What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

How do I become a confident parent?

By Poppy

How do I become a confident parent?

The best thing about becoming a parent is the undescribed joy of having this little person all for yourselves. Equally, the worst part is the self-doubt, guilt, and uncertainty that forever swarms your new life.

Becoming parents is the best thing in the world, I think anyway. It’s also the scariest, and at times I have found myself longing for a glimpse of our previous life.

I was always an organised person, structured, fairly rational (my husband may disagree on that one), a real goer who threw myself into everything and loved the adventure of life. So I thought I’d enter motherhood with the same confidence and enthusiasm.

Wham, bam, thank you mam- how wrong was I?!

I think the greatest challenge for me has been to continue on with the same confidence knowing every day is not so organised, often unstructured, and completely irrational on several counts (thanks to the rational mind of a 6 month old). I’ve had to accept a new life that often comes with plenty of uncertainties and unpredictability, and this was not the way I once lived!!!

But that all said, I have to admit that as the weeks and months tick by the confidence is returning. In part because I have adapted I guess to new ways of doing things and also becoming more accepting that not everything will be perfectly organised and run to plan. My confidence has also taken a step up again as Penelope gets older and as a family we have worked out how to get to places on time, how to do the chores as well as the fun things again.

There is no doubt that at 6 months things get a little less tiresome. Not as many breast feeds a day, more regular sleeps, much more play time and smiles. Penelope really knows us now and being greeted with a smile and reaching arms is surely the best way to make your confidence soar once more.

Your old life never fully returns, but it certainly does in part. You do have more time for yourself once more (I can actually finish a book in a month, not 5 months) and your old confidence gradually returns. Ben and I describe the experience now as ‘a confidence booster’. With a baby comes new found confidence, it just takes time and patience. 


WWWT MCHN, Sue Doogan:

Thank you Poppy for such an insightful account regarding your new found confidence and mothering. The topic of confidence would come up daily (a number of times a day sometimes) for the majority of parents I see- particularly first time parents. It doesn’t matter what your professional background was before the birth of your child or how many books/websites/family you read or spoke to –it is something everyone has to go through.

The biggest hurdle I find for the majority of new parents is determining:

  1. The things in your life that will NEVER be the same again or at least for some time (for example, being able to grab your wallet & keys & run out the door at a moments notice)
  2. The things that CAN be done but just in a different way (like fitting in exercise, just at a different time)
  3. Situations that you will now experience (and never thought you would) because of having your baby like the smiles and reaching arms of your baby that Poppy mentions

Once you have determined this, both as an individual and as a couple, you need to reconcile with the changes. Constantly thinking or looking back at “before children, I used to …………” will slow you down, hindering your confidence & in turn your enjoyment of parenthood.

I must mention too, that it is ok if you and your partner are confident in different areas of parenting. Or your rate of gaining confidence differs.  In our working/personal lives we all have areas of strength. If each parent is able to guide & model to their child such areas of strength – imagine this next generation!

You might like to read over a number of activities in the WWWT Resource in particular “Losses and Gains” As Poppy points out, parenting is so much more satisfying as your confidence in your own and your partner’s ability becomes evident in the care of your baby.

You, your partner and your baby are all growing, learning and gaining confidence together in areas you never thought existed – EMBRACE it and ENJOY it!

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