Dear Parents, You Matter
By: Dr. Stacie Herrera
Parental burnout is a real thing, and it’s something many are feeling right now. There is a youth mental health crisis in our country, and a child care crisis that is leaving so many feeling overwhelmed and unsupported.
It is challenging to be a parent these days, especially when you throw in a worldwide pandemic. But beating ourselves up for not parenting to some standard that someone else put upon us is not healthy.
Give Yourself Some Care and Compassion
I challenge you to find ways that you are being successful in your parenting, however big or small that success might look. It matters. Because you are doing the best that you can with the knowledge and resources that you have. We all are.
The truth is, we are raising children during tough times. Navigating the use of technology, the reality of school shootings, a youth mental health crisis, and all the other struggles of parenting is a real challenge. Now, with a global pandemic still lingering, NPR explains that parents everywhere “are losing their tempers, losing sleep, and losing jobs when the child care they pay for is canceled, over and over.” It is only natural to feel alone and overwhelmed, being forced to make decisions with unclear messages from the world around us and limited child care support.
As parents and guardians, we have been tasked with playing a variety of roles over the past two years, while working remotely and attempting to navigate the often confusing guidelines provided during the pandemic. We've experienced decision-fatigue, zoom fatigue, remote learning fatigue; all while attempting to allow our children to meet developmental milestones and expectations.
Instead of telling you to do one more thing...I ask you to pause, take a breath, and reflect on all of the little things that are going well. I want you to repeat: "I am a good parent." I encourage you to give yourself a heaping dose of compassion in this moment.
Show Your Child What Care and Compassion Looks Like
We can get so wrapped up in how society thinks we “should” parent, we forget that our kids simply want us to love them. Your children love you. It's so important to show up for them however you can. When it comes down to it, the grades don't matter. The school they go to doesn't matter. What matters most is wrapping them in your love so they learn that they can withstand anything—even a pandemic.
If you begin to recognize those moments of connection with your child, this will allow you to feel more successful in your parenting style. Focusing with gratitude and acknowledgment of those moments will allow you to witness more of those opportunities to focus on what is going well and those successful moments naturally begin to multiply.
We live in uncertain times that are challenging for both children and parents. It's okay to ask for help and support in navigating how to raise children in today's society. It is complex. The demands and expectations are great, and we know that they have only increased with the pandemic.
Know that, as a child psychologist, I see your collective efforts to hold up our children during these uncertain times. My hope is that you can see the good that you are doing, even the micro-moments. My hope is that once you see that within yourselves, it will radiate outward and allow you to model self-compassion for your children. Recognize and acknowledge the wins during these tumultuous times. Celebrate the ways in which you managed milestones, traditions, and celebrations—building the treasured memories of childhood.
If we display more compassion for our own parenting style, it will show our children what self-compassion looks like. We can show our children how to work through difficult times, even without knowing all the answers. This is our chance to teach them to recognize that if they give themselves grace and compassion, it will be a little easier to get through life’s ups and downs. There are scary emotions to be had in this lifetime. But we as humans can do scary things. Including you.
Please allow this article to serve as a compassionate hug.
I see you,