Being a parent is the most demanding and rewarding job you’ll ever do. The particular challenges of modern parenting mean that the feeling of overwhelm is the norm and not the exception.
The Added Pressures of Modern Parenting
If you are a parent, you are used to feeling overwhelmed. Most parents today no longer have the luxury of having a full-time parent devoted to caring for the home and children. Even if you have that advantage, there are more moving parts and decisions to make today than your parents had to think about.
For instance, previous generations were more ecologically innocent, so you didn’t have to think about the chemical make-up of your family’s mattresses, or whether the products you bought were packaged with recycled post-consumer waste. Social media can make you feel as if your children are competing for spots at top schools even before they are born. You are more connected via social media but more isolated by time and distance constraints. Private and charter schools can make neighborhood children and their family’s strangers to one another. In past eras, when you left work, you were off. You didn’t have to check your email or field telephone calls during the time you were with your family.
Your children also demand more. Your teenagers receive enticing brochures for summers abroad and postcards of idyllic Ivy League campuses. All your children want an endless list of games and gadgets that cost increasing amounts of money.
Have you felt guilty or inadequate for feeling overwhelmed by your parenting responsibilities?
You are as capable as parents in prior generations. In fact, in many ways, modern parents have more resources and knowledge than their parents had access to.
However, your life is more complex. You have more choices, which means you have to think more. Making decisions can be exhausting, even when you are interested in what you are doing. For your parents, a drive-through dinner was a simple question, “Is it in the budget?” For you, it is complex. Affordability may be one of the criteria you use, but you’re likely to also consider the nutrition and whether they’ve had any other fast food recently. When you add two or three extra considerations to every decision, it is overwhelming.
It’s Difficult to Admit You’re an Overwhelmed Parent
Do you sometimes wonder if you were cut out to have children? The demands of parenting make every good parent feel inadequate some of the time, but few are able to admit they’re an overwhelmed parent. You may worry about being judged by others if you acknowledge those feelings. It may feel like you don’t have the time to even think about your sense of overwhelm. You may fear getting lost in that feeling. If you’re divorced, you may be afraid of losing your children if you admit you feel like you’re drowning. When you do hint at how difficult things can be, family and friends may offer well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful advice rather than just letting you vent.
Feeling overwhelmed doesn’t make you a bad parent. Feeling overwhelmed comes from having too much to do and not enough time to do all the things, all the time, for all the people, in exactly the right way every time. Who can keep that up? No one. And yet you try, because your family means the world to you.
How Therapy Can Help You Feel Less Overwhelmed
Therapy does not magically take away your life responsibilities, unfortunately. But therapy does have a lot of other things to offer the overwhelmed parent to help them feel less frazzled and more grounded.
A wide assortment of skills, from those that enhance communication between you and your partner and you and your child, to managing your inner voice, to setting boundaries with intrusive people or obligations in your life, all can make parenting easier.
Children pick up on their parents’ stress and act it out in their behavior. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your child will feel, which then makes it easier for you to feel more relaxed. And relaxing doesn’t mean lackadaisical parenting. It means not stressing over every decision and being more intentional about your priorities.
The therapists at Affinity know how to help you create a home you want to live in with a family you enjoy. If you want more of the rewards of parenting and less of overwhelm, reach out to us today for life transitions counseling. Positive parenting approaches will make you feel like a pro.