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DEALING WITH PARENTAL STRESS
by Katrina Christie, MeD., LCPC
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Today’s cost-of-living no longer permits the stay-at-home mom to successfully manage the household and the children. Instead, mom, the proverbial home maker and family manger, has become a bread winner as well. The more roles mom (or dad) must juggle the less time there is to juggle them. In spite of the many commitments in the modern family, it’s important to remember that children, from toddler to teen, are still children. To become healthy adults they need to feel secure as children. Security comes from feeling loved but equally important security comes from structure. The stay-at-home mom of the past generations could readily provide both. Juggling today's responsibilities complicates life and adds the STRESS response.

So what are we to do as parents? The rewards of parenthood can easily be offset by the hustle and bustle of daily living. While being a full-time mom and working full time seems stressful and difficult, it's not impossible. The key is to examine our life and do a little (or a lot) restructuring. Start by doing an assessment of where we are and what we need to do. It involves:

Approaching stress. Identifying Our Current Reactions to the Situation – How do we approach stressful situations? Is our current method a constructive response or are we actually complicating matters and planting destructive seeds.

Improve behavioral reactions. Controlling Those Emotional Reactions – Realize how we react actually is our choice. We have the option to respond calmly and rationally or  in haste we may over-react and add to the anxiety often associated with being stressed.

Developing coping techniques to help deal effectively with difficult and testing situations. Physical Coping Skills – Breaking ourselves from any bad habit is difficult at first, but with practice developing and maintaining appropriate responses becomes the new habit.

First and foremost we suggest couples assume equal responsibility in father_raising_children.jpgboth raising the children and dividing household responsibilities. Second, it’s okay to share those responsibilities with the children. They can prep an occasional meal, clean the table, mow the lawn, do a load of laundry or help paint a room. Giving them a share in maintaining a functioning household not only teaches them responsibility but makes them actually feel as contributors in the family well-being. Third family communication must be opened. We are now in a world of electronic communication where face to face human interaction is becoming a lost art.

How can you lower stress and improve family dynamics? Where do you start? Here are six areas you should review:

o Organization – get it together. Decide what needs to be done and who needs to do it.

o Time management – prioritize. Once check lists are created decide when it should be done. The top of the list has to be the items that are a must. It may take a few weeks to work out the bugs but once done the stress lessens.

o Flexibility – If things don’t quite go as planned don’t get flustered. While you are feeling the stress and want to change things others in the family may not feel the same way. Remember this is about you feeling better and making personal changes can accomplish that and sorting it out will go a long way.

o Humor and Acceptance – you love your family and their quirks are what make them special. When calm one can easily enjoy that individuality and see the bright side.

o Communication – sincere communication comes when one can openly express their feelings and thoughts in rational manner. Talk about your joys and frustrations calmly. It helps the entire family unit.

o Self-care – go ahead and pamper yourself once in a while. You deserve it.

That beingfamily_counseling.jpg said there are times when the regaining control is no longer easily attainable. A counselor experienced in family counseling can help restore order. A family coach can bring back the sanity and help everyone rediscover the joys of family.