The Dark Side of Parenting

As much as we don’t like to admit it and feel bad about even thinking it: Parenting is hard and quite frankly not as much fun as I expected it to be. Don’t get me wrong, I was never expecting it to be a breeze but somehow I just thought I would be able to cope with certain situations  better.

Being a parent is wonderful, fulfilling, meaningful and has really taught me the true meaning of ‘unconditional love’ but the truth is recently being a parent has been quite a challenging affair and has left me feeling drained (physically and emotionally), inadequate and with an ever growing feeling of guilt that is hard to shake off.

There are so many challenges we face as parents that I suppose it is impossible to get it right all the time. But I want to and try my very best to.

I want to be the parent that never looses patience.

I want to be the parent that never shouts.

I want to be the parent that never feels disappointed.

I want to be the parent that doesn’t take things to heart.

I want to be the parent that is always fun.

I want to be the parent with all the answers.

I want to be the parent that always makes the right choices.


Sometimes however this is not the parent that I am. Maybe because I can’t remember the last time I had a full night sleep, or because I am under a lot of stress or maybe because I just had enough and I’m only hanging on by a thread, a very very thin thread.

Now, here is where the guilt sets in.

I feel guilty that I hid in the toilet to have a few minutes of quiet.

I feel guilty that I wished I had more time alone.

I feel guilty that sometimes I wish I was at work instead of being at home with the kids.

I feel guilty for loosing my patience.

I feel guilty for taking things to heart.

I feel guilty for looking forward to bedtime so I can finally sit down and have a grown up uninterrupted conversation.

I feel guilty about having all this feelings, however fleeting because I LOVE MY CHILDREN more than anything else in this life and truly cannot imagine my life without them.

You are probably wondering why I’m telling you all this. Why would I admit to such failure? I tell you why. I wanted to share this with you because guilt is a BITCH and once it creeps up on you it can be all consuming and leave you feeling alone.

Surely no one else can possibly feel this way.

Well, you are wrong and I was wrong also. It turns out that there is a dark side to parenting after all and being a parent is not perfect and sweet and fun all the time.

You are not inadequate.

You are not a failure.

You are just a good parent having a bad day, week or month and YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Love, P

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  1. Oh I really sympathise and had all the same feelings when mine were small I promise but time and age helps – this helps with both the children and us as parents. They’ve never been a child before and we’ve never been parents so we are both learning – that’s tough but with time you learn to pick your battles and the children learn how to mature. It’s a long haul to get there but it will happen and one day you’ll sit with hubby over a glass of wine and reflect that in fact you’ve done the best job you could have done xx

  2. oh honey this is so true, we do feel guilty for having these feelings, yet we all do! I wish at times I had more patience, but at the end of the day I know I am a good mum #draemteam

  3. Great post! I have been thinking a lot about this lately. I think our heads get away from us, and we go about criticising ourselves without even questioning whether those criticisms are valid. So I’m trying to notice those thoughts and reminding myself that parenting is hard and of course we’re going to have bad days. Thanks for the reminder! #dreamteam

  4. We ALL have these feelings. That I would put a years salary on. You are most definitely not alone. It’s the hardest damn job we’ll ever do with no training and no guide book. How I wish there was a guide book!! Chin up lovely. #dreamteam

  5. I’m so glad you wrote this post. We all feel like this (anyone who says they don’t feel it for at least one day a year is lying!) because being at the constant demand of others 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is TOUGH! I’ve definitely had days where I put my daughter down for a nap early or clock watch until bedtime. But they balance out with the days where you suddenly realise it’s time to go up for a bath and you don’t feel like the day is finished. #FamilyFun

  6. Great post! Parenting is tough and guilt is a Bitch as you say! I have experienced all you talk of and more. However, knowing I am not alone helps a little and I am not perfect so maybe I just have to accept that and do my best. #famiyfun

  7. Oh Pat I can really relate to this. I think I was in this place not too long ago. I think the guilt is the worst, it makes us feel just so bad. We are not bad people for wanting some alone time, looking forward to bed time or feeling overwhelemed. As you say it is constant and there is no reprieve. I don’t believe there is a parent who doesn’t shout sometimes or loose their patience. With the best will in the world we are all human and sometimes it can just all get a bit much. You’re right though we are not alone and and neither are we bad parents but we do have a bad patch from time to time and that’s ok. Thank you for sharing at #familyfun xx

  8. Oh Pat, Guilt is such a bitch. I don’t swear often but that word totally deserves it. Why do we put ourselve under so much pressure? I’ve not been able to work it out. Talking totally helps, if I’ve had a bad day full of doubt I chat to Dave and this seems to help bring me back round. He know how to say all the right things. You are a fab Mum, just gotta believe it! Thanks for linking up to #FamiliyFun

  9. Thank you for this honest post. I can totally relate after a very difficult time with my two-year old twins this week. It has been exhausting, and I totally understand your feelings of guilt, but we soldier on, and every one keeps telling me it does get easier. So here’s hoping… 🙂

  10. Guilt is really rife amongst mothers. It is so easy to feel that we have to be and do everything happily for our children. But it is natural and human to have other feelings at times. Parenting is relentless. I wrote my book The Guilt-Free Guide to motherhood because I saw so many women doing a great job but feeling guilty that they could not live up to some perfect ideal of motherhood. In reality we all have mixed feelings but it is hard to know because the dark side is rarely talked about. On interviewing mothers for my book I found a real mix of powerful feelings. We don’t judge the happiness in ourselves but we do judge ourselves harshly when we don’t enjoy it or feel trapped by it. Great post. I will be sharing. #ablogginggoogtime

  11. I really needed to read this today. I often find myself thinking the same – I’m just not the parent I thought I would be – or the one I want to be – and it makes me feel beyond guilty. But reading your post has given me some hope that it’s not just me! Thanks so much for sharing – you’ve made my day better! #ablogginggoodtime

  12. #dreamteam #ablogginggoodtime I love this, it’s a balancing and perspective game – having a baby should be renamed, learning circus skills…juggling being the main one, it would be more use to me than birthing classes

  13. Like many of your readers have said, I too appreciate the honesty in this post. There is a certain irony to the fact that Mother Nature is in fact a mother; The bright sun wouldn’t exist without the clouds and thunder after all. 🙂

  14. I totally feel for you because most of time one or more of these come into my head parenting is hard but ultimately worth it great post #globalblogging

  15. Who would not relate to this!? I wished many times to be back at work but then I reckon I will hate it when it’s time for me to leave my baby at the nursery…. Being a parent is not easy for sure but as long as we try our best, then happy days #GlobalBlogging

  16. I am so glad that you linked your post up to the #DreamTeam. I think most parents will be able to relate to this in some way or another. There is always so much going on and so much to juggle when a parent. Whether you are doing it on your own, or have a big family to help out, it’s never going to be 100% perfect. Brilliant post. xx

  17. I can relate to all of this! What a great post. Some days I am the fun, patient parent but then I can feel the frustration and the need to hide in the bathroom building up. The days really do go so fast but sometimes whilst I’m living it they feel like they drag.

  18. I suffer from this so badly – alyssa and i are pretty much together 24/7 and I have been out without her a total of 2 times for longer than an hour since she was born. I feel bad but I am starting to realise i need more of a break because otherwise when she becomes testing like she is I feel horrible because I dont want to be around her. We all need a break
    thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

  19. Reading your post Patricia, I felt myself nodding through each paragraph. I have had the worst week with my kids and have lost count of all my parenting fails.. Here’s hoping it’s just this week 🙂 .. Don’t think I could survive a month. xxx Thanks for sharing with us, hope to see you next week! #globalblogging

  20. This is the kind of honesty parents need to hear. We all kind of travel in our own little guilt-ridden bubbles, thinking we might be the worst parents ever. Turns out everyone else is feeling about the same. Despite parents’ shortcomings, children usually turn out pretty well, if given the right resources, encouragement and love. And I can tell you from working with children for over 30 years (EEK!), they are so forgiving, and appreciate adults telling them they (the adults) don’t know everything and can’t possibly do everything. The fact that we as parents are the first to point our weaknesses and flaws, means we are trying our best, and that is all anyone can hope for.

  21. It’s hard isn’t it (despite what we see on Facebook), but if you didn’t occasionally shout, lose patience, take things to heart, and be boring once in a while, you wouldn’t be human. Well done for recognising the normality of bad days; I’ve learned to revel in the loo time, not feel guilty about it. It’s my sanctuary.

  22. It’s hard isn’t it (despite what we see on Facebook), but if you didn’t occasionally shout, lose patience, take things to heart, and be boring once in a while, you wouldn’t be human. Well done for recognising the normality of bad days; I’ve learned to revel in the loo time, not feel guilty about it. It’s my sanctuary.

  23. I am alway torn between the guilt of wanting to put duck tape on my child’s mouth for a little peace and quiet and wanting to bottle up all of the energy she gets through out the day. I love my daughter but the guilt of not being able to keep up with her is enough to drive me batty. I am glad I am not the only parent striving to keep the guilt a bay. Thank you for the post.

  24. Oh how we can all relate to all of your feelings. Maybe, after all, it’s not guilt, it’s just parenting! We are all a roller coaster of emotions, just like our wee ones. Thank goodness we all have each other! #BigPinkLink xoxo

  25. You’re definitely not alone, I feel like this pretty much all of the time. It’s like an unspoken rule that you don’t talk about things like this, yet I think it’s something that needs to be addressed, as the guilt from these feelings and not being able to work through them, can be even more damaging. I’ve written a couple of posts about it recently, expecting to be hung drawn and quartered, but the response from people who felt the same, was overwhelming. We are just human, and as much as people say that parents should sacrifice everything for their children, we will still suffer if our needs aren’t met!!
    Well said, I hope you feel better for saying it x

  26. This is all so true. If only everyone would be honest about the struggles they face instead of sugar coating it…. parenting is wonderful and amazing but it’s also HARD. Thank you for sharing.

  27. This was a really great post, with content that most of us really need to hear once in a while. I’m always struggling with these dark passing thoughts as a mother, what if I don’t measure up. But, I am not inadequate. I am not a failure. I’m good enough, thank you.

  28. Great post!!! Brings out the true reality of parenting that people don’t see once the door is closed. Everyone expects u to be on your ‘A’ game all the time when in reality you just want a few minutes to have a cry and a moan!!!

  29. Well said. I go through this all the time but I am a god parent. A lot of the time we put pressure on ourselves and sometimes it’s because of the media and so-called ‘experts’ who paint a picture of picture perfect happiness and kids who are little adults who can be reasoned with to behave all day over a few kind words. When that doesn’t happen, you casn feel like a failure.

  30. I realise this is incredibly cliched and not something that you’ll feel like doing right now but you’ve got to show yourself some love. The love you have for your kids is unconditional- that’s I’m sure a factor in the stress because you, like me and every other parent wants to do everything right all of the time. It’s impossible. I shout, cry, lose patience and do virtually everything you mention. You are certainly not alone. Guilt is a bitch but by talking about it I’m really hope that release valve is starting just to open a little. I’ve been there: sometimes I feel like I’m going to pop from bottling things up. I hope you feel better soon. Have a lovely weekend.

  31. A very honest wonderful post and all exactly true I sympathise with you because I felt the same especiallytime on my own super brilliant post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

  32. I feel you mama. Parenting is hard. Yesterday I had such a bad day! My girl wouldnt stop crying (toothypegs) ans even I had a little cry too. But today will be better! Good luck to you too xx

  33. Oh you’re totally not alone!!! Sometimes I feel like must be an awful human being for having these feelings, but we are only human! And the fact that you care shows what a great mother you are. You’re doing a wonderful job xx #stayclassymama

  34. I read this and thought Wow you place a massive amount of pressure on yourself, it comes with having high standards and I can relate to this. You want to be the BEST mother you could ever be – however there is no shame in loosing your patience – it teaches our children boundaries, we cant be fun ALL the time, so we need to as mothers cut ourselves some slack. You are doing an amazing job and a tough job too! Wanting time for ourselves is natural and essential so we can be the best we can be – so try so long winded! #stayclassymama

  35. What? You can’t be the parent that is always fun. It’s not your job to be fun. It’s your job to be strict, mean and disciplinary.

    You’re allowed to hide in the bathroom and cry every day, that’s why they have locks.
    You’re allowed to sneak chocolates when your kids aren’t looking.
    You’re allowed to be “selfish”, it’s not selfish to do stuff to keep from losing your mind.

    Save being fun for your grandchildren. But right now, you have to be the meanie.

    Be a meanie….

  36. This is all so true. I know I fall short of the mother I want to be most days but then I wonder if I am setting my standards too high and I’m not sure what they are based on anyway. My mum got frustrated, cross, miserable, she wouldn’t ALWAYS play with us if she had housework to catch up on, I watched a lot of Disney films (fully my choice apparently she did try and make me play games). Mum had good days and bad days, but have I ever thought she is a bad mum? No. So why do I label myself like that? Who knows, I’m blaming the mum guilt.

  37. You are certainly not alone. I have many many dark days and thoughts. And am also only just hanging on by a thread. It’s just so damn hard!

  38. Oh, the guilt. The guilt is real. I feel really bad sometimes for how much I look forward to bedtime – because there are days when I count the minutes. But you’re right, we’re good parents who just have bad days and WE CAN DO THIS. #stayclassymama

  39. I feel like every day I’m doing ‘guilty maths’ at the end of the day lol, +3 points for taking her to soft play, -4 for stressing out when she wouldn’t eat her lunch, another -2 for too much screen time, never seem to come out with a very high score!

  40. This is so relatable. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves to be everything to everyone all the time? And then beat ourselves up when we can’t do that. I agree let’s stop giving ourselves a hard time. It’s ok to have bad days/patches and the fact that we feel guilty about stuff just proves what great mum’s we must be!! #stayclassymama

  41. I feel like you wrote this for me.

    I think this is the “dark side of parenting” that we rarely talk about. We’re all in the same boat on this one, for sure!

    If these are our guiltiest confessions, we’re doing pretty good in this parenting game. Love this. #StayClassyMama

  42. I love your honesty in this post, parenting is so hard without the guilt we all feel getting thrown into the mix. Your are doing your best and that is all us parents can do! Chin up lovely, #stayclassymama

  43. My biggest guilt is that I’ve had to go back to work. I feel terrible about it. Thankfully it’s only 2 days a week but it is such a gut wrenching feeling. I hate it. A very touching #stayclassymama

  44. I’m sure that every good parent has these feelings sometimes. We want to be perfect for our little ones but nobody can be perfect. Especially not all the time. We can only try our best. #StayClassyMama

  45. I needed to read this today after crying on my daughter’s nursery staff about her “behaviour”. I’m a Stay at Home Mum and she goes one day a week and it’s getting worse with me and her, hitting, pushing, biting. feel guilty for shouting. I feel like a failure for not being the calm softly spoken patient mum. I feel like a failure for not being able to handle it. I feel like her behaviour is all my fault. Truth is, this is the shit part of parenting. xx #StayClassyMama

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