Blog

The Mommy Imposter Syndrome 

Tips from a nonexpert Mom who happens to be a therapist.

7/6/19

I am thrilled to be returning to CT Style for their Mommy Monday segment on July 15, 2019.  This will be the fifth time I appear on this segment, and this time I will be chatting about reactive parenting. For a while, Imposter Syndrome had made an appearance in my life, and I decided to take a little break. In the mental health field, many of us at one time or another experience feeling like a fraud.  This cognitive distortion can  lead to some pretty negative self-talk. We call this Imposter Syndrome. It typically stems from setting high expectations for ourselves, which is followed up with feelings of failure or guilt about success.  I have come to realize is that Imposter Syndrome extends far beyond the realm of mental health and can even extend into the world of parenting. 

Being a Mommy is hard work, and the expectations are very real and can be intimidating. When people would think I had it all figured out, I often found myself discrediting my own work in order to establish a connection. It wasn’t disingenuous. In fact, it was about as real as it got. However, the discrediting part could be done without. Because there’s the thing: There are no experts in the field of Mommy-ing. 

I am no exception to this rule. I would refer to myself more of a NON-expert. I am simply a Mom who loves to learn and loves to share. I also happen to be a therapist, so when I say I like to learn, I mean I like to read nerdy research and better understand what is happening inside our little ones’ brains. But just because I read it, doesn’t mean I can easily live it. In fact, at any given time, you could walk into my house and find me as a single Mom of toddler twins, deeply struggling to regulate my own self. You would probably see me setting expectations a bit too high for 3.5-year-olds, and then dis-regulating when they haven’t met those very high expectations. Is it too much to ask for two toddlers to turn off the tv, put their shoes on, and grab their lunches while Mommy guzzles her coffee, grabs her own lunch, and accidentally gets lost in work emails before the day has even begun? Yes. Yes, it is too much to ask. Do I accept that I’ve asked too much from my own kids and catch myself next time? Sometimes. Sometimes, not so much.

Here’s the thing, at the end of the day, I often remind myself that today’s parenting was “good enough.” Good enough parenting is a phrase used by Glen Cooper, Kent Hoffman and Bert Powell, founder of Circle of Security International. I highly recommend Kent Hoffman’s book Raising a Secure Child as well as Circle of Security’s many information videos available on their website www.circleofsecurityinternational.com. “Good enough parenting is when we can hold on to two things: first, that we are willing to hold onto our children’s best interests and second, that we will mess it up… probably pretty often.” (Hoffman, 2017). 

Hoffman, K. (2017). Raising a secure child: How circle of security parenting can help you nurture your child’s attachment, emotional resilience, and freedom to explore. New York, NY: Guilford Press.