Well, at least British moms do. Netmums, a British website, recently released a survey of about 5,000 moms who answered questions online about the pressures of parenting.
About a third of the moms surveyed said that they were less than truthful when it came to talking to other moms about their own parenting issues. The kinds of things they were less than truthful about?
Coping in general (69% were less than truthful)
Coping financially (46% were less than truthful)
Time spent playing with children (20.6% were less than truthful)
Time kids spend watching TV (23% were less than truthful)
Food you feed your kids (17% were less than truthful)
Sex life (13.6% were less than truthful)
Moms were more truthful about the amount they’re drinking, time spent on computer games, and when they go to bed.
Interestingly, 64% of the moms surveyed said that it’s impossible to be a perfect parent. Yet, 41% said that they feel guilty about not being able to be the perfect parent. Many felt that their life circumstances were preventing them from being perfect parents, blaming issues such as debt or financial pressures, lack of work/life balance, and not having enough family nearby.
While most of the moms surveyed didn’t consider anyone to be a “perfect parent,” many still felt that others were doing a better job of parenting than they themselves were doing. 75% said that they compare themselves with their friends, and 54% compare themselves to relatives, such as mothers, grandmothers and sisters-in-law. Only 6% said that they compared themselves to celebrity moms, and only 8% said that they don’t compare themselves to other moms at all. Moms typically rated their friends as better parents than themselves.
Some of the moms commented that they were happier when they could acknowledge their limits and be a “good enough” parent, while others were feeling pressure to be the best parent possible. Many said that other parents are too quick to be judgmental. (Nah! Really?)
The survey identified mental health issues as a more common problem among those who were either stay-at-home moms, unemployed, or looking for work. The researchers speculate that some people had stopped working because they were unwell, or that some women became unwell after being at home, because they found themselves isolated and struggling with the significant changes in their lives.
Interestingly, those with lower incomes were less likely to compare themselves with other mothers. However, relationship problems and depression were more likely to get in the way of parenting for those with lower incomes. Not surprisingly, those with higher income levels said that work often gets in the way of spending time with their children.
Netmums concludes: Be honest. Parents need both friends to provide emotional support and the opportunity to talk about the things that are causing stress without being worried about being judged.
I’ll drink to that! (And I’m not gonna lie about how many drinks I’ve had, either.)