Parent Impostor Syndrome
By Tania Hino
I’m doing just fine! You suck! They are better Stop!
Give up… You’re not patient Nobody likes you
You are a fake! I don’t know…. Idiot!
I am messing up my kids???
Do you ever feel like you do not know what you’re doing with your kids? Do you feel like you do not have enough patience? Do you feel like you are not as good as the other parents? Do you feel like you are supposed to enjoy being a parent all the time but you are not? Do you feel like you are an impostor when you are serving on the board? Do you ever worry that you are not the best co-op parent or that you do not know how to be a co-op parent? Have you had any of these feelings?
These feelings are more common than you think and you are not alone. All parents feel that way about their parenting at one time or another. It’s even harder now than ever before with Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, parenting books and social media in general. You are only seeing what’s being portrayed on the outside and this gives you the sense that you are the only one who is suffering. It is impossible to be a Perfect Parent. Perfect Parents – do not exist. These feelings are natural. It’s called Impostor Syndrome and we all have this syndrome one time or another.
Let’s define impostor syndrome: Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments. Clance and Imes “defined impostor phenomenon as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness (fraud)”.
Over the years, I personally doubted myself many times while raising my children. Even to this day, it crosses my mind periodically. I’ve wondered – Am I messing up my children? Should I be reading more parenting books? Self-talk doubts go on and on…
Many times I will question myself, am I a good parent? I will also compare myself to others and this will trigger more doubts about my parenting. To make matters worse, I started working part-time. The feeling of impostor syndrome multiplied on both ends of my two jobs (as a mother and a paid employee). I had several doubts as to – am I good enough to do both of my jobs? Maybe my kids and life partner need me more at home.
These are natural feelings and everyone at one point or another feels like an impostor in regards to being a parent, at one’s job or while working on a project etc. This feeling is totally normal and affects everyone. However, women and people of color or disadvantaged communities tend to have more of the impostor syndrome feelings in more areas of their lives. For example, a single mom working two jobs to make ends meet may feel much worse than a well off married couple.
Here is how I deal with my impostor syndrome:
BE REAL ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS – it is okay to feel like you do not belong or you are not enough. Accepting your own feelings is the first step.
FIND YOUR STRENGTHS – make a list of what you are good at (i.e. at your work/particular project etc.)
FIND YOUR CHALLENGES – this is a hard one, but be kind to yourself. Make a list of what areas you’d like to improve in regards to your parenting, projects/work etc.
IDENTIFY RESOURCES – in the areas where you need improvement.
LEARN HOW TO DO IT – read books, articles, watch Ted Talks, etc.
WHO CAN GIVE YOU SUPPORT – Find a support group, a non-judgmental parent or a person who listens to you when you are feeling vulnerable and vice versa.
TALK TO YOUR SELF LIKE YOU WOULD TALK TO OTHERS – be kind to yourself and think about what kind of advice you would give to your friend if they were feeling vulnerable. Give yourself that advice.
PRACTICE THE TOOLS LEARNED – practice the tools you have learned with patience and kindness. Make sure you are consistent with the tools for at least 4 weeks to see results.
In reality, we all feel like we do not know enough when it comes to raising our kids – which is true, and that’s good enough. Just be kind to yourself and be ready to feel vulnerable. Acknowledging your impostor syndrome and accepting that you are not perfect will not only help you, it will teach your kids that it’s okay to be imperfect.
Tania Hino is a Parent Educator and MSW, LICSW.
Clance, Pauline Rose. (1985) The Impostor Phenomenon: Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success. Peachtree Pub Ltd