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Understanding the Inner Critic: Why Do I Feel Like a Bad Mom?

Emily Turinas

4 min read

May 13



Motherhood is often depicted as a blissful journey filled with love, laughter, and endless moments of joy... and sometimes it is. However, in reality, motherhood often is filled with chaotic moments, challenging situations, and uncertainties at every corner. Amidst the highs and lows of parenting, it's not uncommon for moms to experience moments of self-doubt, guilt, and inadequacy. Sometimes these thoughts lead us to ask ourselves: "Why do I feel like a bad mom?" Here, I want to delve into the underlying factors contributing to these feelings and offer insights and strategies for overcoming the inner critic and embracing the complexities of motherhood with compassion and grace.

why do i Feel Like a Bad Mom

Understanding the Inner Critic

The feeling of being a "bad mom" often stems from the relentless inner critic—the voice within that magnifies perceived shortcomings and mistakes, leading to feelings of guilt, shame, and inadequacy. This inner critic is fueled by unrealistic societal expectations, comparison to idealized portrayals of motherhood, and the relentless pressure to be "perfect" in all aspects of parenting (thanks, Instagram). Whether it's struggling to balance work and family life, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of caregiving, or experiencing moments of frustration or impatience, the inner critic can amplify these feelings and distort our perception of our parenting abilities.

Exploring Root Causes: Why Do I Feel Like a Bad Mom?

To address feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, it's essential to explore the root causes underlying these emotions. For many mothers, past experiences, upbringing, and societal norms play a significant role in shaping their beliefs about motherhood and self-worth. As mentioned above, all that middle-of-the-night Instagram scrolling may not be doing you any favors. However, these thoughts are likely rooted back as early as your own childhood. Think about the messaging you got growing up about what made a good mother. What was expected of your mom? Or even in what ways did your mom or others fail that you are working to not repeat? Additionally, unresolved trauma, perfectionism, and unrealistic expectations can further fuel feelings of inadequacy and self-criticism.

We also have to think about societal pressures and cultural expectations. Yes, it is wonderful that women have more opportunities to work outside the home and be boss babes, but somehow most of our household duties are still expected of us. The idea of "having it all" is wonderful and empowering... if we have realistic expectations. Having it all does not mean doing everything perfectly on your own or all at once. We need to put in check the idea of perfectionism in all aspects of our life (perfect moms do not exist) and find the balance that works for you and your family!

Challenging the Inner Critic

Overcoming the feeling of being a "bad mom" requires challenging the inner critic and cultivating self-compassion and self-acceptance. Rather than striving for perfection, it's essential to embrace the messiness and imperfections of motherhood as part of the journey. Remember a messy house does not make you a terrible mother. This involves reframing negative self-talk, acknowledging and validating one's efforts and strengths as a mother, and practicing self-compassion in moments of difficulty or struggle.

Strategies for Cultivating Self-Compassion

  • Practice mindfulness: Cultivate awareness of your thoughts and emotions without judgment, allowing yourself to experience them with kindness and curiosity.

  • Challenge unrealistic expectations: Recognize that perfection is unattainable and that every motherhood journey is unique. Let go of comparisons and embrace your own path.

  • Seek support: Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends, family, or fellow moms who can offer empathy, validation, and encouragement. Fill your social media with realistic mom examples!

  • Prioritize self-care: Make time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul, whether it's exercise, hobbies, or simply taking a moment to breathe and recharge. Now this is easier said than done, but finding albeit creative ways to prioritize yourself is crucial, even if it is just listening to your favorite podcast while taking your baby on a walk.

  • Practice self-compassionate parenting: Extend the same kindness and understanding to yourself that you would to your child, recognizing that mistakes are opportunities for growth and learning.

How Do I Know if I Need Professional Support (i.e., Therapy)?

Recognizing when therapy might help is a crucial step in navigating the challenges of motherhood and overcoming feelings of inadequacy. According to the American Psychological Association, up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, and many more face anxiety and other emotional struggles during the postpartum period. Therapy can be beneficial for mothers who find themselves overwhelmed by the demands of parenting, struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety, experiencing unresolved trauma or emotional wounds, or grappling with relationship dynamics or identity shifts. Additionally, therapy can provide a supportive space for mothers to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences, gain insight into their patterns and behaviors, and develop coping strategies and skills for managing stress, fostering self-care, and enhancing communication. Whether seeking individual therapy, group counseling, or family therapy, reaching out for professional support can empower you to prioritize your well-being, cultivate resilience, and navigate the complexities of motherhood with greater confidence and self-awareness.

A safe rule to follow is if your thoughts are causing significant distress and lasting more than two weeks, it might be time to reach out and talk with someone. Remember, you are not alone, and you are doing the best you can with the resources and support available to you. Embrace the journey of motherhood with compassion, knowing that imperfection is part of what makes you a beautifully imperfect and loving mother.

Perinatal Psychologist

If you are interested in gaining professional support during your postpartum journey, feel free to learn more about Emily Turinas PhD and see if she is a good fit for you. She is a perinatal psychologist who specializes in therapy for new moms & dads, those on a fertility journey, and pregnant mamas in Austin, Texas & Denver, Colorado. Schedule a free consultation today to see how Dr. Turinas could help you build clarity and direction in the chaos of parenthood.

Emily Turinas

4 min read

May 13





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Emily Turinas PhD


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