I believe there is a Parenting Comfort Scale, based upon “instincts” or “gut-feelings,” although I have never seen one referred to in mental health literature.
My invented Scale would be on a 1-to-10 basis. As I introduce this Parenting Comfort Scale, I want to clearly state that our parental instincts ebb and flow, usually depending upon how we view the health and achievement of each of our children. So, one day we may place ourselves on in less than the 5.o range, while the next day we may feel like we have bounced back to a 8.0. However, at the core of our parenting, we fit somewhere on this scale, with the ability to have “good” “bad” and “good enough” days of parenting.
At Level 1.0: Parents are without confidence in their abilities and believe that they have no natural inclinations toward parenting. (Often, parents who have endured childhood’s of abuse or neglect feel that they are incapable of being in attunement with their children: in knowing how to structure and respond to typical parenting of children.
At Level 2.5: These parents second guess themselves for how to provide parenting for their children. They look to others for answers, but have a sense that what others tell them might not be quite right for their child. This is a very difficult place to be in. Wanting to do your best for your child, but fearful that what you think and believe might not be what is best for your child.
(Often parents of newborns wrestle with determining their own parenting instincts vs. what they have read, what family and friends have guessed/recommended, etc. As the infant ages and young parents build an “experiential parenting knowledge,” their ability to gain confidence in their “instincts” rises significantly on this scale.)
At Level 5.0: This parent feels comfortable with the daily routine of raising children, but often experience crisis when behaviors seem to be “not normal” or become fearful. This parent provides stability in routine and expectation. The crisis occurs because the parent does not feel comfortable making decisions about parenting that is outside of the parent’s experience. This Level is often experienced with the first child/only child as the child progresses through developmental stages. Typically, once the child has reached school age and the parent receives positive feedback from teachers, the parent begins to rise on the this scale.
At Level 7.5: Comfortable with their parenting abilities and the satisfied with the progress of their children. These parents typically are involved with their children and looking for ways to enhance their child’s emotional, physical and educational well-being. There can be times of self-doubt, but is somewhat rare, as the parent experiences a positive relationship with child.
(Parents experiencing divorce often feel as though they have lost their ability to provide this Level of parenting. With re-stablization, most parents will be able re-achieve this Level of parenting.)
At Level 10.0: These parents are very confident in their abilities and that they know what is best for their child. They often question the abilities of other adult professionals in their child’s life. Typically they have a difficult time changing their perspective, even when offered documented information.
(There are times that it is imperative that a parent be quite willing to be their child’s determined advocate. This is one of those “bounces” on this Scale. However, the parent who remains determined to protect the child from any hint of negativity, often is unable to use resources for the child. When confronted with the need to look at the child’s negative behaviors, a Level 10 parent will often be overwhelmed with feeling like a complete failure.)
There is no “right way” or “perfection” or “absolutes” in 100% parenting. It is a constant learning experience for everyone. How we view this life’s journey is dependent upon our ability to adapt to new information. What is vital is our support of that Village of children and parents and care takers and grandparents and teachers and all who add to the sum of our child’s world.