November 28, 2023


Amazing parenting technician

The Curse of Growing up a ‘Good Girl’ – Sarah Ockwell-Smith

3 min read
The Curse of Growing up a ‘Good Girl’ – Sarah Ockwell-Smith

(and how it affects us when we become a mother)

I was a ‘good girl’ growing up.

I was a typical sulky and moody teen, but I never did anything that caused my parents too much heartache. I never got into trouble at school, I was always home before my curfews and I was generally compliant and obedient. My mother struggled with her health throughout my childhood and I regularly assumed a caretaker role; I cooked meals and cleaned the house and usually did what was asked of me without too much fuss.

I grew up learning to hide my feelings, so as not to be a bother. I learned (incorrectly as it turns out) that through my behaviour I was directly responsible for my parents emotions. If I was ‘naughty’ they got angry – and so therefore, their happiness centred on my behaviour. When they were stressed, I learned to not add to their burden any more with my own worries. I kept my emotions to myself and I learned to be resilient, I learned that I was the only person I could trust with my feelings and I learned to not rely on others when I needed help.

Fast forward to adulthood and I fully embodied ‘The Good Girl Caretaker’ role. My whole career has centred on helping others and allowing them to unburden their feelings onto me. I became a chronic people pleaser, scared to have boundaries, taking on more and more and not stopping to consider my own needs.

Then I became a mother and the caretaking ramped up a gear. Everything I did – physically and mentally – was about caring for others. I was constantly reliving my childhood – being good and reliable and caring for others, pushing my own needs aside to do so, getting on with it and not asking for – or accepting – help.

We often mistake being ‘a good girl’ as a positive thing. So many want their daughters to be ‘good’. But it’s not positive – it is toxic. The pressure and weight of constantly burying your feelings and needs in the pursuit of caring for others eats away at you. It gets so very heavy.

What happens when you can no longer carry that weight? You explode. I would shout (and shout and shout and shout). Others get physically ill, or their mental health takes a toll.

Now – if you’re a mother too, your emotional displacement is often directed at your children (or your partner). You become a seriously uncalm mother – and because you’re a ‘good girl’ who doesn’t like upsetting others, you take your apparent failure to be a calm parent to heart – you enter a cycle of blaming yourself and believing you’re not good enough.

But here’s the thing – you ARE good enough, you always were. You just didn’t realise it because your whole life has been about how others feel. Maybe now it’s finally time to take care of yourself?

Recognising that you were (and still are) a ‘good girl’ is a powerful first step to becoming a calmer, happier, parent and, if this post speaks to you then you’re exactly the person I wrote ‘How to be a Calm Parent’ for – it’s out now. Find a local stockist HERE

Maybe see this as a sign that you deserve to be calmer and happier – not for your children, or your partner – but (finally) yourself.

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How to be a Calm Parent is out now – Your guide to lose the guilt, control your anger and tame the stress – for more peaceful and enjoyable parenting and calmer, happier children too

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