This parenting stuff is hard work!
Sure, the dreams you had about parenting before you had kids weren’t all rainbows and butterflies. You weren’t completely naïve…you had some sense of awareness that this job wasn’t going to be like it looks in Parents Magazine. But did you ever imagine it was going to be this hard?
Perhaps you have just experienced the dissolution of the dream of taking your sweet baby home from the hospital, when the anticipated sheer bliss of the newborn phase turned into exhaustion, overwhelm and a general sense of losing the core of who you really were.
Or maybe you are currently experiencing the “terrible twos” and you find yourself arguing almost constantly with an illogical opponent. Though in the past you may have vowed that you’d never let a child control you, you now understand why and how people can ignore their screaming children without a second thought.
And if you survived those two phases and have made it to the preschool years, you may have been optimistic that it would all just get better with time. If you’re lucky, you may not be experiencing the sleep deprivation associated with the newborn phase (although plenty of parents of preschoolers still aren’t getting a full night’s sleep each night) or the illogical arguments of the two-year-old phase. But unfortunately, many parents at this phase are still experiencing overall exhaustion from seemingly endless power struggles, defiant behaviors, aggression, and overall attitude problems. To add to it, these behaviors can create co-parenting disagreements and challenges, conflict with extended family, and mental health challenges in the parent who is attempting to deal with the stresses of parenting in addition to the other stresses and responsibilities of life.
Many parents are embarrassed to admit it out loud, but they cannot believe that their life has turned out this way. They feel (unpleasantly) surprised by the challenges that parenting has brought to them, with no real plan to make things better, despite countless hours of researching in books and online for how to survive their current parenting crisis.
These parents feel stuck and might be asking themselves, “Is this my life? Is this what I have to look forward to from now on?” These challenges, when left unresolved, trickle into the teenage years, a time when parents already feel like their child lives in a different world and speaks a different language. These teenage years are hard enough without these unresolved parent-child challenges from the earlier years.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your role as a parent, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with you. You’re feeling the typical stress, overwhelm and/or exhaustion of parenting. This is an acceptable and natural way to feel. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent or that you don’t love your children enough.
Your child’s behaviors and attitude aren’t necessarily your fault (despite what your extended family members say about you behind your back…or in some cases, right to your face!). And while you are not to blame for your kid’s behaviors, there’s plenty that you can try to establish a more comfortable and enjoyable life with your child and family.
At Encompass, our therapists are knowledgeable in child development from the infant and early childhood years all the way to those confusing teenage years. If you’re struggling with your role as a parent in any one of these phases of parenting, we’re here to help. Depending on the age of your child, we will connect you with the right therapist for you who understands the challenges you and your child are facing at this phase of life. You’ll receive practical and manageable guidance to create a more enjoyable life for you and your entire family.
Emily Learing, LMFT, RPT
Emily has specific training in treating the emotional and behavioral challenges of infants, toddlers and preschoolers and provides consultation and training to childcare and preschool programs as part of her role at Encompass. Beyond that, Emily is a mom to two children in this age-range, so she is currently figuring out how to balance life as a working mom to young kiddos, just like you!
Sara Kuehler, LPC
Sara works extensively with tweens and teens who struggle with challenges such as anxiety, depression, friendship conflict and family conflict. She understands the “all or nothing” thinking habits of this age-group and can help you to better connect with your child by learning how to speak their language. She spends her days engaging with this age-group and can share some of her insights with you to help you achieve your tween and teen parenting goals.
Angie Rotter, NCC, LPC-MH, QMHP
Angie has more than 10 years of experience working with children and adolescents with behavior challenges and traumatic experiences. She has spent her career helping kids and adolescents who struggle with aggression, defiance/opposition or other conduct problems and she can help you to manage some of the severe behaviors you’re experiencing with your child within your family. Angie is a parent herself and recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all solution and is here to help you develop the right solution for your parenting style.