How can parents prioritize their own mental health?
We’ve all been there. Physically and mentally exhausted, overwhelmed by schedules and responsibilities. If you’re a parent who’s struggling, Geoff Williams, LPC/S, offered some tips to lower your stress.
Realize you don’t have to be a “super parent.” Parents are often fielding demands across many areas. We must do a better job of giving ourselves permission to be human. Parents can get focused on providing opportunities for their kids that maybe they didn’t have, but kids are going to determine whether they take advantage of those opportunities or not. It needs to be a collaboration.
Pick your battles. You can’t win a battle about something that’s happened, but you can reinforce change. Give kids the space to make mistakes, recover and be forgiven. Talk about it with them, because the sooner you talk about it, the better chance they have of knowing what to do next time.
Communicate your needs. Communication within the family is important. Acknowledge your own need for time and rest and communicate that to your family.
Try not to manage your family. As parents and in our professional lives, we manage a lot of things. But we can’t manage our families. We interact with and develop our families. But when we try to manage our families, it can be polarizing.
Focus on the important stuff. Pay attention to immediate and recurring themes in your child’s life. Many parents think they don’t have to address an issue after they’ve talked about it. That’s not true. A child is a different person at 13 than they were at seven. Going over things across the family lifespan is important. It helps to anchor a family’s values.
Try not to overreact, especially with teens. Adolescents are going through their own developmental challenges that challenge the way they think and react. Don’t overreact to their responses if they’re extreme. Find out what’s at the bottom of them. It could be an underlying depressive illness or bullying that you’re not aware of. They might have a sense of inadequacy because they’ve compared themselves to others and feel like they’ll never reach what’s expected of them. Or they may have an inflated expectation or idea of what you expect from them. So having those conversations and clarifying what’s going on is important.
Get help when you need it. Reach out to your doctor. Don’t let a situation become so deeply rooted that it’s harder to address.
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