By Jackie Saulmon Ramirez | Septembr 30, 2015
Why is being a mother or father so hard? Parenting looks easy – cute, smiling kids – what could possibly go wrong? Parenting is not now or has ever been easy.
Stress is a major factor in any household and it comes from all sides. Financial stress is constant for basic necessities like housing, food, transportation, clothing and medical care. Keeping one’s head above water takes a toll. Unexpected costs like a class trip fee, a car repair or the loss of goods can push back the rent or paying a credit card payment. Those pressures are real and many families do not have any financial cushions. Keeping up appearances or keeping up with the Joneses can also cause pressure to buy things they do not want or need or cannot afford. Loss of employment can compound this stress.
Time is a finite resource. No matter how well parents manage their time – paying bills while talking on the phone, setting appointments while waiting in a checkout line or sending text reminders to kids to meet at a specific time and place – they cannot create more time. Running behind schedule or overcommitted responsibilities cause stress that takes a toll. Some parents are reluctant to ask for help or perhaps do not know who or where to ask. Not being able to say ‘no’ to more commitments can add more stress and resentment.
Isolation can be tough to deal with. When a parent new to an area has young children, getting out and meeting other parents can be difficult. Stepping up and starting conversation or initiating play dates takes courage. Other reasons for isolation could be cultural or gender differences; a stay-at-home father may find fitting in uncomfortable. Ethnic or religious differences could prevent parents from reaching out to others.
Lack of parenting knowledge, about what to do, say or how to discipline in a healthy manner, is a major problem for some parents. Parents who were abused themselves do not have an example to pattern their skills after. Many times, parents are embarrassed to admit they are unsure or need help for parenting.
Illness, physical or mental, can make parenting more difficult. Disabilities, depression or anxiety can severely impact healthy interactions with children and others. Depression or anxiety can prevent a parent from reaching out for help. The Parents Anonymous motto is: “Asking for help is a sign of strength.”
Past abuse as a child can cloud a parent’s thinking and distort how they view their own children. ‘They are pushing my buttons’ or ‘They did it to get on my nerves’ are examples of things a parent may use to rationalize their own abuse. If you or a parent you know was abused as a child, get help before abusing a child. Parents Anonymous can help turn everything around. (Resources below.)
Change in family structure through divorce or death can forever alter life as it was, forcing change. Defining a new pattern of activity can be unnerving for many. After a divorce or death, too often the support social network changes.
Domestic violence is damaging to everyone involved, victimizing an entire household. The focus becomes ‘keeping the abuser happy’ in hopes of avoiding the next outburst.
Drug and alcohol issues creep into families to rob them of money, health and harmony. Users often struggle and do not see or acknowledge the damage caused.
These are only a few stressors that make parenting so difficult. When a parent anywhere experiences any of these issues or others they can look in their local phone book for help or reach out to the resources below for referrals. All parents struggle in daily life but remembering that today is not forever can help.
Here are a few tips from the “I Am A Parents Anonymous Parent” booklet called “The Blue Book.”
• STOP in your tracks. Step back. Sit down. Take a time out for yourself.
• Take five deep breaths. Inhale and count to two, then exhale slowly counting to four. Repeat.
• Count to 10, 50 or 100! Say the alphabet or sing it out loud.
• Phone the local Parents Anonymous® Parent Helpline if one is available.
• Phone another parent from your Parents Anonymous® Group.
• If you are really angry, be sure to give your child some space.
• Look through a magazine, newspaper, photo album, etc.
• Try to tap into your sense of humor.
• Pick up a pencil and write down your thoughts and feelings or keep a journal.
• Remember times when you have been this angry and handled it well.
• Do something that relaxes you.
• Do some physical exercise.
• Close your eyes and visualize a place where everything is calm and perfect.
• Put on headphones and listen to music or a talk.
• Step outside your front door and sit on the steps for a few minutes.
• Dial a toll-free line and talk with someone.
• Do knee bends or leg lifts.
• Do yoga and think positive thoughts.
That little blue book literally saved my life and put me on the right path to better parenting.
Copyright © 2014 Jackie Saulmon Ramirez. All Rights Reserved.
New Jersey 24-Hour Family Helpline: 1-800-THE-KIDS
Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc.
Phone: (609) 585-7666
Fax: (609) 585-7686
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Parents Anonymous® Inc.
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