PARENTING CAN BE STRESSFUL.
All of the mental and physical demands on parents combined with concerns about a child’s development, behavior, physical and mental health, academic progress and relationships can sometimes feel overwhelming. We have such powerful hopes and wishes for our children that anxiety and tension can build when we see them struggling.
WHEN PARENTS CAN'T AGREE HOW TO PARENT
Another common source of stress for parents is the conflict between them over parenting styles. Considering different family histories and all the intense emotions connected to parenting – joy, fear, pride, sadness, excitement, anxiety, surprise, frustration, awe, guilt, anger, peace, loss, hope, disappointment and of course love (to name a few) – it’s no wonder that parents can have disagreements over how to best raise their children.
At the same time, since a tremendously important component of the child’s emotional environment is the interaction between his or her parents, it’s helpful for parents to learn how to manage the intensity of their conflicts.
I have training and experience in working with couples and co-parents to communicate their differences more effectively, if not to ideally get onto the same parenting page. I also have experience working with “blended” families and helping parents in those circumstances clarify their roles and better manage their differences.
A RESOURCE FOR FRUSTRATED PARENTS
This is where Parenting Counseling comes in: to be a resource for parents in times of stress, crisis and/or desired growth. There is no more important endeavor than parenting and it’s natural to seek support when the challenges we face as parents leave us feeling stressed out or at a loss.
Most, if not all parents, want their children to grow up to be resourceful, resilient, able to take direction and learn from mistakes; to be respectful and cooperative with others; to believe in themselves and take initiative. Parenting counseling can help parents discover effective strategies for guiding their children while reducing parenting-related stress and anxiety.
A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD
Though the parent has many responsibilities, I believe the main task of parenting is to create a special kind of relationship with the child.
This means focusing on the state of connection between the parent and child in order to build the kind of relationship that effectively helps the child develop and mature along their own unique path to feeling good about who they are and being capable of having healthy, meaningful relationships.
The caregiver-child relationship is the main environment within which the child grows, so attending to the nature and quality of that environment is essential. I believe that in most cases, the parent’s emotional state is the most important component of the environment within which the child grows.
PARENTS LEARN TO MANAGE THEMSELVES IN ORDER TO MANAGE CHILDREN
Parenting is largely the conscious and disciplined awareness and regulation of the parent’s emotional state, particularly when in the presence of the child. This doesn't mean the parent has to be saintly or can’t get frustrated, angry or sad in the child’s presence, but it does mean that how the parent experiences and expresses his or her emotions is of key importance. Despite having the best intentions, all parents can sometimes be overtaken by frustration, anger or anxiety, and parenting counseling can support the parent in making the emotional adaptations necessary for strengthening and healing the parent-child connection.
Though emotional adaptation and attunement are at the heart of parenting, I believe structure, routine, rhythm and age-appropriate boundary-setting are also very important. And sometimes it is necessary to firmly and calmly enforce reasonable consequences with kids who are acting out. Parenting counseling can help parents develop simple plans for creating structure and holding boundaries with their child.
STRENGTHEN YOUR FAMILY
I believe Parenting Counseling provides an excellent opportunity for parents to help their children and strengthen family relationships. Depending on the intentions of my clients, I work collaboratively with parents to:
Strengthen the parent-child connection
Reduce parenting-related stress and anxiety
Simplify the task of parenting while engaging in greater self-care
Learn how to de-escalate their anger when parenting
Learn how to utilize frustration in positive and productive ways when parenting
Increase their sense of true authority
Increase their child’s self-esteem and emotional maturity
Reduce their child’s use of aggression and defiance
Reduce the occurrence of power struggles
Help decrease their child’s anxiety
Learn about and utilize developmentally appropriate disciplining strategies
Create plans for greater structure and limits
Help their child learn how to use better judgment
Reduce the intensity of co-parenting conflict and/or learn how to co-parent more cooperatively
Develop strategies for more effectively parenting in a blended family
Access appropriate resources in the community
I work with parents to increase their sense of confidence and access their own wisdom about doing what is best for their child. I do this while strongly advocating for the importance of understanding developmental factors, and even more significantly, emphasizing the power of creating a parent-child relationship within which the child feels secure, cherished, respected and taken care of.