Maybe you’re someone who read every baby book and parenting know-how you could get your hands on. Or maybe you thought you’d rely on that maternal instinct to kick in after birth (but maybe it never did). It can be both exciting and terrifying to become a parent, because you realize that someone else put their life on the line for you. You can also find out more about us on our website. In charge of another person
It can seem impossible to ever feel truly ready for the responsibilities that come with parenthood, but it’s the mentality that you’re not a good enough mother that’s at the core of what experts call ‘motherhood imposter syndrome’. This common but rarely discussed phenomenon can cause you to spiral into self-doubt over your parenting skills, and once you develop these negative thoughts, it’s hard to dispel them. Overcoming motherhood imposter syndrome doesn’t happen overnight, but it is possible.
What is the motherhood imposter’s syndrome?
Motherhood imposter syndrome is the belief that no matter what you do, you’ll never be a good enough caretaker. This condition can make people feel inadequate and unworthy, according to Sabrina Romanoff. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in transitions in New York City.
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Signs and symptoms of motherhood imposter’s syndrome
Although there is no such condition as the perfect parent, this one causes a persistent feeling of doubt and inadequacy when it comes to parenting. These can manifest in different ways, including:
- Excessive negative self-talk
- Difficulty in asking for help
- Feeling like an failure
- Frequent upward social comparison
- Minimizing accomplishments
- Constant fear of being judged
Motherhood imposter sufferers often lack confidence in their parenting abilities, despite their past experience, skills and efforts. Dr. Romanoff said that these women feel guilty about being a sub-par mother to their kids. It is for this reason that words of affirmation and feedback are difficult for those with motherhood-imposter syndrome. You may feel like a fake, and not deserve compliments. Or you might even feel worse about misleading others.
Unresolved, a lack of confidence can lead to self-destructive behaviors. Dora Kamau, mindfulness and meditation instructor for Headspace, says self-doubt leads to an irrational anxiety about the future, the inability to connect with others, and problems returning back to work after maternity leaves.
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It is not uncommon to experience imposter syndrome when facing a new challenge or a difficult one. Being a mother falls into this category. Kamau says that transitioning into the role of mother can lead to you doubting your ability to handle this new responsibility. “Nothing in life can prepare you for the role of being a mother,” she tells Motherly.
Kiana Shelton LCSW, a therapist from Mindpath Health, said that the condition could occur regardless of race or socioeconomic status. It can also happen no matter how much you have support in your network. She says that mothers who are high achievers or introverts will be more likely to suffer from motherhood imposter’s syndrome.
The biggest trigger for motherhood imposter syndrome is society’s expectation that women are born to be mothers. And when the time comes, it’s expected that the transition will come naturally and seamlessly.
Dr. Romanoff states that first-time mothers often have unrealistic expectations of what motherhood will be like because they haven’t experienced it.
You may develop the syndrome even if you didn’t initially. You might compare your parenting habits to other mothers in your community or on social media who seem to have the most perfect children or appear like “supermoms”.
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Children’s health effects
Kids observe and copy their parents’ behavior and attitudes as a way of learning how to act. How you treat yourself and your child is a model for them. While nearly all parents have moments of self doubt, Dr. Romanoff believes that displaying constant fear and anxiety may affect the way children view their own well-being.
For example, children may internalize their mother’s beliefs when they get older. They may feel inferior to others or that they will never be good enough. “This display of self-hatred can trickle down to the child feeling self-doubt and incompetent,” says Kamau.
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How to overcome motherhood imposter Syndrome
To deal with motherhood Imposter Syndrome, you must first recognize the signs. Once you identify the self-doubt, it’s important to acknowledge your feelings. Shelton advises that you find a safe place to talk about your thoughts with a mom who you trust, or a professional therapist. Use your support network to remind you to celebrate your accomplishments, even if you don’t feel like it at first. Start small, by listing three positive things that you did each night before going to bed. This will give you the confidence to see your strengths, and create a more positive mindset.
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Comparing yourself with others is another hurdle that you need to overcome. To stop yourself from feeling self-doubt, unfollow the people you are constantly comparing yourself with on social media.
Above all else, you must remember that your child is dependent on you. Also work to recognize that no one’s perfect, and we’re all just doing the best we can—day in, day out. “Parents can get over this feeling when they accept themselves as humans, not perfect robots,” says Dr. Romanoff. “Accepting that their flawed nature also comes with warmth and love is key in recognizing what their children really need.”
Dora Kamau She is a mindfulness teacher and meditation instructor for Headspace.
Sabrina Romanoff is a PhD., a clinical psychology in New York City.
Kiana Shelton, LCSW, a therapist with Mindpath Health.
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