#secondlockdown – are parents better prepared for round two?

Look after yourself, don’t compare yourself with anyone

Look after yourself, don’t compare yourself with anyone - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

During the previous lockdown, a local parent confided in me: “You must think I am the most useless parent, but I have raised another child successfully before this one” referring to their child/my student. There was, of course, no need for this feeling.

What was our benchmark there? Indeed, there were already two: theirs, and mine. Let’s look at another example: a similarly common, if not more topical subject is: our appearance!

On Woman’s Hour this week on Radio 4, a woman was complaining she thought of herself as ‘fat’.

The presenter was asking what/whom she was comparing herself to? Unfortunately, flicking through celebrities’ Instagram accounts could have immediately created/reinforced that sentiment.

Albert Einstein dedicated most of his research life to relativity – I quote: “Relativity teaches us the connection between the different descriptions of one and the same reality.”

Why do we compare everything? And in doing so, why do we doubt ourselves and not others if we are to be part of a larger group of individuals?

For instance, how many times have you doubted yourself as a parent? I have many a time.

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I was interested in the wonderful piece produced by Katie Cavanna, managing director of Re4orm in Torbay, on ‘imposter syndrome’ (Torbay Weekly, October 29) especially to hear that most of us experience this at different stages of our lives.

I concluded then, that parenting could probably be the role in which we feel/think this the most, as we are not trained neither educated nor do we graduate or pass certificates before we throw ourselves into parenting.

One simple but essential distinction is important to acknowledge, in presenting modern research on self-doubt. Results of self-worth have been separated neatly into two scopes: ‘self-competence’ and ‘self-liking’.

We over-analyse ourselves, compare our looks, size, academic achievements, and on this topic: styles of parenting.

We often hear that in years gone by ‘it took a village to raise a child’ well, when ‘a whole village raised a child’. No-one was wrong! Or right! The child was raised.

So how do we do this in the 21st century in the middle of a pandemic in Torbay when we cannot meet properly to air our woes and concerns about our parenting skills for instance?

First, do not browse social media. If you want information, obtain it from reliable sources, known organisations and charities, whether national or local.

Returning to the idea of the ‘village’, what is there in Torbay to support us, the adults who parent, mentor, educate our young people?

‘FIS’ on the Torbay Council website offers a range of local services accessible by phone if your child has added needs, Parenting Solutions Devon based in Paignton continues to offer parenting advice through the pandemic, via phone or Facetime.

I had the chance to meet South West Family Values, based in Torquay, and see the wonderful work they offer to families in the Bay, notably a ‘Teen Triple P’ programme which we will explore further in my next column.

For now, remember the days when we flew all over the place? Remember this announcement?

“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the mask over your own mouth and nose before assisting your child.”

Look after yourself, don’t compare yourself with anyone, if you have a need for a bit of help, reach out to reliable and compassionate people or organisations.

“The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are conceited while the intelligent are full of doubt,” Bertrand Russell.

Healthy doubt is OK, it breeds learning and knowledge; shameful doubt is toxic and breeds self-condemnation.

• To obtain the whole series of articles already published on this topic check Twitter @vbailey63