"I won't be a good mother."
Worrying about your parenting skills is a positive sign, according to Diane Ross Glazer, PhD, a psychotherapist in Tarzana, California. "It shows that you want to do a good job," she says. Fortunately, as she points out, "parenting is a conscious activity" -- so you can take steps to turn yourself into the parent you want to be. Books and classes are great resources, and you can learn a lot by talking with other moms.
At the same time, don't lose sight of the unique abilities you bring to the endeavor. "Remind yourself of the challenges you've faced in the past and how often you've risen to the occasion," urges Diane Sanford, PhD, coauthor of Postpartum Survival Guide (New Harbinger, 1994). And keep in mind that you don't need to be an expert on child-rearing at first. Your parenting style develops as your baby grows.
While the prospect of caring for a helpless infant can be daunting, rest assured that you'll likely do better than you think. "Most mothers intuitively understand how to nurture a new baby," says Sanford. "So trust yourself."
Barbara Solomon is a mother of three in Scarsdale, New York.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, March 2004.