- Do you often feel guilty after disciplining your child or saying “no”?
- Are you worried that you can’t protect your child from all of the dangers, struggles and pains of the world?
- Do you often feel clueless and inadequate as a parent?
- Has the thought that you might not even like your child crossed your mind, flooding you with guilt and shame?
- Do you wish you had a supportive place to vent your frustrations and develop a deeper understanding of what is really going on between you and your child?
At times, being a parent can feel utterly overwhelming. Maybe your child is struggling in school or with social situations, and you wonder what you can do to guide and support him or her. Or, perhaps trying to manage your child’s emotions or behavior is causing you stress and guilt, especially if you feel as though you should be your child’s friend as well as his or her parent. You might often find yourself apologizing to your child and sometimes wonder who is really in charge of your household. Maybe you fear that your child will reject or even hate you if you don’t give in, making it challenging to set healthy boundaries.
You may have dreamed of having a child, but now your reality seems to be falling short of your hopes and expectations about parenthood. Or, maybe your child was unplanned, and now you feel as though you were doomed to be a failure as a parent. You might fear that outsiders believe that you are messing everything up or that you don’t deserve to be a parent. Maybe your child is very different from you, and you are frequently in conflict. Or, perhaps your child is very similar to you, and you worry about the negative traits that you may be passing on. Too many responsibilities and challenges might be weighing down on you, making you feel increasingly confused and alone.
Most Parents Struggle With Self-Doubt
Raising a child is incredibly difficult. Even though you may be comparing yourself to other families and wondering why they have it so easy, they are almost certainly struggling with conflicts and challenges of their own. It can be confusing to balance the interests in needs of your co-parent, your child’s grandparents, your child and yourself. Although sitcoms can wrap up family conflict in 30 minutes – complete with hugs and a punch line – real-life parenting is nowhere near as simple.
How we were raised often unconsciously impacts how we raise our own children. I call this unconscious behavior “letting the monkey drive.” If you were neglected, you might be inserting yourself into every little moment in your child’s life, hovering over his or her every decision or mistake. If your parents were abusive or delivered harsh punishments, you may feel like you want to nurture and comfort your child or feel as though you can’t set rules or enact discipline. It is also very common to unconsciously adopt the very behaviors that you wanted to avoid. For example, you may have grown up hearing criticism about your weight, and suddenly you find yourself asking your child if he or she really wants that dessert. You may find yourself mirroring your own parents or behaving in ways that you swore you wouldn’t, which can elicit self-blame and feelings of guilt.
Many parents take on full responsibility for every little thing that happens in their children’s lives, and this constant pressure to be the best parent and provide the best support system can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there is a way to take a step back and begin to feel more in control of your parenting decisions.
As a parent, I understand all too well how difficult it can be to balance your love and dreams for your child with daily challenges and frustration. And, I have seen my own unconscious monkey get in the front seat and drive. My father, overall a very loving father, had a very particular glare – a look of anger, disgust and disapproval that could make a child cry or shut down. It wasn’t until my own child burst into tears that I realized that I have that exact same glare. After this discovery, I worked to become more aware about how I acted or expressed myself when annoyed. Very few of us are looking in the mirror when we are feeling upset, but through parenting counseling, it is possible to build a bridge between the conscious and unconscious so that you become more aware of your responses to emotionally trying moments.
In sessions, I create a comfortable space so you can express yourself openly and honestly. Even if you are a having a particularly difficult time getting along with your child, you can share your frustrations, anger and disappointment without fear of judgment. Even if these feelings horrify you or fill you with guilt, you can learn to let go of self-blame, forgive yourself for missteps and treat yourself with greater compassion. Parenting can help you identify which of your child’s behaviors trigger you and allow the monkey to take control. With help, you don’t have to let the monkey drive.
I will tailor each session to meet your particular needs. Each parenting situation is different, and we can work through even the most unexpected feelings you may be having toward your child or about parenting. Even if your child is incredibly different from you, parenting counseling can help you find ways to accept differences and connect with your child. If your child is going through a particularly rough time, I can help you gain perspective on his or her developmental stages so you can give him or her the best possible support.
Parenting is complicated, but with help you can enrich your relationship with your child. You aren’t your child’s best friend – you are his or her parent, and that role is full of the potential for fulfillment and happiness. You can set healthy boundaries that help everyone in your family grow and thrive. With support and safe space to be honest, you can let go of guilt, shame and fear and feel more comfortable and in control, no matter what challenges arise.
You may believe that parenting counseling can help you better relate to your child, but still have questions or concerns…
If I come to parenting counseling, will you tell me that I am a terrible parent?
If you are running into conflict with your child or feeling overwhelmed, you might worry that people are judging you as a parent. However, it is more likely that perception of judgment is coming from within yourself. During sessions, you can be completely honest about everything that you are feeling. I will never blame or judge you for anything you are going through. Parenting counseling can be your safe space to vent and gain a new perspective on difficult situations.
Other people are great parents. Why do I need extra help?
While it can look like everyone else has it all together, this is likely not true. Parenting is hard for everyone, and almost all families experience at least some chaos behind the scenes. Furthermore, if you are looking for help, you are reflective enough to know that you and your children could benefit from an outside perspective. Seeking help doesn’t make you a bad parent. Rather, it means you care enough to do all you can for your children.
How can I fit therapy into my schedule?
Raising children and balancing your other responsibilities can be hectic. But, parenting counseling can be a valuable time for you. In addition to receiving support, you can also learn new ways to support your child and increase peace in your home. Time spent in sessions is an investment in bettering time spent with your kids. Therapy can be your safe space to take a breath without worrying about multi-taking. I also offer phone sessions when time is especially tight.
If you are ready for parenting support, I invite you to call me at (415) 294-5007 for a free 15-minute phone consultation to ask any questions you have about parenting counseling and my practice.