and the not-so-helpful child rearing book his parent’s gave us with a long lecture about “You’re having kids too young don’t expect us to pick up the pieces”. Its a bumpy ride but the universal fact is that if you love your kids and do your best in 99% of cases they will grow into responsible adults.

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  38. This wise and mindful view can (and should) also be applied to other aspects of our lives, not just mothering. As a single woman with no children, I still found this relevant. We are all inundated with messages of what a good, successful, fulfilling life should look like when the sources of these messages are indeed profit-driven and meant to make us feel inadequate (so we will buy their stuff).

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  39. Beautiful article! Thanks for the reminder it’s so easy to get lost in the myths and propaganda and burry yourself in stress. I just had my 2nd child and while I’ve been blessed with extremely well natured children, the change from one child to two has been rough on me. It’s been all too easy to sink into bad habits of self blame.

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  40. Great article. You are an amazing writer!

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  41. This is the idea that stuck out most to me:

    “Balance is overrated and easy to market. Attempting to hold a balance in your life (for more than a few minutes) is like holding a handstand for any real length of time: it’s not only exhausting, but it requires so much focus that you end up missing out on the richness all around you. I much prefer the concept of centeredness. Once we find our center (which can require some digging through layers of cultural confusion), there’s always the option to return to this powerful place within, no matter the perceived imbalance all around us.”

    Maybe I should stop trying to stand on my head ;) The ideas in your list are really refreshing to hear…as a mother, woman, wife, and well, just as a person. Thank you.

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  42. I’d like to add one to the list. Just because my 4 year old isn’t reading at a 3rd grade level doesn’t mean I’m a bad mom. My first kid learned to talk fast, almost full 4+ correct grammered sentences by 18 months. My second kid 25 words top. I used to beat myself up saying I must of been a better more mom with first, but that’s just not true. Kids all come in different varieties, these differences don’t change the fact that I’m a good mom, it just means they are individuals.

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  43. Have only started the article and love it. Parenting solo, as in parents miles away, and disinterested in anything other than ‘you’re doing it wrong’ via phone; husband who said ‘I’m done’ at 3 weeks old, and friends who all say ‘the pediatrician knows best’ – and she wanted him weaned at 4 months! it’s hard. It’s harder finding stuff on such a vast ocean that not only resonates but is healthy.

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  44. Great article, thank you for writing it.

    So many truths here. Navigating modern motherhood in our culture is more manageable with Self care and trusting our intuition. It would have been helpful if I’d learned that sooner. But I am so thankful I have!

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  45. Karin in Oregon

    What a wonderful gift you have to clearly lay out and articulate myth v. reality, thank you. I was a mother of three girls in the late 70’s, all born within 5 years. I felt like a Blue Bird Club leader. All you describe resonates and answers a question I have had: Do you mothers now feel less isolated today with cell phones and internet? Clearly, all that is most likely adding MORE to the pile.It remains the hardest work in a lifetime, bringing these children safely to their own shorelines of life. I salute you all.

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  46. Nice but made me sad because it shows how little people understand science. Science has no value judgements. It does not ever try to show you how to do anything and how to live. That’s what your ethics do.

    Herd immunity is real whether that is meaningful for you and your family is your business/ethical system. Corporal punishment leads to children more likely to be violent, again it is your value system that decides your actions. And even where your problems don’t fit the expected norms, like a child that is sensitive to gluten, science explains patterns and is based on norms. There are always outliers. Outliers do not mean the science is bad.

    So I don’t mean to detract from the article but I had to say that.

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    • Whether something is or isn’t a fact is not being disputed – ‘herd immunity’ is an achievable state of being – but it is possible for people to disagree about whether it is worth the risk – some people may not choose to prioritise the herd over their own unit. Gluten intolerance exists but how people go about managing their gluten intolerance, (or indeed not managing it), is about individuals weighing up the various pros and cons of their particular situation, (the severity of reaction versus the pleasure of consumption etc.) the article is not suggesting that science is inaccurate, it is explaining that simply being in possession of facts doesn’t serve to constitute a homogenous, one size fits all, ‘correct way’ of being.

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  47. Best internet parenting advice I’ve seen in awhile! Although personally I think the title would be better if it read parenthood instead of motherhood. as this advice applies very much to fathers as well.

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  48. You’re AWESOME – will you marry me? xxxx

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  49. GREAT piece! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for your book.

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  50. I’m not sure I agree exactly about the impact of the Internet. I understand the difference it’s made in your life, but I think MANY parents, mothers in particular, felt that isolation and lack of support BEFORE the days of the Internet. For instance, as the editor of another blog about mothers and revolution (www.thinkingmomsrevolution.com), I hear stories of moms of older children who are so jealous of today’s moms’ ability to cinnect up with like-minded souls in an instant. That said, I agree with every other wise and beautifully stated point you made. This was excellent, and I for one will be co-creating that reality with you.

    Thank you.

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  51. The French dude

    This could also be reflected on fatherhood. There are a lot of single fathers out there.

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  52. What a wonderful article – I particularly loved point number 10 – in a short paragraph you articulated something that every parent needs to understand and accept in order to continue a relationship with their older, less dependant upon us, children. My oldest is 17 and while I have tried my best to arm him with all the knowledge I have and lessons I’ve learned, I understand that ultimately, it’s his life, his journey and his turn to make the most our of opportunities he is given, or not. So far, I’m cautiously optimistic about his future but I will remind myself, once again, that this is his journey. THank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  53. Joan Yamamoto

    When (in 1969) I “fell pregnant” and hastily married being a mother was my responsibility and my joy. I enjoyed to the fullest all the mess, frustrations, tending to the sick ones and celebrating stuff like “look, Mom, I caught a frog in my own bare hands!”
    I considered motherhood my best full time job and did have to go back to work once my kids were in school. At 42 and 40 I still worry about them but trust them to make their own mistakes and have their own joys. I love being a grandmother, too. I, like my own parents, did my best and that’s what life is all about – progress not perfection and a bit of fun, too.

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  54. Dad Ofthree

    Hi Beth, Why not “17 Modern Myths That Are Making PARENTHOOD Miserable” rather than “MOTHERHOOD”?

    While I appreciated your article and agree with your insights, I take offense with the fact that you characterize these difficult decisions and the information overload that we face today as challenges of “MOTHERS” rather than “PARENTS”. You are also perpetuating a myth that dads don’t matter in raising a child.

    Your advice is sound, but please don’t dismiss that these are PARENTING choices, not simply decisions of a mother. Maybe as you finish your book you can clean up this one-sided view of parenting as solely a female endeavor. Your blog intro that “There’s a little something for everyone, and all are welcome here” rings hollow for this DAD. Wake up!

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    • Thank you for your insight, Dad of Three, but choosing to narrow my target audience to those I relate with best hardly qualifies me as being asleep. I assume you haven’t read much on my blog if my inclusion rings hollow. I wholeheartedly believe dads are equally essential in the lives of children. Maybe ask how the author feels next time rather than making broad-sweeping assumptions? Respectfully, A Dad-loving Mother-of-Four

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      • This is one of those that are my biggest petpeeve on the internet! The assumptions with trying to read between lines that are not even there!! I am so annoyed with people always bellyaching about “the opposite” I get that someone is taking their thoughts and going with that thought that doesn’t always require every freaking branch of the tree. God JOB to the author, not for a second did I second guess your motives nor believe for a second that you were alluding to dads not being important. You could ONLY draw that conclusion “that dads don’t matter” if you had actually commented to the fact that dads don’t matter! BUT YOU DIDN’T! AND vent over

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  55. I look forward to your book! What a fantastic artI’ve. Great to see there are mums like yourself speaking up about the reality of parenting and the fact that old beliefs are not always right.
    Exploring what’s right for you and your values is what’s most important. Society can have their say, mums run their households they way they feel is right.

    Go supermums! (Coz every mum is a supermum!)

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  56. The simple fact that your prose held my internet-addled attention from start to finish, speaks volumes about how apt and resonant this post is for me right now. Thank you for taking the time to explore what may seem to some to be a fact of life since time began, but can feel like a plague for so many of us. This illusion of control we mothers are being sold at every turn is so easily checked by a little common sense. None of us really, truly, know what we are doing. We’re all just winging it. Some of us are more tidy, organized wingers than others. (:

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  57. Doris Menzies

    As a 60 year old woman, mother of 3, aged 40, 36 and 32 and grandmother of 1….I can say unequivocally that I made more mistakes, emotionally, physically and spiritually as a mother and wife. My life was turned around 360 degress, not by my own ingenuity or self-exploration, but by answering the knocking at my heart. I invited Jesus into my life when I was 36 years old and He has and continues to grow me into the woman He created me to be…I only need one life-map, no internet, no navman….JUST THE WORD OF GOD – THE BIBLE…Jesus is who He claims to be : THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE…

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  58. That is an excellent 17 points that you raise! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.

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  59. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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  60. I absolutely love the framing of these 17 myths and whole-heartedly embrace them all. I do disagree with the premise here though. That pre-internet, mothers were blissfully unaware of external information to make them feel they weren’t doing it well enough. My mom’s house (in the 1970’s and 80’s) was full of women’s magazines telling her she needed to do it all better while maintaining a cleaner home and prettier face. Daytime tv was constantly pumping out messages what motherhood was “supposed” to be. There has been an unrealistic yardstick for a long time – as soon as consumer culture started needing us to buy our way to “better” the messages have been there.

    That doesn’t make the points here any less true – the internet has certainly amped it up. It has never been more important to learn how to self-author your own life and decide for yourself what “successful” means.

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  61. I haven’t even finished this article yet, but I just want to point out the obvious irony that you said you only two sources to go to for parenting advice pre-internet and that was a good thing. Now, our brains aren’t wired for this overload of information but here I am reading your article with SEVENTEEN tips. Bahahahahahaha

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  62. EllaJoe'smom

    This may be. The best post I have read for you to understand parenting just 17 years ago vs today’s world is huge. Many parents- of new(ish)parents – the gap is larger. So it truly has become apples and oranges. What a great perspective, voice, and assessment. Thank you for sharing to a daughter of a sah (stay at home) Who is now a wmoascnnbmc (working mom of a single child not necessarily by my choice). And I supposed to “number sign” you somewhere in this message?

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  63. This is one of the most excellent articles on mothering I’ve seen in a long time. I think so many mamas have lost sight of the fact that they even CAN react to the gap you describe in the last point. That we are so ridiculously fortunate to have choices, even limited ones. And that the most important choices we make are about what we say to ourselves, how much grace we first extend to ourselves so we can give it freely to others. I have a lot of thoughts on all of these points but they pretty much mirror yours. Thank you for articulating this so well.

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  64. LOVE! No other words are adequate enough! A simple LOVE IT says it all!!!!

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  65. Great read! An honest look at this crazy ride called motherhood that really resonated with me. I’m sure many will relate.

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  66. Thanks for articulating these thoughts. Being a mother is an honor but also so hard. I am learning these lessons every day (with kid 3 in the past 6 years). I put a lot of pressure on myself to fulfill some ideal or others ideals of motherhood — I am daily trying to refocus and listen to my quiet still voice inside. Thanks for all the lovely reminders. xo

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  67. This is so good it is hard to say which entry is my favorite. They all are. Thank you for writing this.

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  68. This is all kind of missing the point… a lot of posting about nothing. The problems with motherhood today are the same as always: fear, pride and selfishness. Forget the internet. We are afraid of not measuring up, but mostly afraid of other people THINKING we don’t measure up. The cure to the mommy wars is two-fold: stop assuming everyone is even thinking about you (they aren’t), and stop getting offended at the idea you could actually learn something from someone. Neither requires guilt. Just learn from others, do better as you know better, and accept that NO ONE is good at everything… nor are others targeting you when they make different parenting choices.

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  69. Absolutely true! We need to support each other. Thank you so much for sharing. I find it helpful to consider unkind criticism the result of someone trying to justify what they feel guilt about. It helps me to not be as affected by it, and stay centered.

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  70. Confused. I was also born in 1977 and had the Internet at 17…particularly by 18 & 19 I was using it as my primary means for research papers etc in college so there was a ton of information and resources and plenty of chat rooms etc for moms to be looking up information and exchanging information.

    Is it just that you chose not to use the Internet? It was widely available both when your daughter was born and even more so when she was 1 & 2 so I’m not understanding why you say there was no internet?

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    • I suppose it varied from person to person and community to community, but I got my first email address in college and don’t remember using the internet for anything substantial until I was maybe 25 or so. We were intentionally minimalistic when it came to technology (didn’t even have a tv until six years ago), so maybe that had something to do with my late blooming into the online world. I definitely don’t think its impact and reach then can be compared to today. It was by no means the go-to for info, nor yet a source of overwhelm for most of us.

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  71. A bit simplistic…. The Internet has opened us up to reality… A reality that we have choices and can look outside the box. We can choose something other than a parenting book or our pediatrician to help us. It has also taught us that our parents that were terrible do not have to be our role models. Processing it all can be too much definitely but now that we’re not not doing it the same way, we get less supportive which is sad.

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  72. This is amazing. You get it. And express it beautifully. Its hard “today” get remember these things..and keep you sanity. Thank you for the wonderful reminded. I shared with many!

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  73. Thank you for this. I have three children and have been suffering since day one of my eldest son’s birth with guilt, doubt, anxiety, and depression. Your words speak right to the root of my experience. Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom. I can’t wait to read your book!

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  74. This article is so rich. I think #11 is one of the most important bits of understanding that a parent can have. So much information is available, and some of it is really helpful, but it must be connected through our own life, our own intuition, values and knowledge of ourselves and our children. If we all followed the same recipe, we wouldn’t have the opportunity for self development or really creating a unique relationship with our children. Thanks for writing this and for your passion to support the journey of motherhood.

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  75. Thank you for this article!

    I was 17 with my first child as well, and 30 when I had my last – and I related to this so much it was almost as if you had written it for me! I was/am having a crisis of parenting right now, and I really needed these beautiful articulate words. Thank you!

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  76. Hi Beth: Loved your article. So right on! Thank you. Wondering if I could send you a copy of my book: Living in the Shadow of the Too-Good Mother Archetype for you to review. I speak to the changing roles of mothers and the unconscious repetition of the past mistakes. I just need a mailing address and I can send your way! Patti

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  77. Interesting read. Though not necessarily in agreement with #4, that staying home is a freedom of “choice”. Sometimes you really wish to stay home with your kids but you have no choice, you have to work to feed the family. I wish stay at home moms would be more considerate and not blubber on and on about how great it is they can BE there for their kids at such an important age and attend all their kids events. For goodness sake, just be more considerate!

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  78. Sorry, my comment is about #3… Trying to multitask on my train ride home (lol)

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  79. ( : Katelyn : )

    Some very helpful truths! And how neat to have the experience of mothering pre and post internet-everywhere!
    Have you read the book “The Wonder of Girls” by Michael Gurian? If not, I think that you would LOVE it! It totally revised and revived my mindset about mothering, and being a female! I can’t wait to read your book when it’s finished!

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  80. I love this! I try not to get sucked into too many of these myths but there are some that are so ingrained in our society.

    #4 creeps into my head a lot and causes feelings of guilt from time to time. I never call myself an “attachment parent” because I work outside of the home and my son spends his days at daycare. Even though I identify with and believe in much of the attachment parenting philosophy and was a baby wearing, co-sleeping and (still) breastfeeding momma.

    #6 is creating a new mantra for me. Balance cannot be achieved – focus on finding your “centeredness.”

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  81. Kate westrupp

    I fall into the same camp, I am 45 with a 3 year old, a 27 year old and two in-between. I couldn’t agree with this article more, all the time I feel guilty at what I am not doing as shown by media, Facebook, pinterest etc. I hate parenting in this day and age, it is horrible.

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  82. I am now a grandma and have bought up 5 children . These still apply – so good to read . Thank you

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  83. Thank you so much for writing this! I feel like a weight has been lifted. I was a mum first time at 20, and now have a newborn at 37 (I was born in 1977 too!). I thought this second time would be “easier” because I’d be armed with the so much more information. But, I find myself doubting and second guessing myself regularly and in a way that I didn’t when I was a young single mum, who relied a lot more on instinct and tuning in to my child’s needs. I find that we mums perpetuate many of these myths ourselves when we post and present an “ideal” version of our lives on social media… But the other side of the coin is that we can reach out for help in a much quicker and more efficient way, if we can effectively navigate the internet minefield! I look forward to exploring your blog more.

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  84. Thankyou, that says it all.

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  85. Can I make one teeny caveat (wholly wonderful observations – glad someone posted this to me)that is probably totally unnecessary for your audience, but which drives me crazy just the same?

    The segment where you mentioned parents taking time for themselves as being important is something I felt to offer a caveat. I hear from people on less thoughtful internet locations that it is “my right to get stoned,” to “escape,” and “to zone out recreationally,” “where I am not hurting anyone.”

    Parenting does not allow for insobriety. If at any time a child or teenager or young adult comes looking for an ear, some advice, guidance, help with homework, a social situation that includes bullies, dating, break-ups, or, ugh, hanging out, or worse, a physical injury or trauma, and a parent is not on their toes, is taking a recreational escape, and cannot listen, respond, or take the kid to the E.R. because they have put something into their body that takes time to clear, or their willful habit of doing such numbs them to what the real world you present so authentically is about, well, that is immoral. Active, aware, loving parents, any social strata or stressful situation(s), don’t need and should not be convinced that insobriety is ever ok. ‘Nuff said. Thanks.

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  86. Hi Beth, thank you for your article. What a deep and thought provoking read! Almost 30, no kids, I’m constantly being asked about motherhood and admit, I’ve been terrified! Often getting caught up in websites, feeling so overwhelmed by it all before we’ve even began! It’s quite honestly daunted me so much, I was left wondering whether I even want to be a parent! But getting back to simple, basic approaches to learning, support and experience through parenthood, and dropping some of the social cultural expectations we place on ourselves and others, will be really useful. Thank you for sharing.

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  87. Excellent. I’ve got two kids in their 20s, both independent and confident, and more secure within themselves than either my husband or I were at that age, so I must know something :-). Here’s what we discovered: each child is born with a unique temperament and tendencies and will need something different from you. You cannot control that any more than you can control when they learn to walk. You can only control your own reaction. So you need to be flexible and play the cards you’re dealt. You are not a perfect parent, but if you mess up, and are willing to be open with your kids when you wish you’d handled something differently or made a mistake with them and need a “do over,” you are teaching them an important lesson about being able to take responsibility for one’s actions. Give them space to handle their relationships with friends and teachers, and guidance if they are having trouble, but try not to intervene directly unless absolutely necessary. Also, don’t be afraid to set boundaries and limits. Consistent limits, rules, whatever you want to call them, with clear consequences that you follow through with, are part of their security, no less when they’re 16 than when they’re 3. They won’t admit it at the time, but deep down they know it’s part of your caring about them, even when they’re railing against how unreasonable you are. Both my kids have spontaneously remarked to us how glad they were that we set limits and expectations for them that help them cope independently today.

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  88. Thank you for this breath of fresh air. This one really got me right now: Our children’s questionable choices reflect bad parenting on our part. Right on. They are their own people and some mistakes you just need to make on your own.

    I’d sure feel surprised to find out if my mom felt any blame or credit for my current life choices.

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  89. Dear Beth
    I am delivering shortly a short course for women in workplace where I do provide them with different way of seeing things and skills they will need in life. I used your article to list some myths and true stories.

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  90. I love how you use the term “A truer story”
    What a unique perspective you have based on your life experience and when you had your children. Your article is very positive and affirming. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.

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  91. Great points. I wish I had read this when I was getting all the “advice” during my children’s grade school period. The only thought I have is #7 is great advice for those who basically have the instinct to put their children’s needs ahead of their own not the other way around.

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  92. Wonderful. Just wonderful. One good thing about the internet? It brought me this, a compassionate, intelligent, succinct articulation of things I thought and felt but have never until now heard expressed so brilliantly. Thank you.

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