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21st Mar 2024

Most parents find it hard to reach society’s expectation of a ‘good parent’

Jody Coffey


“The standards are just too high” for parents

Being parents is by far the most difficult role a person can take on.

There’s no debating that the responsibilities that come with parenthood require patience and commitment of epic proportions.

Sometimes, the challenges of being someone’s mum or dad can be internalised as not being good enough, especially when compared to what society deems as being a ‘good parent’.

A survey by Coyne Research for Aldi Ireland found that 61 per cent of mothers and 42 per cent of fathers feel they come up short in this regard.

Sadly, only a very small percentage of parents (4 per cent) find it very easy to meet societal perceptions and deal with the pressures of being a good parent.

More than half of parent participants (55 per cent) confessed that since becoming a parent, their physical health has declined.

The Mammies and Daddies report also revealed tat two-thirds admitted that parenthood had negatively impacted their finances. 

Speaking on the research findings, columnist Mary McCarthy told Newstalk’s Lunchtime Live that society expects too much from parents. 

“We probably need to reset our own expectations because that survey showed that we’re not living up to societal expectations of parenting,” she told the host. 

“The standards are just too high.”

McCarthy says generational differences also play a role, referencing her own generation who were ‘supposed to have it all’ — a near impossible thing to achieve.

This also includes, she says, the cost of housing, which is ‘higher’ now than when she was growing up.

“I stepped out of the workforce for 10 years,” she confessed. 

“When I became a parent, I knew I couldn’t do it all; I’m not a very organised person and I knew I wouldn’t be able to work and look after the kids.

“I know I was privileged to be able to do that but, having said that, it wasn’t like I had loads of money. 

“We still rent our house as a result of that.” 

These generational shifts have also resulted in new worries for parents, ones that the previous generation didn’t have to factor into parenthood.

“There’s that pressure to limit screen time for your kids and then feed them a healthy diet.

“Primary schools, they’re the same as they were when I went to primary school 40 odd years ago. 

“The hours are the same as they are now but… most mothers didn’t work back then.”

The report is based on a research study of 1,000 mums and dads of kids aged up to 12.