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Five things you’re not supposed to admit about parenting



Life would be so much easier if we would all just admit that parental perfection is impossible (Photo: Shutterstock)

People who don’t have children are the WORST.

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True, I’m largely saying that out of the envy I feel when I look at their happy, carefree, well-rested faces. But it’s also because I still – very vaguely – remember what I was like before my kids arrived in the world.

And man, was I a naive idiot.

I used to assume the posts I’d see from parents on social media – those not-at-all-carefully-choreographed photos of smiling, happy, content families topped with suspiciously mushy messages made up of way too many heart emojis – were a realistic portrayal of life with babies.

Which, of course, they weren’t. As I now know, these posts mostly come from frazzled parents trying to convince themselves they are genuinely living that social media fantasy of young family life (cute cuddles, angelic smiling faces on the first day of big school, “love this boy so much it hurts xxxxxxxxxxx”), rather than the real-life version (screaming tantrums, answering the existential question ‘WHY?’ 743 times a day).

In short, life as a parent is HARD. So – as a father of two small boys (the eldest is nearly three, the youngest is nine months and yes, I AM very tired, thanks for asking) – can I ask that we finally stop pretending that we’re all great, wonderful parents?

Life would be so much easier if we would all just admit that parental perfection is impossible and embrace the occasionally, er, ‘questionable’ thoughts we all have…

Your kid being ill – just a LITTLE bit ill – is actually a blessed relief

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Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a monster.

I’ve had that same panic you’ve had when your kid’s forehead feels like you could fry an egg on it and every little red dot on their torso is absolutely, definitely, 100 percent the first bit of a meningitis rash. I’ve done the late night hospital dash and checked in on my boy every few minutes after he’s gone to bed because he’s got a fever and I simply need to make sure he’s still breathing.

That’s when they’re really sick. Genuinely, properly unwell and you just want to make them feel better. When they are probably operating at 50 percent of their normal, bubbly, (annoyingly) energetic selves. That’s the time to worry.

But what about when they’re at, say, 70-80 percent? When they’re just a bit… MEH. When there’s something hanging around them – The Toddler Malaise, as my brother calls it – but they are clearly in no mortal danger.

When they don’t want to bounce off the walls, but want to cuddle up with you on the sofa. When they don’t want to chase dogs in the park, but just want a little lie down in front of Toy Story.

Show me a parent who doesn’t have a barely discernible smile on their face as they turn the telly on, and I’ll show you a liar.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

You will at some point have decided your child is the devil

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Immediate clarification for anyone from social services reading this: I have never ACTUALLY believed that my child is the son of Satan.

But let’s face it, the mind of a parent whose kid is in the midst of an epic tantrum can be a troubling place.

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Example thought process:

“Maybe I could just leave and go to the pub. Maybe I could just leave and start a new life in Bali. Maybe I could just fill that sink with water and stick my head in there until he either stops screaming or I pass out…”

TV is a brilliant parenting tool and anyone who says otherwise deserves to be locked in a room with a tantrum-throwing toddler for the rest of eternity

If you listen to a certain type of parent, you may end up believing that letting your child watch the telly is like feeding them nothing but McDonalds, raw sugar and mildly diluted vodka.

I have no idea who kicked off the idea that letting your kid watch any form of television is basically selling their soul to the devil and confining them to a life of sofa-surfing, obesity and unemployment.

But I’m pretty sure it’s total nonsense.

If someone has scientific evidence to the contrary, I’m happy to be proven wrong. But the truth is, if your little human watches the decent stuff on CBeebies (as opposed to Love Island/true crime documentaries/porn), it’s probably not going to do them any harm. They might – GASP – even learn a few things.

More importantly, TV is regularly the only thing that can immediately and effectively put an end to one of our toddler’s mega tantrums.

And yes, I know I should be talking him through his emotions and helping him process his anger. And for the record, I do regularly try to do that.

But sometimes, it’s a case of putting on the TV or losing my mind – and I choose sanity.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

All any sane parent wants to hear from other parents is how they too are struggling with their own devil child

If I could implement one rule for parents everywhere, it would be this.

From now on, you are only allowed to tell other parents about the BAD stuff your kids does.

If you’re anything like me, when your toddler has gone off the reservation, you find yourself wondering if their weird behaviour is normal; if other kids could possibly be as utterly bonkers as your own deranged small person.

So when I ask a parent of another kid how their child is doing, the last thing I want to hear is anything remotely positive.

Tell me that you have no control over them. Tell me you are at your wits’ end. Tell me you suspect your little darling might grow up to be a serial killer.

Just don’t tell me how lovely they’re being or how bright they are or what a great time you’re having with them.

Because trust me, that is not what any other parent – most of whom are barely managing to conceal their struggles with their own child – wants to hear.

The unconditional love you feel for your little lunatics in the face of all this madness makes absolutely no sense whatsover

Just in case it wasn’t clear amid all my moaning, I should probably mention that I do ACTUALLY love my two boys more than anything else in the world.

And maybe that’s the bit about parenting that I really should admit a little more often than I do.

Because the fact that I love them as much as I do – despite all the terrible, dreadful, provocative behaviour – is actually a bit of a miracle.

Try throwing your own faeces at me in the middle of the night and see if I have much unconditional love for you …

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