The Montfort Group

Imposter Syndrome: The Parenting Edition

In my previous imposter syndrome blog, I tackled the graduate student’s perspective on imposter syndrome. We’ve all felt imposter syndrome before—the creeping feeling of inadequacy that slowly erodes our self-worth. This blog feels even more gut-wrenching to me. Even as I write it, I wonder how others will perceive my truth. Here we go. Welcome to Imposter Syndrome: The Parenting Edition.

My family, like so many others, is uniquely blended together. That is indeed a story for another blog. My family might be one of a kind, but my role certainly isn’t. I’m looking at you, moms. The boo-boo healers, chefs for picky eaters, disciplinarians, playmates, snuggle buddies, snot wipers, tantrum wranglers, hair stylists, dishwashers, M-O-T-H-E-R-S. 

I am a parent who is all in, 100%. But I’m also committed to some other important roles. I wrote my dissertation proposal while making my son’s Halloween costume. Which one turned out better? I’ll give you a hint: when making a mask, please oh please remember to cut out holes for your child’s eyes! I have missed so many cub scout meetings and basketball games that I’m honestly ashamed to admit the final count. Sometimes I pad into the house after a long day, heels in hand. I slip into my son’s room, hoping he might still be awake for just enough time to kiss him goodnight.

The Reality

Like all mothers juggling multiple roles, I’m pretty familiar with guilt. The self-flagellating kind that never stops. I feel ashamed and worried constantly. I wonder when it will all blow up in my face. When will his teacher send him to the school counselor to deal with the drama of an “absent parent”? When will he start to really resent me? When will I truly “mess him up”?

What strikes me more than the feeling itself is how parents still find ways to nitpick and tear each other down. I will never forget the moment when another mother called me out on my busy work schedule with feigned “concern” and overt criticism. Tearing me down seemed to make herself feel better. I felt humiliated and devastated

There is no beautiful, neatly tied-up ending to this particular story, because this imposter syndrome is still complicated for me. The truth is, like everyone else, I’m still trying to put my best foot forward every day. I aim to show up for my son, my family, and myself, and to support other parents in the process. What helps? The moments when my son tells me I’m the hardest worker he knows during our mom-son donut dates. The cherished efforts my family makes to spend real, quality time together. The times when I turn to my husband for support and reassurance, and I offer him the same in return. 

What I’ve Learned

As I work to show myself more compassion, here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

  • The parenting imposter syndrome is universal. None of us know exactly what to do all the time.
  • Fake it ‘til you make it. Kids respond well to confidence, and it’s okay to make up the dance as you go. Guess what? There is no rule book for raising the perfect child.
  • Comparison will consume you. Every child is different, and so is every family system. What works well for one child may have an opposite effect on another.
  • Nothing in this world prepares us for the terrifying, exciting adventure of parenting a child.
  • It gets easier, and it helps to talk to other parents.

As an individual therapist, I can say with full honesty that I am not the perfect parent. But guess what? I don’t expect you to be either. My work comes from a place of constant learning rather than pure expertise.

Here at The Montfort Group, I pull in knowledge from experience, resources, data, and lessons learned. More importantly, I listen to your family’s unique story without judgment. I think we all have enough of that in our lives, don’t you think? Contact us today if you are looking for help with family therapy.

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