Patterns of communication and unresolved conflict.
Becoming a parent can be one of the biggest physiological and psychological changes in one’s life.
From the day you find out you are expecting, whether through pregnancy or adoption, to the day you finally get to hold the infant or child in your arms, a rollercoaster of emotions occurs. Some will be overwhelmed with joy, others may be anxious and fearful. People may often wonder if they’ll be considered good parents or what a good parent even looks like. Depending on your own upbringing and childhood, the idea of becoming a parent yourself can provoke some triggering moments and make it difficult to navigate the new role going forward.
There’s no doubt that a new skill set will be required for most, regardless if it’s their first or third child. The responsibility to not only take care of the basic necessities of another life on a daily basis but also to raise them in an appropriate social and behavioural manner can be overwhelming. Juggling all these tasks in any individual, and especially in those with previous mental health issues like anxiety or depression, may lead some to need help in coping with the unknowns and challenges they face.
The advancement of social media, blogs, forums, books, and podcasts has also provided a large influx of resources to parents. While this may be helpful to obtain general advice, it can also lead to conflicting and confusing directions towards parenting skills and styles. Even family members may decide to voice their opinion on what they believe your habits should look like. This can often lead to feelings of guilt, shame, stress, anxiety and depression.
At the end of the day, as a parent, you want to provide the best support for your child and sometimes it’s ok to recognize that the task is not at all easy and may require some help.
Challenges faced by parents:
- Obstacles and hurdles faced between partners in sharing opposite viewpoints and parenting styles
- Co-parenting or parenting after separation, loss or divorce
- Trying to keep up with the daily needs of tending to another life
- Financial hardship with new changes to income and expenses
- Changes to one’s daily routine and schedule, such as staying at home now and feeling overwhelmed in planning for new activities
- Lack of sleep or adequate diet due to personal needs not being met
- Physical exhaustion and lack of energy
- Pre-existing medical conditions like depression or anxiety
- New onset of conditions like postpartum depression or C Section recovery
- Birth or pregnancy trauma
- Difficulties faced with a child who may have a physical or intellectual disability
- Lack of social and emotional support by the people around them
How can counselling help?
Whether you’re having a hard time with one particular aspect of parenting, such as sleep training or a child entering into school age, or navigating through the whole role altogether, finding a counsellor who can help identify your strengths, needs, wants, and gaps can help provide support and guidance going forward. It can also help build confidence in identifying why these concerns may be occurring, as well as strategies to identify and cope with them and ways in accepting the role in front of you.
One of the most common forms of emotions parents expression is frustration and irritability in trying to connect with their child’s cues and find a way that both parties understand and respect one another. This can be hard when children are constantly learning how to navigate their own social and emotional development skills. Some parents may feel like they snap at their kids and others feel like they are becoming distant. Recognizing that some change likely needs to be made is already the first step in building into that new or existing role.
Some therapies offered to parents include:
- Individual counselling – this type of one on one therapy often focuses on talk therapy with the parent and allows for a counsellor to identify what particular triggers may be present and how behavioural and emotional feelings play on one another. This is particularly helpful is the parent is also experiencing anxiety, depression, or other forms of mental health concerns themselves that may be limiting their overall outlook and experience. Certain exercises may even be recommended like journaling or finding time for self-care.
- Couples counselling – this form of therapy can help those who are finding it hard to parent together with a partner. By building and strengthening the communication and relationship among the couple, each individual may find that their own parenting skills improve as well.
- Family therapy – often this form of therapy is used with older children where each member of the family has the opportunity to bring up their concerns. Each member can then listen and understand the wants and needs of others and work together to build on stabilizing and improving the overall family dynamic.
- Parenting classes and support groups – these are group centred therapies where people can share their own experiences and learn from others who share similar issues. Often communication skills can be built upon and parents can learn new forms of behavioural or emotional management.
If you’ve recently found out you will become a parent or are currently a parent and looking to find support in navigating through the obstacles before you, consider booking a consult to learn more about how counselling can help you and your family.
GoodTherapy. Get help with for parenting issues. August 2019. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/parenting/get-help
BetterHelp. Parent Counselling. https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/parenting/parent-counseling-parent-child-conflict-win-win/
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