As a therapist, business owner, and mom myself, I have reflected often on the relentless nature of modern parenting. The standards and ideals many of us hold very dear and genuinely feel are important, if not vital, are challenging in our typical lives. Now we have the challenge of living during a global pandemic which is placing an unreasonable amount of pressure on parents, particularly parents of kids who are not entirely independent and working parents.
We are also getting mixed signals in the world about how to handle this… do we relax our expectations? Do we just need to get even more efficient and sleep less to get everything we need to get done? Do we need more color-coded charts perhaps?
I am of the belief that we likely will need to relax our expectations of ourselves in order to survive this situation as well as we can. We are just not going to be able to meet every deliverable at work, be our best parenting selves 24 hours a day, and have our lives look up to our ideal standards (whatever that might be for you).
Without the government stepping in and providing more relief to parents, this is an unsustainable situation for most of us. While we might be able to do it for a short period of time, when we start talking about many many more months, parents deservedly start wondering what in the world are we going to do? The choices many parents are facing feel pretty grim as none of them feel like the “right” thing to do. Many of us have the privilege that we have not had to face a list of options that all feel terrible but are the only things we can do in a given situation. What a rude awakening we are having!
Here are some of the questions parents are facing…
Additionally, parents are feeling so mixed about almost any choice we make. When all of the choices have very clear negatives but there is not one that is guaranteed to be better/easier/manageable, it puts us in an uncomfortable position. Often, I would say we are faced in the most direct way possible with the truth that we cannot do it all. Definitely not right now, and I would argue most likely not ever because the standards have always been unrealistic. However, in order to cope and survive, we as families are having to lower our bars even more, which is uncomfortable particularly for those of us who are perfectionistic and already felt that we were not entirely doing things “ideally.”
I wanted to write about this as I feel that parents need to know they are not alone. So many of the parents I speak to feel alone in this and like they are the only ones struggling. I am here to tell you that you are not. This is really hard and most parents I know are really having a hard time.
Our coping is going to need a dramatic overhaul in the coming weeks. It is likely not going to be good enough to just take 5 minutes for yourself a day or to throw yourself even more into color coded charts. We are going to need to take some deep looks at our lives, values, and priorities and make some really tough decisions. While there are certainly no quick fixes, and often there are going to be no “right” or “perfect” or even “good enough” answers, we need to work on how we relate to ourselves through this situation.
The kinder, more compassionate, and gentle we can be with ourselves – the better. While I may not be able to solve the challenges your family is facing, I can offer some thoughts of ways to work in some self-compassion.
In times of transition and change, the most important thing for all of us is to try to be flexible and understanding with ourselves. We need to re-define our parenting ideals and make it okay for parents to be imperfect and to have that be okay. I always tell clients in my office that perfect parents are not welcome or even helpful for kids.
Kids and teens need us to be imperfect and to show them how to relate to our challenges and mistakes with compassion so that they can do the same. If you are struggling in this situation to communicate the way you want with your child or maybe you are losing your patience, being inconsistent, or whatever other “parenting no-no” you are having – work on repairing with them and with yourself. Talk to them and let them know you love them and are trying your best.
Most of all, hang in there parents. This is really hard and there is a crazy amount of pressure on us these days. Let’s not add to it ourselves with even more expectations!
As always, we at Thrive are here for parents and teens, particularly during this unprecedented time in our world. We want to help you make the most of the pandemic but also help you cope with it if you are struggling. Please make sure to balance any advice you are taking with a healthy dose of self-care and realistic expectations!
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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