Being a Parent is Stressful
Nurturing your mental health
I am not sure I have ever met a parent who has told me they have never had any issues with parenting. Or that parenting is relaxing and stress-free.
The general consensus seems to be that parenting is tough and highly involved. It requires a lot of mental, emotional, and physical resilience to ensure kids grow into the wonderful human beings we want them to be.
It’s not surprising then that parenting can cause a lot of stress, worry, and anxiety for moms and dads.
And it might be just as tough to find helpful guidance on how to manage your mental health as a parent. This is a topic that still carries a lot of stigma. And many parents are afraid that if they admit they have reached their limit, they may be stamped off as bad or incapable parents.
“Parenthood...It's about guiding the next generation, and forgiving the last.”
- Peter Krause
In our latest episode, I spoke with Crystal Haitsma, a connection-based parenting coach.
A New Way to Parent
Crystal uses life coaching to help parents work with a less stressful way to parent their children. And she noticed the positive effect this had on her own children. Her son’s meltdowns became less intense and frequent, which had a positive effect on the whole family.
There are different reasons why parents may find parenting stressful. They may not be confident in their approach. They may also feel triggered by their kids’ behavior and may not like how they react as parents. And sometimes parents may be at a breaking point, where they simply shut down emotionally because the stress is too great.
So, a first step in this approach is to help parents sort out their issues first. This could include identifying any triggers or behaviors that might still be hanging around from childhood. It can also include any negative or limiting beliefs that are affecting who they are as a person and a parent.
Some people will call this inner child work, or shadow work. Whatever the term, it simply means that the work starts within ourselves. We become aware that there is a problem. Instead of looking to our kids to resolve it, we look inward for what can be addressed in ourselves. And whether we want to admit it or not, there may be a lot of emotional tension from how our parents parented us.
Once parents have taken care of themselves and filled their own cup, they are ready to take on their children in a much more holistic way.
The History of Authority Parenting
If we consider some of the history of parenting, it becomes obvious that some problems have existed for generations. Of course, this does not apply to all parents. However, I have experienced a fair share of it myself. It seems that the Baby Boomer generation experienced a lot of their own parental issues.
For example, the “Silent Generation” as it is called, included my grandparents. During that time, very often children were not to be seen or heard. It was not uncommon to dole out physical punishment to children, to ensure they fell in line. Emotional attachment was also often considered weak and harmful to children. Consequently, many parents raised their kids at arm's length.
The Baby Boomers, who were parented by the Silent Generation often experienced a lack of physical and emotional support or connection with their parents. Many also see fear as an acceptable method to parent with because that is how they were raised. And many Baby Boomers have trouble expressing their emotions because it was considered inappropriate.
This is the history that affects nearly all Western parents who are my age now. Generations of parents before them who have tried different things. Interestingly, some of those things would be considered unacceptable or even illegal today. And this parenting environment that has endured for generations no longer works for raising our kids today.
Breaking the Mold
Still, a family is a family and possibly telling your parents that their parenting style sucked might cause a lot of tension. Many parents I know, try to do things differently than their parents did. But, breaking the mold and changing what worked for decades is not easy. There may be opposition and interference from family members. And parents might feel unsure as to which new path to take and how it will affect their children down the road.
Connection-based parenting starts with changing the parents’ behavior, instead of manipulating or correcting their kids’ behavior. Because if parents are not in a good mental space themselves, it will be difficult to find fulfillment in parenting. Parents are shown how to heal themselves first and how to learn the skills to parents effectively. This trickles down to more effective and fulfilling parenting.
Part of connection-based parenting is also finding a balance between all the different hats we have to wear. Moms are often moms, wives, have a full-time job, and still have to take care of the household and maybe even other family members. That’s a lot of responsibilities and finding a way to fulfill them and still have time for self-care can be very challenging.
Getting the right tools and healing some of your own emotional and mental wounds can be a powerful way to move forward with parenting. And although it might be difficult to admit that the process needs to start with ourselves, amazing changes can happen once that realization is accepted.
If you feel like parenting your kids is overwhelming and causes you mental health issues, Crystal’s parenting approach may be of interest to you. I just want to mention that asking for help with parenting your kids is ok. It does not mean you failed or you are a bad parent.
You do not have to do this alone.
In fact, getting the right tools for parenting can make a huge difference for everyone in the family and you will find much more enjoyment in parenting.