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Who says you SHOULD?

1
‘SHOULDS’ – an instruction, often bearing a weary weight – telling you how things are supposed to be done (my definition).

SHOULDS are dominant in parenting. From the birth plan, to managing baby’s sleep to education, they permeate intrusively into every stage of your child’s life.

SHOULDS glare brightly from external sources – they cunningly bombard your psyche, without you realising it – kind family, well-meaning friends, social media and parenting bibles. And, whether you realise it or not, you probably have your own internal

SelfishMother.com
2
critic, repetitively pumping out SHOULDS, loaded with messages you have unconsciously absorbed over the years.

SHOULDS can create problems.

They often lead to needless, horrible guilt. A feeling of messing up and failing at this parenting malarkey.

She SHOULD be potty trained by now.
He surely SHOULD be sleeping through the night.
She SHOULDN’T be so sensitive.

SHOULDS can make you feel like a very bad parent. Taken to further extremes, they can lead to depression and anxiety. Not good, for you or your child.

SHOULDS are

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exhausting. They keep you striving on an infinite treadmill that churns out further SHOULDS, exterminating joy and spontaneity. There’s always a surplus of cleaning or working or cooking or doing to be done; so, less time for giggling or playing or being.

SHOULDS falsely give an illusion of control. If you’re ticking all the boxes, then you must be happy and winning, right? So why feeling anxious, not authentic? Maybe, these SHOULDS have taken you off-piste from your own life journey?

SHOULDS bring judgement. They make a grey world, seem black

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and white; right or wrong; perfect or imperfect. When in reality, there are few absolutes.

Sometimes, I have been ruled by SHOULDS. I think back to baby number one (now almost 13) and the pressure I felt to ‘get it right’ in the first year of her life.

When babies two and three (twins) came along; the SHOULD rule-book thankfully had to fly out of the window. Standards were drastically lowered as a necessity for survival. It was daunting but a lot more freeing.

So, if you’re feeling a bit burdened down with SHOULDS –

Stop, take a pause

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and question them.

Who says you SHOULD? You can still listen to advice, but only take on board the bits that work for you.

Does this SHOULD fit with your values?

If the SHOULD doesn’t work, reject it and bravely walk your own path. Make a choice informed by your own voice, thoughts and opinions. Do this frequently and you will build your emotional resilience, trusting yourself to do it again and again. It will feel GOOD.

You might have to take a step back from all the SHOULD noise, to reconnect with your thoughts. It is worth taking the

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time to do this though – and, you might get in touch with some secret WANTS that have been hiding away for a while. Go live them!
SelfishMother.com
Harriet Frew

By

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- 22 Mar 19

‘SHOULDS’ – an instruction, often bearing a weary weight – telling you how things are supposed to be done (my definition).

SHOULDS are dominant in parenting. From the birth plan, to managing baby’s sleep to education, they permeate intrusively into every stage of your child’s life.

SHOULDS glare brightly from external sources – they cunningly bombard your psyche, without you realising it – kind family, well-meaning friends, social media and parenting bibles. And, whether you realise it or not, you probably have your own internal critic, repetitively pumping out SHOULDS, loaded with messages you have unconsciously absorbed over the years.

SHOULDS can create problems.

They often lead to needless, horrible guilt. A feeling of messing up and failing at this parenting malarkey.

  • She SHOULD be potty trained by now.
  • He surely SHOULD be sleeping through the night.
  • She SHOULDN’T be so sensitive.

SHOULDS can make you feel like a very bad parent. Taken to further extremes, they can lead to depression and anxiety. Not good, for you or your child.

SHOULDS are exhausting. They keep you striving on an infinite treadmill that churns out further SHOULDS, exterminating joy and spontaneity. There’s always a surplus of cleaning or working or cooking or doing to be done; so, less time for giggling or playing or being.

SHOULDS falsely give an illusion of control. If you’re ticking all the boxes, then you must be happy and winning, right? So why feeling anxious, not authentic? Maybe, these SHOULDS have taken you off-piste from your own life journey?

SHOULDS bring judgement. They make a grey world, seem black and white; right or wrong; perfect or imperfect. When in reality, there are few absolutes.

Sometimes, I have been ruled by SHOULDS. I think back to baby number one (now almost 13) and the pressure I felt to ‘get it right’ in the first year of her life.

When babies two and three (twins) came along; the SHOULD rule-book thankfully had to fly out of the window. Standards were drastically lowered as a necessity for survival. It was daunting but a lot more freeing.

So, if you’re feeling a bit burdened down with SHOULDS –

Stop, take a pause and question them.

Who says you SHOULD? You can still listen to advice, but only take on board the bits that work for you.

Does this SHOULD fit with your values?

If the SHOULD doesn’t work, reject it and bravely walk your own path. Make a choice informed by your own voice, thoughts and opinions. Do this frequently and you will build your emotional resilience, trusting yourself to do it again and again. It will feel GOOD.

You might have to take a step back from all the SHOULD noise, to reconnect with your thoughts. It is worth taking the time to do this though – and, you might get in touch with some secret WANTS that have been hiding away for a while. Go live them!

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Harriet Frew

I'm a Mum of three (one daughter and twin sons). I'm a therapist specialsing in eating disorders and body image; working for the Adult Eating Disorder Service at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge and in private practice. I am passionate about supporting people to recover from eating disorders. I like to try my hand at ninja warrior training and parkour, when I have time!

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