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Parenting with Mixed Emotions: Coping with Ambivalence in Parenthood

Alexandra Paez-Ferreira | Mar 29, 2023

Parenthood is often portrayed as a time of unbridled joy and fulfillment, but for many parents, it's not that simple. Ambivalence, or conflicting emotions, is a common experience for new parents and can lead to feelings of guilt or shame. However, it's important to recognize that ambivalence is a normal part of the parenting experience and that there are ways to cope with these complex emotions.


Ambivalence in parenthood can manifest in a variety of ways. Some parents may feel overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, while others may feel a sense of loss for their previous life before having children. Additionally, parents may experience conflicting emotions towards their child, such as love and resentment, or may feel unsure about their ability to parent effectively. It's important to recognize that ambivalence is a normal part of the parenting experience and that it doesn't mean that a parent doesn't love their child or is a bad parent. Parenthood is a complex and often challenging experience, and it's okay to have conflicting emotions about it.


One way to cope with ambivalence in parenthood is to talk about it with others. This can be a difficult step, as there is often a stigma attached to admitting that one is struggling as a parent. However, talking to a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional can help to alleviate feelings of guilt or shame and provide support and validation. Another way to cope with ambivalence in parenthood is to practice self-care. This can include taking time for oneself, pursuing hobbies or interests, and seeking out activities that provide a sense of fulfillment outside of parenting.


Finally, it's important to recognize that parenting is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Every parent and child is unique, and what works for one family may not work for another. It's okay to make mistakes and to try different approaches to parenting in order to find what works best for oneself and one's child.


In conclusion, ambivalence in parenthood is a normal and common experience. It's important for parents to recognize that they're not alone in experiencing conflicting emotions and to seek out support and self-care in order to cope with these feelings. Parenthood is a complex and challenging experience, but with the right resources and mindset, it can also be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling.

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