Self-doubt and parenting: my experience

Like many parents, I experience self-doubt all the time. I’m forever wondering whether I’m doing enough for my kids and if I’m giving them the same kind of happy childhood that I enjoyed.

I often feel that I’m average at best and somehow letting my children down.

Times are tough and modern life is becoming more of a plate-spinning act. As a result, people are getting more stressed and susceptible to depression.

I really hope I’m not just talking about myself there!

So a couple of recent interactions have been both welcome and reassuring. The first was at a bus stop, of all places. An older couple were sat there as we arrived with the kids in tow.

They were a little excitable about the prospect of sitting on the top deck – the kids, that is; if the couple were giddy, they were doing a good job of keeping a lid on it – and I was wary that they might be bordering on mildly annoying to other people.

To my surprise, the lady gave a warm smile and said that they were a credit to us. I was genuinely taken aback. That is to say that I know they’re good kids, of course. I’m incredibly proud of them. I just didn’t expect a stranger to say something so kind about my parenting skills.

A few days later, it was parents’ evening at school. I hadn’t been there at all this school year due to my new job so I wasn’t in the zone as it were.

Again, there was plenty of praise for the boys from their teachers. And both acknowledged the role we had played in their successes. It was another pleasant surprise.

I’ve struggled a lot lately. Starting a new job – which is going really well – has been a shock to the system after four years of working for myself. I suppose I’m still working out who I am now I’m not at home with my family as much anymore.

This has caused a lot of self-doubt. So these recent exchanges have made me feel so much better and kinder to myself as a result.

So I guess the lesson learned here is that, if you find yourself struggling with self-doubt, try looking at yourself from someone else’s point of view. It could make all the difference.

Similarly, if you see a fellow parent looking like they have a lot on their mind, why not pay them a compliment? A little kindness really can go a long way.


  1. John Adams

    Do you know what Tom, I’ve been wondering how I’d find it if I went back into employment now. I hadn’t really thought I might experience self-doubt as a dad but I can see how that might happen. Great post and hope the change to full time office dad isn’t too hard on you.

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