You’re tired, cranky, and short-tempered. You feel that you have no life outside of your spouse, kid, and job. Does this make you a lousy parent—or are you being too hard on yourself? “We see a lot of clients who wonder whether they’re good parents,” says Karen Friedland-Brown, MA, Director of Parents Place on the Peninsula, “Most of the time, they’re doing fine. All they need are support, strategies, and reassurance.
- Take time for yourselves, whether it’s a half hour to take a walk, read, or meditate. If you’re not taking care of your needs, it will be difficult to address your children’s. Make sure to identify your needs. As you do so, you will become more aware of the feelings that come up when your needs aren’t met, such as disappointment, resentment, and frustration. Being in touch with these feelings will allow you to find solutions that work for everyone.
- Evaluate what is and is not within your control. Once you have a clearer idea about what you can and can’t do about a situation, you will feel calmer.
- Pay attention to “trigger thoughts” that increase feelings of helplessness, anger, or frustration. For instance, you might think, “My 4-year-old always has a meltdown when I have to go to work. He does this on purpose.” Such a thought might fuel your anger. Another interpretation—“Transitions are hard for him”—may increase empathy and understanding and provide you with a calmer perspective and easier solution.