Parent overwhelm is so prevalent since the pandemic. It could be a psychological diagnosis. I’ve recently heard from parents who suffer from major fatigue, exceptional stress levels, depression and anxiety. Their exhaustion seems palpable.
I’m reminded of the time I felt overwhelmed as a parent. It hit hard when I was a newly divorced single mom with the financial pressures of not only feeding and clothing two teen daughters but trying to prepare to send my daughters to college while building a career and recovering from family patterns of addiction and one daughter suffering from a major illness. I didn’t need a vacation. I needed a life overhaul.
Like most healing, our solutions lie within. Here are three (3) major factors that lead to parent overwhelm. We can heal these factors by making the changes we need to live in the solution and not the problem.
1.) Problem Factor: Not Being Authentic
A big source of parent overwhelm occurs when we try to contort ourselves into a mold that doesn’t fit who we are and doesn’t suit our souls. Our teens are watching us succumb to cultural expectations such as busy is better. They are receiving the message that it’s not acceptable to be who we are. Or even worse, they internalize the message, that it’s not okay to be who they are. Being real and still respectful, by having our insides match our outsides helps everyone.
Secret Solution #1: Reflection on Self Respect and Personal Boundaries
Here are some reflective questions about respecting our own needs and boundaries.
- Can we do less and be more?
- If we need time alone can we take the time to recharge and meet the family or kids later?
- Can we negotiate deadlines in a way that serves our bodies and families better? We don’t have to do it all and we certainly don’t have to do it perfectly.
- Can I take comfort and courage from the clarity the Serenity Prayer brings? God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can and the Wisdom to know the difference.
2.) Problem Factor: Attempting to Control Others (including our teens)
Attempts at controlling teens works against their developmentally appropriate need for independence. Teens need to be making choices and mistakes or their development to responsible adulthood is thwarted. Parenting with consciousness is what allows us to support our teens’ growth and independence, making it possible for us to “let go” of them and use that energy to regulate our own emotions. Our own emotional regulation and responsibility paves the way for real connection with our teens. And deep connection with our teens is what inoculates them from all the risky behavior that we fear which is why we are trying to control them. You can see that attempts at controlling our teens is a vicious cycle of fear based parenting and that’s the exact opposite message we want to send.
Secret Solution #2: Empowering Affirmations – Affirmations help us focus on the solution rather than the problem.
- One way to deal with our own fear as consciously growing parents is to use affirmations in our own regular reflective time or prayer and meditation time. Examples: I can be loveable and fallible or God’s universe is conspiring for my good.
- Using affirmations with our teens also, can be transformative, because they are empowering. Simply reflect to them what you see in them as a character trait. Instead of nagging about homework, how about saying something like, I respect your work ethic this year or I really appreciate the way you are handling mask wearing and socially distancing as you enter your senior year.
3.) Problem Factor: Lack of Parenting Support
Another major source of parent overwhelm is a lack of support. We truly need a village to raise children and teens and never more so that in a global pandemic. These days families don’t live near extended family as much as they used to and our lives are so fast paced that we miss knowing our neighbors. We are social beings and yet, we’ve never been more isolated. Parenting is the role in our lives that requires the most support and yet seem to be ashamed or perhaps simply too overwhelmed to reach out.
Secret Solution #3: Creating “community” is in our DNA and community in parenting has never been more important!
We must co-create safe spaces for parents where it is okay to be ourselves, support each other and set clear, positive intentions about parenting, then loving with humor hold each other accountable to continue on the path our intentions set us on. We are not alone and we don’t have to remain isolated in our parenting journey.
Support groups and group coaching experiences can make a difference. I’ve been privileged to intimately know the parents in our international groups. Even though it is through Zoom, I’ve never been more inspired, more hopeful and more empowered in my own parenting journey than I have been interacting with them. I get to facilitate the experience, I always needed when my daughters were teens and now it spills over to how I continue to interact with them in their young adulthood. For more support, visit https://LauraLReagan.com
Why Solution Secrets?
Okay, okay, okay, the healing solutions to parent overwhelm aren’t that secret. But we act as if they are, because we don’t readily give them to ourselves. Be kind to yourself.
1) Take time to reflect more and do less to respect your own boundaries
2) Use empowering affirmations with yourself and your teen.
3) Co-create supportive community with other parents.
The solutions are simple, but profound. Don’t stay in parent overwhelm. Balance isn’t that far away. Reach out!