This is not what I expected…
The road to parenthood can be paved with many bumps and hurdles. This is not a surprise, however what happens when not only the road, but also the whole journey turns out to be completely different to what you were expecting?
An early 30s, high-achieving professional woman sat in my clinic once, unable to understand why she didn’t feel an overwhelming sense of love when her baby was born. Another young mum felt resentful about this little human being entering her world but couldn’t explain these feelings. A couple who had waited years for their baby to arrive slowly realised that this gig wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
Not one of these people didn’t feel love for their babies, they were all able to recognise some joy within themselves when looking at their son or daughter. However, each person in their own right, felt confused by the shear gap in their expectations of parenthood versus the reality that was in front of them. Each of these people struggled to understand how their expectations were so ‘wrong’.
So how can we support mothers and fathers to come to terms with the reality of that difficult first year of a new parent’s life? Do we scare them with horror stories of all the challenges that lay ahead? Or do you allow couples to believe that things are rosy and happy all the time?
For a Counsellor who works within the transition to parenting period, sharing practical knowledge around child birth and pregnancy is only one support available to expecting and new parents. Working with pregnant couples prior to birth will allow them to reflect on their own views and values around what parenting is? What their expectations of this journey are and are these views on the same page as their partners? No horror stories needed, just simple, honest reflection on what expectations are held and how we can help them become a reality, so that the gap that currently exists between expectations and reality grows smaller each day.