Caring for You and Your Family

Impostor Mom Syndrome How to overcome parental self-doubt

If you are a new mom and you feel inadequate, unprepared and unworthy for the task ahead, then you are suffering from the impostor mom syndrome, which refers to feelings of anxiety, guilt and self-doubt as a new parent. Here are some common impostor mom syndromes and how you can deal with them.

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Is parenting is just too much! Feeling overwhelmed? Worry not.

Here’s the thing about parenting and life in general – you can go to the best schools and read all the books in the world, but it is not the same as experiencing the real thing. You heard that babies cry a whole lot; you just never thought it would be yours, right? Babies pee and poop a ton and the cycle goes on until they are fully independent.

Basically, it feels like your little one may own your time and life for a long time. A lot of parents, especially women, get shocked by just how ‘unprepared’ they feel once the baby checks in; after all, society expects maternal instincts to kick in instantly, yet this is far from the truth for very many women.

A lot of women secretly harbour feelings of resentment towards their children (then feel guilty and ashamed of it) not knowing that it is perfectly normal to have moments where you cannot stand your children’s presence without eroding your love for them. Just remember to breathe in deeply and then ask for help.

Difficulty in juggling between husband and baby. A family comprises of more than just you and your child. While traditional African society was conservative about the extent to which men would get involved with children (they definitely didn’t change the babies when they pooped), society always made provision for new moms through support from in-laws, relatives and the larger community.

Although in modern-day Africa the family bonds are no longer that strong, most couples are willing to put in their fair share of time to make the transition to parenting easy.

Most hospitals, including public ones, strongly advocate for couples to attend pre-natal clinics jointly, especially the counselling sessions so as to be able to transition into parenting with ‘more ease.’

The reality is, a baby changes the dynamics of all relationships and can drain and strain a couple’s relationship. The faster you realise this as a couple, the easier it will be to transition. Where possible, make sure you have some quality alone time to catch up and unwind. The success of a couple’s relationship lies in each member, not one.

Feelings of inadequacy

This is probably the most common of all impostor mom syndromes. There is an immense amount of pressure for women to get this ‘parenting thing’ down to a T.  Truth be told; generations of women have been winging it while maintaining a straight face. You don’t have to do everything right at every hour.

Take it one day or situation at a time. Experience is the only way to know what works and what does not work. It does help to consult but remember; you know your baby best. So tweak advice according to your situation, unless the baby’s well-being is in danger. There is no shame in admitting you don’t know something and there is no shame in turning down (amicably), advice you know will not serve the interests of your child.

How to help a new mom
Here are ways to make life a bit easier for a new mom:
Offer to babysit so she can rest.
Offer to do chores such as cleaning, laundry and cooking.
Resist the temptation to criticise.
Offer to talk about everything else aside from parenting unless it is what she wants to talk about.
If she can’t go to the spa, then arrange for the spa to come to her! A lot of beauticians are open to making house calls. So go nuts and pamper that new mom!

Published April 2017

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