The joy of holding your baby in your arms for the first time comes at a price — the weight of responsibility you immediately feel to do right by this tiny, beautiful miracle you are cradling. And while that pressure mounts up on new parents, this burden of fear about how we are doing at what is truly life's most important job has mostly been a taboo subject, until now. A brand of wipes is out to change the conversation around parental stress, with a new poll saying 6 in 10 parents felt they flubbed baby's first year... and these media images didn't much help.
As the U.K.'s Independent newspaper reported, a new poll that questioned parents worldwide on their level of on-the-job satisfaction returned some alarming results: More than half of mama and papas around the globe feel stressed, tired, anxious, and, worst of all, like they are "failing" their young children.
As the paper reported, a worldwide poll of 13,064 adults showed the internal state of the average mom or dad to pretty much be at crisis levels, with parents in such countries as Britain, Australia and New Zealand highly self-critical of their own parenting progress.
The poll, conducted by natural baby-wipes maker WaterWipes and also reported by SWNS Digital, noted that 50 percent of respondents weren't typically honest when asked how they were coping with the pressures of family life.
In fact, the site added, four of 10 people surveyed said their lack of straight talk regarding their difficulties stemmed from a fear of being judged by others.
Man! Let's get this straight: This generation of parents is stressed beyond the beyond, and too stressed about being possibly judged about this fact to even admit to it. This, my friends, spells "T-R-0-U-B-L-E" with a capital "T."
Making it all worse, as the Independent noted, is the endless onslaught from the media, trumpeting the seeming trouble-free celebrities who are handling it all better than you (for me, Kate Middleton is a trigger, much as I love, love her. Her clothes are always perfect, her camera takes the best pics, and she seems together 100 percent of the time).
PR Newswire noted that social media adds heavily to parents' feelings of inadequacy, with two-fifths of parents in this poll feeling the pressure to be "perfect" after spending time on sites such as Instagram.
Luckily, WaterWipes as a company decided to make lemons out of lemonade by creating an entire media campaign around the fact that so many of us feel this way (yes, I am including myself, because the pressure and anxiety to do it right and be perfect and handle all the obstacles doesn't go away after the baby's first year, sorry).
“This campaign was a manifestation of that; simply being honest about parenthood," WaterWipes Chief Marketing Officer Cathy Kidd told Marketing Week magazine.
"At the heart of it is the idea that an awful lot of parents across the world, no matter what culture or ethnicity or gender you’re coming from, there’s an expectation that the second you become a parent you know exactly how to do it. We wanted to break that myth and start some conversations that were more about the reality.”
As such, the mag noted that the company has come out with a collection of parenting stories about new parenthood that are part of a 16-minute documentary, This Is Parenthood, directed by BAFTA nominee Lucy Cohen.
The idea of being open about our failures and victories as parents drew celebs Vanessa and Nick Lachey to get involved in the campaign, People magazine reported.
“We all have fails daily and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent,” Vanessa, mother to Phoenix, 2, Brooklyn, 4, and Camden, 6½, told the magazine about her interest in the new campaign.
While the poll shows a shockingly high number of parents are super-stressed, it doesn't truly surprise me. In a world in which top nations don't value work-life balance enough to make family leave and childcare national policy priorities... it is any wonder so many parents are freaked they will fail?
And with this new awareness campaign regarding the fact that parenting is really its own beautiful struggle, these new stats will hopefully only bring about better things.