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Sniffing Out Parental Anxieties

Advice from Womble the Therapy Dog: It's Okay to Parent!

Hello, friends! Womble the Therapy Dog here, ready to share some tail-wagging wisdom with all you wonderful parents out there. Today, I want to remind you that it’s okay to be a parent! I know, I know, being a parent can be tough, and sometimes it feels like you’re walking a tightrope.

But guess what? Setting rules and boundaries isn’t just okay—it’s essential for your child’s well-being. Let’s dive into why it’s important to embrace your role as a parent, even when it’s challenging.

Sniffing Out Parental Anxieties

Recently I heard a parent at the park say "I shouldn't have to tell them to tidy up after themselves, surely they should just know to do it", then past a school heard "If I say anything I'm just moaning and feel bad like I'm nagging", and at the pub I heard "Rather avoid the argument, it's easier to do it myself". "I'm not sure if I send them to bed early enough", "When should I let them have a phone?"

I’ve noticed that many parents today are anxious about a few key things actually and I thought I would share with you some of my Womble Wonderings:

  1. Fear of Not Being Liked: You want your child to like you and enjoy spending time with you. It’s natural to want to be their friend, but sometimes this can make it hard to enforce rules.

  2. Worry About Being Too Strict: You might worry that setting firm boundaries will make you seem harsh or unkind. You don’t want to be the “bad guy.”

  3. Uncertainty in Decision Making: Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, and it’s easy to second-guess your choices. Am I doing the right thing? Will this decision hurt my child in the long run?

  4. Balancing Act: Juggling work, household responsibilities, and parenting can be overwhelming. Finding the time and energy to consistently enforce rules can feel daunting.

  5. Judgment from Other Parents: There’s often pressure to parent a certain way based on what other parents might think. You might worry about being judged for being too lenient or too strict.

  6. Fear of Being Accused as Controlling or Abusive: Setting boundaries is necessary, but the fear of crossing the line into being seen as controlling or abusive can be a heavy burden.

The Importance of Rules and Boundaries

Just like I need my leash to stay safe on walks, children need rules and boundaries to navigate the world safely. Here’s why it’s okay—and necessary—to set those limits:

  1. Creating Safety: Rules and boundaries provide a sense of security. They let your child know what to expect and what’s expected of them. This predictability helps them feel safe.

  2. Teaching Responsibility: When you set rules, you’re teaching your child about consequences and accountability. These lessons are crucial for their development into responsible adults.

  3. Building Respect: Respect isn’t about fear; it’s about understanding limits and valuing the guidelines set by those who care for us. Your child will learn to respect others’ boundaries by experiencing and respecting their own.

  4. Fostering Independence: Clear boundaries help children develop self-discipline and decision-making skills. They learn to navigate the world within the safety net you’ve created, gradually gaining confidence in their own choices.

Embracing Your Role

It’s important to remember that while I’m man’s best friend, being a parent means you can’t always be your child’s best friend. Here’s how you can embrace your role as a parent:

  1. Set Clear Expectations: Communicate your rules and the reasons behind them. When children understand the “why,” they’re more likely to respect the “what.”

  2. Be Consistent: Consistency helps reinforce boundaries and makes them more effective. If rules change frequently, children can become confused and testing limits becomes more appealing.

  3. Show Unconditional Love: While setting boundaries, ensure your child knows your love for them is unwavering. They need to understand that rules don’t mean you love them any less. If they break a rule, still give them a hug and a kiss goodnight, no matter how mad you might feel.

  4. Accept Discomfort: It’s okay if your child doesn’t always like your decisions. Discomfort is a part of growth, and experiencing it in a safe environment teaches resilience. 

  5. Practice Self-Compassion: Parenting is hard work, and you’re doing your best. Cut yourself some slack and remember that it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

  6. Ignore the Noise: Every parent has their own style, and what works for one family might not work for another. Focus on what’s best for your child and your family, rather than worrying about judgment from others.

  7. Stay Informed: Understanding the difference between being appropriately firm and overly controlling can ease your fears of being perceived as abusive. Educate yourself on positive discipline techniques to feel more confident in your approach.

So, parents, it’s time to wag those tails with confidence! Embrace your role and remember that setting rules and boundaries is an act of love. Your child might not always appreciate it in the moment, but in the long run, they’ll benefit greatly from the structure and security you provide. 

Boundaries will look different in each home and family, it can be good to consider other thoughts and opinions, but trust your gut and what's right for you and yours. It's like comparing bones with tennis balls, they're different!

Being a parent means guiding, nurturing, and sometimes making tough decisions. And that’s okay. You’re not just their friend; you’re their protector and mentor. Keep up the great work, and know that you’re doing an amazing job.

With a wag and a woof,

Womble the Therapy Dog


If you have lingering concerns or worries, consulting with a child professional can be very helpful. At TMH, we also work with parents because supporting the whole family is often the best approach. Please feel free to reach out to us to see how we can assist you and your situation.