It’s hard to find time and energy to make an intake appointment and start regularly attending therapy appointments. That doesn’t even take into account that it can be hard to justify As a busy mom of two who is also running a business, trust me when I say I hear you and can relate!
Your children are probably your top priority. You spend most of your time worrying about how you can best support your family and how to meet your child’s needs. Yet…you are human and even mom’s need a little help sometimes. Counseling can be an amazing source of support for parents and can help you become the best version of yourself. And isn’t it ultimately in your family’s best interest that you feel like the best version of yourself?
It seems like everyone wants something different from you. Because you wear so many “hats” it’s like there’s always at least one falling off your head! If you take a day off work to be with your sick kiddo, you worry your coworkers will think you’re a slacker. Maybe you feel like a bad mom if you go out with your friends. Or maybe you’re starting to resent your spouse or single friends.
These are just a few of the times a mother might feel role strain. It’s hard as a woman, particularly as a mother, to balance all of the roles in your life. In fact, you may never feel fully confident about the decisions you make because you already wonder if you’re letting someone down. I remember when I was newly married and feeling stressed just trying to balance work, my role as a big sister (my younger sister lived with us) and my new marriage. I felt stressed at the time and my kind boss explained that there would always be one are of my life that I felt like I was neglecting. She explained that some days she was a good doctor. Other days she was a good life. If she was lucky she felt like she was succeeding as a mother. But she never felt like all of those areas were perfectly balanced and attended to.
This feeling is stressful. While I agree with my boss that you will never feel like your life is perfectly balanced, I have learned that a good mental health professional can help. A skilled therapist can help you clarify your priorities and develop a plan so that your daily actions are values driven. This is a concept I learned when I was trained in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but it’s woven through almost every type of mental health counseling. A counselor may use Cognitive Behavior Therapy to help you look at your thoughts about yourself, your relationships and the world around you. You’ll discover which of your thoughts is realistic and which need to challenged. You may even choose to see a therapist that specializes in women’s issues and hears these concerns day in and day out. While men experience role strain as well, it seems to be particularly prevelant in females. Through accepting how difficult it is to balance your roles, looking inside your own heart at your priorities and taking a closer look at your own thoughts, you’ll be able to more forward toward the things most important to you with confidence.
As moms, many of us believe in putting our children first. The problem I’ve seen is when women work themselves in the ground because they are “putting the kids first.” You may end up feeling burnt out. Furthermore, your children see this as the “norm.” They learn that this is simply what a mother does.
Think about your children for a moment and envision what you want for them as adults. What qualities do you hope they possess as adults? What kind of mental and emotional health do you wish on them? I know when I think about my sweet babies growing up the number one thing I want is for them to be happy. Of course I hope they find the perfect spouse, are incredibly successful in their careers and change the world. I will beam with pride when those things happen! But what good are any of those things to my kids if they’re unhappy?
If, like me, you want to see your children happy and healthy as adults, the best thing you can do is begin by showing them that it’s important to take care of themselves. Children watch out example. They are looking even when we think they aren’t.
If you are struggling with your own mental health issues, it will make a powerful statement to your children if you prioritize your mental health and go to counseling. I’ve worked with parents before in counseling who keep it a secret from their adult child that they’re attending counseling. Then they wonder why they can’t convince their teenage child to come in for help. I remember one family in particular where what FINALLY convinced the teenager to find a therapist for themselves was when the parent sat down and explained how they had been attending counseling and how helpful it had been. If you would want your own child to do whatever it takes to attend to their own mental health and find happiness, doing so yourself can be a great way to set an example.
Parenting can be stressful and it doesn’t come with a roadmap. Sure you can find about a million books on the subject, but they all contradict one another and can leave you more confused than when you started! A counselor can give you a safe space to vent your frustrations and support you on your parenting journey. Some therapists specialize in this more than others, and if you can find a therapist who specializes in parent counseling and consultationyou can be even more confident they will be able to help with this type of issue. A parent counselor can help you cope with your own emotions related to parenting, improve your relationship with your teenager or child and simply be the best parent you can be.
Anxiety and Depression are the two most common reasons people come to counseling in general. The good news is that both anxiety and depression respond very well to mental health counseling. It’s important to find a therapist that you feel is knowledgeable but also find one that you feel comfortable with. There are many different types of treatment that can be effective and your therapist can work with you to figure out exactly what your treatment plan should be.
You don’t have to live with anxiety or depression. They can make it hard to parent and to balance the other roles in your life. When you’re feeling anxious or nervous you may snap at your children or put unreasonable expectations on them. Not only might you miss out on things you avoid due to your anxiety, but that impacts your children as well. When you’re feeling depressed and unable to get out of bed it’s hard to connect with your children. You start to withdraw and your children may even blame themselves. But anxiety treatment and depression counseling can help and I encourage you to reach out and find someone.
It’s no secret that parenting can be hard on parenting. You and your significant other probably come from very different backgrounds and have different ideas of what it means to be a “good parent.” Even if you’re both doing the best you can, you may find your relationship or marriage in jeapordy. This is another one of those situations where coming into counseling might not only save your marriage but help your children. Nobody in your house benefits when the parents are constantly arguing, so it can be very important to get help for your marriage or relationship. If you and your spouse or co-parenting partner are struggling to communicate well and parent together, consider relationship counseling to help you reconnect and improve your communication.
Maybe you live in the St. Petersburg, Florida area and are reading this wondering if you should come to counseling. If so, I encourage you to reach out to my colleagues at McNulty Counseling and Wellness in St. Pete. I have been lucky enough to consult with Travis McNulty on several occasions. He has a good understanding about mental health and is passionate about providing excellent mental health services to the Pinellas County area. He’s brought on other skilled mental health counselors and I’m confident they can help you or any member of your family.
Counseling can help. Please don’t wait until you are even more stressed to get professional help. Contact McNulty Counseling today and begin your journey to better mental health!
Jessica Tappana is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the owner of a group counseling practice in Columbia, MO that specializes in treating trauma, grief, anxiety and overwhelming stress for teenagers, college students & adults. She is also a consultant to other therapists. Most importantly, Jessica passionately believes in the power of mental health counseling to change lives and empower moms to be all they can be!