It’s natural to feel overwhelmed at times as a parent, especially when we don’t understand why our children behave the way they do and we feel unsure of what to do about it. Talking to a counselor is one of the best things you can do to get the added tools you need as your child grows.
Nothing elicits that subtle nagging belief that you’re doing it all wrong quite like parenting can. There are no perfect parents and even if there were, there are no perfect children to guarantee an idyllic family environment. So, if you’re reading this, you can stop shaming yourself and just know you’re in good company. That being said, there are certain things that can be done to help improve your ability to parent well. The fact that so many parents experience difficulty with their children at some point in their life tells us there are some common denominators as to why parents struggle. Every family is unique, but here are a few issues that most, if not all, parents experience in raising their children. Find educational resources here or get counseling help. Whatever you do, don’t try to go at it alone. There are people and resources that can help.
If you want to accomplish more in life and quicker, don’t get married or have kids. But if you want to become a better, stronger and more whole individual, have a family. Without marriage and children, it’s easy to be whoever we want to be and present whatever persona we want to others. Heck, it’s even easy to fool yourself and hide all your issues when it’s just you on your own. But the real you is never clearer and more in the spotlight than when you’re worst self comes out in marriage and parenting. This sounds horrible, but it is the reason why both marriage and parenting can be such a blessing and a trial.
Parenting not only taxes all your patience, but it has a way of surfacing all your old wounds from your own childhood and revealing all your worst character flaws. It’s easy to project all these issues onto our kids or to fall into a cycle of anger and self-shaming. Either way, improving as parents means we’ll eventually have to tackle some of these long-standing and well-hidden issues in our life.
Imagine teaching your child to ride a bike. At first, you hold on until they get comfortable. Maybe you use training wheels to get them used to balancing. Eventually, you remove the training wheels even though they might not feel ready. You, as the parent, know they’ll have to overcome their anxiety and soon they’ll grow into the next stage. You pace with them, prepare them, and lead them into the next stage of growth.
The concept is simple, but the execution is incredibly hard. Especially in areas where you aren’t too certain of what the next stage is going to look like for your child and more so when the stakes are higher than a scraped knee. For many of us, our children begin to push into the next stage of growth far sooner than we’re ready for them to, and often times far sooner than they are ready themselves. And for others, our children might hold onto us too closely, too afraid to venture out on their own. This is the constant struggle of a parent: knowing when your child is ready to advance, how to prepare them well, and how to let go before either of you feel fully confident.
Practically, what this means is when your child begins to advance in how they emotionally experience their life, they don’t yet have all the tools and capabilities to cope with the increased complexity of those emotions. As a parent, your child will look to you to help them acquire the communication and emotional management skills to handle their new and overwhelming experiences. It’s important that you’re continuing to grow in your own capabilities to do this for yourself. Not only is it good for you personally, but you’ll be more prepared to model good emotional self-care and management for your child.
Let’s be honest, the moment you become a parent, you were forced to stretch yourself thinner than you ever had before. Sleep, time, money, patience, and personal time all became a rare and forgotten commodity. And while your child gets older and you gain more of these things back, the challenges to parenting older children escalate and become more complex as your child takes on a life of their own. Managing their schedule, school, activities, and friendships can all take over your life. It seems it’s impossible to ever get in front of it all, and it can easily feel like you’re always chasing after time to care for yourself.
Parenting well is a challenge even when you’re at your best and you have deep resources to draw upon. But doing so when you have little left in the tank can simply feel like too much to bear. Sometimes, the best parenting move is to learn better ways to take care of yourself with what little time and energy you might have. It might feel like you don’t have fifteen minutes to spare, but being smart and efficient with your time can help you get ahead of the curve and start realizing returns on those self-care investments.
It’s the day most every parent fears. At some point, you will no longer be the greatest influencer in their life. In fact, many children struggle to grow into adults when parents do everything they can to prevent this from happening. In an ideal world, your child will grow into and develop a strong sense of self, values, and boundaries that will anchor them and become their guide as they grow into adulthood. As their parent, you can and ought to be the most influential factor in helping them to develop that foundation. But sooner than you might be comfortable with, your child will become the driver of their own life using the very foundation you helped them build. This is the dream of most every parent, but the transition and the in-between of getting there is often a nightmare.
This transition becomes so much harder when the more powerful influence in your child’s life becomes the friends they have or destructive behaviors that help them find belonging or escape. When this happens, as it does for many parents, your ability to prevent and redirect is already severely diminished. You’ve become the enemy to them in many cases and your words carry less and less weight with them.
If you have a great deal of trust and relational equity with your child or teenager, then this is a wonderful position to be in, and you should certainly leverage that equity as much as possible to help guide and prepare your child for the next stage of growth. But if you lack such a relationship with your child, then it might be helpful to consider counseling simply to create a safe place for your child to grow, but also to help you as the parent learn how to rebuild the trust and relational equity with your child.
A trained counselor can certainly help with the development of your child as well as address any issues they might be experiencing. But don’t underestimate the power of having a counselor help you as the parent be the very best parent you can be. No matter what, it is an indisputable fact that you as the parent will have the greatest and most profound impact on your child for the rest of their life. What kind of impact you want that to be is completely up to you. Reach out to us when you’re ready to invest in yourself, and we can help you get the most out of your parenting.