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The challenges, rewards of motherhood

In celebration of Mother’s Day, we asked moms from across the region to share their biggest challenges as parents and how they have overcome them

Motherhood is both the best job in the world and also one of the hardest, social psychologist and author Susan Newman said.

“For mothers, guilt is the biggest challenge,” said Newman, who blogs for Psychology Today Magazine and has most recently written “The Case for the Only Child: Your Essential Guide.” She said an estimated 92 percent of all mothers feel judged in some way.

“You need to give yourself a break and trust yourself and your choices,” she advised. “You and your children will be happier.”

Newman says every mother she knows has been exposed to some sort of criticism at some point.

“And that judgment leads to many mothers feeling guilty,” she said. “It isn’t just the day-to-day difficulties — the colicky baby, the teen who defies you — it’s also the scrutiny and judgment from others.”

Newman, who lives in New Jersey, says everyone seems to have an opinion or criticism of our mothering style. Some examples? If you have one child, relatives and perfect strangers tell you your child needs a sibling. If your toddler won’t share, a friend will say it’s because you don’t make him. When your 7-year-old refuses to go to bed or your teen drinks or becomes addicted, you are told you are/were too lenient.

Other frequently heard comments: “You shouldn’t be working.” “You put your children to bed too early — or too late.” “You don’t make her try new foods.”

Newman cautions that perfect isn’t possible and that parenting mistakes are part of the mothering territory.

“But there are millions of ways to be a “good enough” mom for your family and for your children and that is all a mother can hope for or should strive for,” she said. “You want to be supportive, to be there when a child is ill, to love your child unconditionally.”

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