My child is struggling (anxiety, outbursts, tantrums, anger, depression, self-esteem) and I don’t know how to help.
I’ve asked them 50 times to do their chores and they aren’t listening to me – and now they’re getting older and are back talking and challenging my authority.
I always said I would be better at parenting than my parents were, but I now feel like that was a pipe dream and I’m doing this all wrong – maybe even worse than my parents were with me!
First, let’s be clear… Parenting is hard and it’s normal to feel exasperated and inadequate!
It’s hard enough to take care of ourselves, let alone being responsible for other humans. The fact you’re even here reading this page says that you’re doing a lot right because you are being mindful and proactive. At the end of the day, we are all trying to do the best we can – we’re going to have some wins and make some major mistakes, but a good parent is going to be aware, stay grounded, and work on the stuff that needs work.
Social media doesn’t help any parent feel more adequate either. While there are a ton of helpful tools, there are so many visions highlighting all the perfect parent scenarios, which can actually highlight the disconnect from what your home life looks like compared to theirs.
Feeling angry is totally normal – and very common! Anger because it’s a natural stress response but it’s a secondary emotion. Underneath your anger could be feelings of overwhelm, hurt, loneliness, fear, jealousy, and guilt – among a hundred other emotions at any given point in the day.
Know that as a parent, you are to nurture and guide, but NOT to control. These little humans and blossoming adults are following their own free-will. The best you can do is be one of the voices of reason they choose to hear instead of block out.
Help your child process their big emotions by staying grounded yourself.
Many people come in to help their children, but one of the best things you can do as a parent is to process what is getting triggered within yourself first. Individual therapy can help you get a better handle on your own emotions so you can in turn help your child more effectively while they’re working out their big emotions.
Our primary approach in parenting work is to help parents understand their own attachment patterns and how they could be showing up in their parenting role. According to Pia Mellody, a pioneer in the field of understanding the effects of childhood trauma on emotional development, the biggest job as parents is to affirm, nurture, and set boundaries. These are the foundation of a “functional” attachment pattern, where the energy of the parent flows to the child.
We also help parents understand the stages of early childhood development and teach tools like leaning in with empathy during difficult situations. Let them know you understand their big feelings and show them that you care without giving in to their demands.
Bottom line, being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have.
If you would like support while navigating this tumultuous yet rewarding journey, please don’t hesitate to get that support. Therapy can provide a safe and cathartic space to laugh at the shenanigans while finding efficient solutions to help you show up consistently as the parent you want to be. We have a number of therapists on our team who specialize in this area, and we’d love to set you up with a complimentary consultation call – reach out today! (480) 485-8824.