Parenthood doesn’t always feel like all it’s cracked out to be. The truth is that parenting at all its stages is tough. Sure, there’s the proud moments, family connection, love, and satisfaction of raising kids. But there’s also a fair share of grief, stress, overwhelm, disconnection, and confusion. When we picture parenthood, we may know about the inevitable difficulties, but if we haven’t yet lived it, it can be hard to truly know what to expect.
The reality is that there can be so many underrated factors that come together which can make the experience… harder than expected and less than ideal.
While it’s common to seek therapy for better-known issues like postpartum depression, miscarriage, relationship difficulties, or loss, many parents hesitate to seek professional help for “smaller” problems. You may often notice yourself asking, “Should I go to therapy?” or “Is this what parenting counselling is for?”
In this blog post, we’ll explore how to know if your parenting concerns are big enough, worthy enough, or valid enough for therapy. We’ll also discuss six common “smaller” problems that parents often bring to therapy.
While reading, ask yourself if you recognize yourself, your partner, or a loved one in these points. And remember too that all struggles, pain points, and stressors are valid.
How to know if counselling is for you: 3 signs to watch for
Sometimes, it can be challenging to know whether or not your challenges warrant therapy. Here are three signs that might indicate it’s time to seek professional guidance:
1. It’s having an impact
If your concerns are significantly affecting your emotional well-being, relationships, or overall quality of life, it’s a strong indication that therapy could be beneficial. Too often parents gaslight or dismiss themselves with thoughts like, “But I love my kids and besides, I chose this.” “Others have it worse.” or “Yeah, I’m upset but it’s not that bad. It could be worse.” The point isn’t whether or not it could be worse, the point is whether or not it’s affecting you. Yes or no?
2. You struggle to honestly discuss it with others
When you find it difficult to open up about your struggles or worries with friends or family, therapy can provide a safe and non-judgmental space to explore your feelings. Sometimes friends or family accidentally say the wrong thing or they have a vested interest in your decisions or way of parenting. In these cases, a therapist is a healthier sounding board.
3. You don’t have anyone who shares the experience
If you lack a support network of people who can relate to your specific parenting challenges, therapy can offer you the opportunity to connect with a professional who understands and can provide guidance. Other friends/family may not have children or they don’t relate to your specific situation. We all need to feel seen and have others who truly understand.
6 common “smaller” problems parents bring to therapy:
Parenting is a multifaceted journey, and there are various issues that might not be widely discussed but are absolutely valid reasons to seek therapy.
Here are six common “smaller” problems that parents often bring to therapy. And just know that these aren’t actually small problems at all, it’s just that we notice people tend to minimise or question these things. These are more common than you may know and just because they aren’t the heaviest or most emotionally turbulent issues, that doesn’t mean that they don’t require proper processing and healing.
1. Grieving your past life
Many parents experience a sense of loss for their pre-parenting life. Therapy can help you process these feelings and find ways to incorporate elements of your old life into your new one.
2. You need help dealing with the not-so-great side of parenting
Parenting isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. If you’re struggling with the less glamorous aspects, like sleepless nights, tantrums, or challenging behaviour, therapy can provide strategies for coping and managing stress. It’s normal to sometimes feel regret or anger due to a current situation you’re dealing with. No need to feel guilty or ashamed about that.
3. You need support with establishing healthy and realistic routines
Adjusting to a new routine with a baby or young child can be overwhelming. Therapy can help you create a schedule that suits your family’s needs and helps maintain your own well-being. We help you get to the bottom of top priorities, adjusting high expectations, and including social, intellectual, and career goals that feed your soul.
4. You’re not on your own priority list
Parenting often involves putting your child’s needs first, but it’s essential to prioritize your own mental health and self-care. Therapy can help you find balance and ensure you’re not neglecting your own well-being. That can be in small ways like making a goal to leave the house alone a few times a week, getting a pass to a nearby pool or gym, or making sure that your social life doesn’t go completely silent.
5. You’re struggling to find your parenting style and methods:
Every parent is unique, and what works for one family may not work for another. If you’re struggling to find your parenting style and values, therapy can assist you in defining your path. There can be so much societal messaging, unsolicited advice, and external pressure which can feel stressful and prevent you from truly listening to your inner guide.
6. This isn’t really what you envisioned: …and you’re even not sure what is.
Parenting doesn’t always match our expectations, and that’s perfectly normal. You might be gob-smacked by how different reality looks from what you envisioned. Or you might be cloudy on what you even wanted your (and your family’s) future to look like to begin with. Therapy can help you navigate the gap between your expectations and reality, leading to a more fulfilling parenting experience. Talking this through can get you to a place where you’re actually looking forward to what the future holds.
Parenting challenges really run the gamut and there’s no such thing as an experience or problem that does or doesn’t warrant chatting with a professional. Parenting is a stage of life that can bring on a lot of suffering—even with things you never would have thought to consider.
If it’s having an impact, it’s valid enough to be discussed. Seeking therapy for these issues is a valid and beneficial choice which is why we have a whole team at The Perinatal Collective that provides support.
Your emotional well-being and the well-being of your family are worth it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist if you recognize any of the signs mentioned in this post or if you simply feel that you could benefit from professional guidance in your parenting journey. Remember that your concerns are valid, and seeking help is a sign of strength and dedication to your family’s happiness and well-being.