People don’t say that parenting is the hardest job for no reason. It’s a job where the stakes feel very high. You want to do your best to give your kids a great upbringing where they know they are loved, they turn out to be good responsible people and you end up with a nice relationship at the end of the rainbow. But getting there is a journey full of booby traps—what is the right balance of understanding and limits? How involved is too involved? Are you helping them or holding them back from handling problems on their own? How do you deal with the barrage of other influences—grandparents, culture, your friends, their friends, TV, technology? Maybe you are tired of struggling to get out of the house in the morning without fights. Or the dinner hour has become anything but a relaxing time for the family to unwind. How do you not to beat yourself up with guilt if child #1 gets a ‘C’ in Algebra or child #2 has tantrums at the food store and maybe child #3 won’t sleep in his own bed at night? Did you not have the perfect birth experience and will that forever ruin your bonding? Did you work too much out of the house or not enough? And, to pile on, how do you do your best to manage the above and still try to have time and energy left over for your relationship with your partner? I forgot to mention that sometimes you have to manage all this while being sick or sleep deprived or trying to deal with the stress of everyday life. From the moment a child is born and you become a parent your life is forever changed. And the difficult decisions come early and don’t stop. And the fear that you are not doing the best to meet the challenges or that it seems so easy for other families you see or hear about can bring such a sense of shame or failure to some people.
You aren’t the only parent who feels this way. I’ve helped many people who’ve struggled with similar challenges. It’s a testament to how much you love and want to do right by your children to reach out and get support or to learn some new strategies.
Sometimes there are stumbling blocks to making an appointment for parenting counseling…
“Plenty of people have children and don’t need parenting counseling.
Am I so bad that I need professional help?”
It’s not always a question of ‘needing’ help but more a desire to make things better than they are. Most parents are very competent in some areas but may struggle with others. Sometimes seeking help earlier may be a proactive way to avoid letting a problem become a crisis. People come to see me for support or just to get through a rough patch. It doesn’t mean there is a mental health problem to deal with or that long term parenting counseling is needed. There are also people out there who are struggling but hide it or don’t know how to reach out for help. That doesn’t have to be you.
“It’s embarrassing to talk about parenting struggles and I’m afraid of being judged.”
I understand this very well, I’ve been a parent myself for 17 years and have counseled families for 16 years. I’ve seen and experienced all kinds of issues and have a lot of compassion for parents who are having one struggle or another. It takes courage to admit there are issues that could be addressed and to do so is a sign of strength not weakness. How is it better to keep struggling and stay stuck in patterns that aren’t working? It is also very good modeling for children to see that their parents don’t have all the answers in life and that it is healthy to reach out to others at times.
“How is parenting counseling any better than talking to a friend?”
Well, talking to a friend can be very helpful but friends are different than therapists. I am someone outside the immediate circle of your life. I can provide an objective perspective that a friend can’t. Also, friends may censor themselves for all sorts of personal reasons. Or a friend may be trying to tread water with their own parenting and not be able to give you the benefit of the years of training and experience that I’ve had. Working in a preschool for several years, first as an assistant teacher then teacher, gave me some very useful skills working with young children prior to my becoming a counselor. I also worked with families early in my counseling career doing grant work designed to prevent child abuse. I sought additional training at Virginia Tech’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program while completing my post-masters graduate work. So I have come to appreciate the potential of parents and know that we all have strengths and challenges but that investing the time and energy to strengthen those relationship and skills is beneficial for parent and child alike.
There’s no need to continue going it alone. Call me today for a free 20 minute phone consultation. You may also email me with any questions you have about parenting counseling or if you would like to set up an appointment.