Just imagine if the word "should" was not a part of your vocabulary?
Seriously. Stop. Take a moment of pause. And really consider that.
Now think about all that is attached to that word. The expectation. The weight. The GUILT.
The word “should” has become an ingrained and insidious part of the parental vernacular.
And it is doing our heads in.
"Guilt comes down to looking at your actual self and then comparing that to what you or society thinks you ought to be doing," says Impact Improvements organisational coach Tania Begg.
"It's about self-discrepancy: the actual versus the ideal.
"We take what society thinks is the norm, and what is considered acceptable, and then we see that our actual self is at odds with our ideal self.
"That's where the guilt lies. It's linked to anxiety and irritability and it's all about those things we would call the tribal norm; what's engrained in us"
Tania says it all comes back to that word, "should".
"It's the questioning and the doubt. It's the pressure from what society, or our families, friends, other mothers – and ourselves – all think is right or appropriate."
Psychologist and educator Collett Smart says as parents we are too hard on ourselves.
“I think we often hide our true struggles. We might chat about a tough incident or two and then laugh it off, but I think we often hide the real struggles, because we’re afraid of looking like a failure or being judged,” she says.
“I believe that we are our own worst critics, and ‘should’ is the word our inner judge uses. i.e. You ‘should’ have done it better. You ‘should’ be more patient. You ‘should’ cook differently. Your child ‘should’ be walking/sleeping through/talking/ and so on. The word ‘should’ continues to point back to our own perceived failings.”
Collett says the pressure is both self-imposed and from external sources.
She concedes that advice is fabulous and necessary at times, but that we need to use it as a guide for areas we want to improve on or need support in. Advice should not be used as a measuring stick to measure our failings.