Emotional Wellness for Parents

I remember holding my oldest son for the first time. I literally had no idea what to do with him. I was scared of being a Mom and couldn’t believe the hospital was going to let me take him home. I know I was better equipped than most first time parents because I was an elementary school teacher-but seriously- he was so tiny and fragile!!! The last thing I ever wanted to do was intentionally harm him. At the time, I had no idea that I could unintentionally harm him. 

Like most of the parents I see in therapy, they do not want to cause their children undue hardship or pain but unfortunately it happens. It’s usually not all at once, but a little over time, much like a sponge soaking up water. Especially when children are young, they demand a lot of our attention, time, energy, resources, money, etc. So what do you do as a parent when you’re overwhelmed, feel like you’re drowning and your children are clinging to you for help, and you’re not sure you can make it to the other side of the pool before losing it? 

I think the best gift we can give to ourselves and our family is to take care of ourselves. Here is a quick checklist with questions to help you determine if there is an area you need to address emotionally to be a better parent:

  1. Physical-How well do you feed yourself? Do you try to move your body every day? How about seeing your doctor, at least yearly? 

  2. Emotional-Are you dealing with emotions that seem overwhelming at times? Are they emotions you can talk out with a trusted friend or do you need more professional help?

  3. Spiritual-Are you attending church regularly if this is important to you, or was it important to you at one time? Are you taking time to pray? Meditate?

  4. Relational-How is your relationship with your spouse, friends, family? Are there things that you need to address so you can have more peace in this area?

  5. Intellectual-Are you doing something to challenge your intellect? Are you having hard conversations with others? Reading a book that makes you think? Studying for a degree or certificate?

  6. Occupational-Do you feel challenged in your current position? Do you have a good support group at your job? Are you trying to better yourself in your career?

  7. Environmental-Is your home or car cluttered? What is something that needs cleaned, cleaned out or organized?

  8. Financial-Are you paying attention to your money and where it goes? What areas need more attention? Where can you tighten the purse strings? 

These are the main areas I see in counseling that tend to slip over time and before you even realize it.  I realize this list can be overwhelming but it’s just a starting point. If one area is really out of balance, focus on that first. The point is to change one thing and start by doing that one thing for 15 minutes a day, after 2-4 weeks, add the next thing. Before you know it you’ll be a happier person and a better parent! 

I hope this helps you find the answer to questions you may have about how to get yourself out of the pool without drowning everyone! If you’re still feeling uneasy about this process, please feel free to contact me at 317.496.0456 or email I’d be happy to hear what is happening and help you find the right fit for counseling. If you are looking for help with depression, anxiety, trauma or behavioral concerns, you can read more about how I can help at my website peacefamilycounseling

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