You're not alone: overcoming imposter syndrome as a parent

Do you believe that, whatever you do for your children, it is never enough? Do you question every decision you make? Do you worry you’re letting your children down and not doing enough for them to thrive? You doubt your parenting, feel you are inadequate as a mother, and that you will never be good enough for your kids.


This is known as parental imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that causes you to doubt your abilities, leaving you feeling like a fraud despite all the evidence of your skills and accomplishments. It affects your well-being and your confidence getting in the way of you being able to get on and parent your kids.

How does imposter syndrome show up for parents?

  • You constantly compare yourself to other parents, feeling like you’re coming up short.
  • You feel like you’re not doing a good enough job as a parent.
  • You worry that you’re making mistakes and messing up your child’s chances of being well and happy.
  • You feel like you’re faking it – it’s only a matter of time until people find out you don’t know what you’re doing.
  • You avoid social situations where other parents will be because you worry they will judge you.
  • You feel isolated and alone, that you’re the only parent struggling and that no one will understand how you’re feeling.

First, knowing that you are not the only parent feeling like this is essential! It’s all too common. You might be feeling like you’re not hitting the mark, but that doesn’t mean that you are not being good enough. The media constantly bombards us with images of ‘perfect’ families and parents, and social media is not helping. Comparison to other parents can leave you feeling like you’re not doing well. When it comes to perfectionism, you don’t expect your children to be perfect, so why do you expect that you have to be perfect?

Stress can also add to feeling inadequate and doubting yourself. Being a parent can be very stressful, and it doesn’t get any easier when your kids hit the teen years. If you are not getting the support you need from the people around you, your partner, family or friends, it can also really impact your feelings that you’re not a good enough parent.

Parental imposter syndrome is all too common, but the good news is there is something you can do about it. 

  • Remember that you are not alone in feeling like this. Parental imposter syndrome is widespread, and many parents feel the way you do – even ones you might not expect.
  • Share your experiences – talking to someone you trust can help you to feel less alone. Finding out other parents are experiencing this helps to normalise how you’re feeling – it’s not just you – talking about it will help them and you.
  • Challenge that negative voice in your head by focusing on your strengths as a parent. Notice when you’re getting it right! Even if it’s something small like your teen giving you an out-of-the-blue hug or kiss before they plug back into their phone.
  • Try not to compare – it’s pointless! That’s the thing about comparing yourself to others, there’s always going to be someone doing better than you, and there’s always someone doing worse. What is important is how you are doing.  
  • Be kind to yourself – or if that feels like an impossible dream, how about being a bit less mean to yourself on occasion? Remember that your kids are looking to you and learning to look after themselves. Why not show them what self-compassion looks like?
  • You will make mistakes. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, remember? What counts is how you come back from mistakes. Acknowledge you got it wrong, apologise if necessary and then move on.

Finally, seek professional help if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome. I work with parents to help them understand and manage their feelings and to develop coping strategies. I will help you to see the parenting wood for the trees and help you recognise that you’re just the parent your child needs.

If you are struggling to cope with how your child is behaving and how that is making you feel, check out my profile to learn more about how we can work together and get in touch with me by clicking the ‘email me’ button below.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Seaford, East Sussex, BN25
Written by Jennifer Warwick, MSc Psych, BACP Registered | Counsellor and Parenting Expert
Seaford, East Sussex, BN25

I am a BACP registered counsellor working online. I work with people who struggle to balance work, home and family life. People who are constantly rushing, looking after others over themselves and are exhausted as a result. I specialise in relationships, family issues and parenting teens and tweens. Contact me for an introductory chat by phone.

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