I’m willing to bet that most of us would admit to having been overwhelmed by the (seemingly relentless) demands of our line managers at one time or another. There may well have been periods where that (much eulogised about) work / life balance has been virtually impossible to achieve, with feelings of anxiety (laced with resentment!) having risen to near-seismic proportions.
All things are relative, of course, and so (understandably) opinion would seem to be divided as to which careers generate the most stress, present the biggest challenges or carry the greatest responsibility.
Fulfilling the role of a parent though, must arguably be one of the toughest ‘occupations’ that there is – because the stakes are so incredibly high. Granted, there is no lengthy application or interview process to undergo – and there are very few other roles where ‘no previous experience needed’ might reasonably feature in the advertisement – and yet most of us would probably question just how well we might fare in a routine performance management review! After all, children frequently test their parents’ patience to the limit – typically at a time where they have found that their logistical, problem-solving and diplomacy skills are already ruthlessly under assault – and sometimes, when our head eventually hits the pillow, we simply have to be satisfied with a judgement of ‘good enough’.
The reality, of course, is that very few job descriptions actually give a potential employee a reliable insight into what will be expected of them (once they take up that post) and, by the same token, a number of employers would probably argue that the person who seemed to be such a strong applicant on paper, has not always turned out to be the wisest of appointments.
Returning to the (unadvertised) post of ‘Parent’ though, it is important to realise that ‘one size’ most definitely does not ‘fit all’. Just as each child is very much an individual, parenting styles will inevitably vary too and as long as the best interests of our children are at the heart of our decision making, then I see no reason to be too hard on ourselves. After all, most children simply crave an environment in which they can feel safe, loved, and valued – this being, of course, the very least that they deserve.
Regrettably though, this is not always the case – the abhorrent actions of a reprehensible minority often defying belief.
The devastating story of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes (so widely reported in the media this week) is a powerful (and sickening) example.
Failed by the very people who were meant to protect him, that poor little boy endured unimaginable suffering and his premature, cruel, and senseless death will be on the conscience of a great many people – for a very long time to come.
And rightly so. Because we (as a society) let Arthur down. Badly.
May you finally rest in peace, little man.