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Wednesday, October 21, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Parenting comes in many shapes

Carolyn Hax Washington Post

While I’m away, readers give the advice.

On ambivalence about parenthood: I have an odd but maybe useful perspective. I’m over 40 and don’t have children – but friends do. I can’t tell you how many of them have cried to me about how guilty they felt because they weren’t “natural” parents when everyone else was – and by that I mean they felt ashamed about everything from not breast-feeding to having drugs during delivery to having a mix of feelings instead of pure joy about their kids.

I think they feel safe telling me, because I’m not a parent. But “everyone else” was often in the same boat, because, well, they too were in tears to me about how they didn’t really feel what they were so sure everyone else did.

It’s ridiculous that we’ve created this sense of shame around not being the “perfect” parent, which, by the way, I just don’t think exists.

And the more people are afraid to talk about it, the more other people don’t know that anyone else feels the way they do. – S. in Chicago

Parental ambivalence, continued: Adjusting to parenthood, it helps to remember that you aren’t having a baby, you are having a person. Who is this person? How will this person know I love him/her? What can this little person learn from me? That simple awareness makes the crying and feeding and responsibility of infancy through teens much easier to cope with, organize and enjoy.

I heard about a man who had his teen sons raise cows, milk them, sell dairy products, etc. They weren’t the best-kept cows, and it wasn’t the best-run dairy. Someone commented that he could have done it better himself. He replied, “I’m not raising cows. I’m raising men.” – Happy Northwest Mom

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, or chat with her online at 9 a.m. each Friday at www.washington post.com.
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