Parenting, Community, and Expectations in Modern times: What happened to saying it’s hard?

Written By: Ashley Miller, LPC

When working with families, as well as observations within my own extended family and friend groups, I see a pattern of struggling to present that “we’ve got it all together”. I admittedly have fallen into this trap myself too many times to count. Many things seem to contribute to this current expectation, but it has left families and parents feeling isolated and not being able to share the true story of their family.

No family is immune to struggles and those vary as the children grow. Also, everyone reacts to stressors and struggles in a different way, so one thing that may derail one family, another may be able to adjust accordingly. With that, no response is wrong, but being alone in that struggle can enhance the issue. In theme with Behavioral Health Clinic’s mission to “break the stigma”, I’d like to make that even broader to have families be able to feel safe in sharing that it isn’t always a perfect family unit in their life. I find people sharing with me normal developmental concerns for their children, for example tantrums over things, still sleeping with their parents, fear of the dark, that are normal development concerns that a child generally grows out of. Sadly, we struggle to admit these concerns to those in our circle, whether it’s family, friends, neighbors or coworkers, for fear of “not having it all together”.

I want to challenge you to share with others when your family isn’t “picture perfect”. I want to work on normalizing that we all struggle and that families do as a unit as well. That tantrums are something most parents have experienced with their child in the grocery store, carrying them out screaming, feeling like everyone is staring at you. That you gave cereal for dinner, and that is all, because it was a rough day. That you got into an argument with our partner, while your child was within earshot. That you yelled back as your teenager. All these things happen and it can make you feel like a “bad parent” but in reality it’s just part of the ride. Parents are human, so families are made up of humans, and I say that in good humor. We can’t have the expectation of ourselves to be perfect, much less the family unit. I want to build community in that it is safe to share struggles and find support with those trudging through those difficult times. Please join me in changing this, so that we can all truly share all aspects of our lives without shame.