Parent Time: It is okay to put yourself first
Over the last few weeks, we have focused on how to support our children. This week, it is all about you, the parent. It is really important to look after yourself as you guide your children from infancy to young adulthood. It can be a journey paved with love and fear, however, the key to it all is that the parent stays sane and strong.
Here are a few tips to maintaining that sanity and strength.
1. Accept that change is inevitable. As your child grows, so too must you accept that there will be a time when you are not needed as much. That's okay, but there are some things that don't change. Your family values are the foundation of your child's growth. There are occasions where we need to remind our children of these.
2. Give them autonomy. Expect their decision to stretch the boundaries, but do not accept what you know is wrong or threatening. You are the adult. For many, looking at your child challenge you is like looking in a mirror. Grandparents can be a wonderful resource but gently remind them that they don't have to share 'war stories' about your childhood to your children.
3. Ask for their advice. A great way to show love and respect is to affirm to your child that they are of value to the family. There are times when we can be in awe of some of the wise statements our young people make. There is also the shock value. Teens love to through in a comment that makes you begin to question your own parenting. But that's okay, they are fishing and you don't have to take the bait.
4. Protect your buttons. Children and teens know your emotional buttons and they can press them. Surround those buttons with steel so that they can't find them. Unfortunately, pushing parent buttons is a form of entertainment for some children and we need to establish that we owe them our care, not our emotional intelligence.
5. Take care of yourself. It is so easy to surrender to the care of your children more of your life than you should. Take the time to rejuvenate: walking with your friends, stretch out, eat right and make sure you spend quality time away from them. Letting children know that you need time out is okay.
6. Use a support network. Our children have friends as a support, parents need to have the same. Sharing the good moments and not so good can be affirming for a parent, you are not alone when you are experiencing those awkward times.
7. Have fun. One of the things we most need in life is fun and humour. Having fun with your children can be exhilarating , these moments you can draw upon when they fun and humour seems to have disappeared for a while. Whenever, wherever and however you can, celebrate your life with your family.
Resources for Parents
- ReachOut Parents: Helping parents support their teenagers through everyday issues and tough times.
- Beyondblue: Parents can also experience depression and anxiety, and Beyond Blue has resources to help you when you're the one that is not okay.
- Parenthelpline: Parenting can be a tough job but also really rewarding. Talking to a Parentline counsellor can help you navigate difficult parenting dilemmas.
- Family Relationship Advice Line: 1800 050 321, 8 am-8 pm Monday to Friday, 10 am-4 pm Saturday