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Parenting as a Spectator Sport continued...

Singer has written two books filled with real-world parenting tips -- her latest being Stop Second-Guessing Yourself -- The Toddler Years -- that use humor to remind moms they’re likely doing a better job than they think and, just maybe, we’re all taking ourselves a little too seriously. She says that today's bar for motherhood seems impossibly high.

Deborah Linggi, a communications consultant from San Diego and mother of a 5-year-old son, says the competition among mothers in some circles is palpable. "It used to be," she says, " that Supermom went to work and had kids and kept the house clean. Now it’s trickled into, ‘I breastfed until my kid was 20 and now feed him only organics, take him to piano, soccer, and oh, by the way, I’m a size 6 and my hair always looks great!’" The expectations for moms are unrealistic, she says. Yet we all know women who appear to be meeting them.

Singer suggests that moms looking to gain confidence about their mothering arm themselves with a dose of reality. Comparing yourself to that one perfect mom who seems to be able to do it all is damaging and not a worthy goal. "Supermom is faking it. She is very good at propaganda," Singer says. "The mom who looks completely put together and is baking 100 cupcakes for the school while running the fund-raiser and her own business is exhausted. She’s either employing some help or she’s about to fall apart. You don’t want to aspire to something that is impossible to maintain."

Ignore the Experts (Most of the Time)

With all the expert parenting information available to us today, you’d think as mothers we’d feel well-informed and prepared to raise a brood. But easy access to expert advice has had the opposite effect on Marybeth Hicks, a mother of four children ranging from 11 to 19.

"I felt the worst about my parenting those times when I was sitting in the pediatrician’s office reading articles about all the wonderful parenting you should do -- never yell or tell your child he was bad but rather that he made a poor choice. Then they get into the whole natural food thing and how you should never serve SpaghettiOs. I think we learn to distrust ourselves sitting in the pediatrician’s office reading magazines while waiting for our appointment."

10 Hidden Allergy Hotspots

Do dust mites and mold lurk in your home? See where they hide.
See slideshow