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I’m Usually a Really Good Parent, But Sometimes…

Dr. Paula offers seven talk strategies to help really good, but really stressed parents grab a lifeline to negotiate the white waters of 21st century parenting.

With working a full time job, having three school-aged children and being a single parent, I’m finding that although I’m usually a really good parent, I’m feeling very stressed out lately. I notice that I’m yelling at the kids more than I’d like to admit and generally losing my patience over little things that previously didn’t bother me.  It seems that minor irritations are becoming major problems and I’m feeling out of control. Are my feelings normal or am I just over dramatizing my situation?     

~ Celine V.

Feelings of stress and impatience are certainly normal and to be expected with the numerous demands on your time and energy as an employee and a parent. Juggling those duties and managing your own well-being is a challenging balancing act.

Characterizing yourself as feeling “out of control” is telling. You seem to have some insight into your current feelings as being different from your previous feelings. You seem to be noticing that these negative feelings are starting to emerge as negative behaviors. Awareness is a good first step that will help you nip the unwanted behaviors in the bud.

Sometimes the kids act out, misbehave or just won’t listen.Then there are times when work responsibilities increase and verge on becoming overwhelming. When the two situations collide, it’s not unusual for you to experience stress, frustration and even anger. Obviously you want to do the best job you can as a parent and you want to be a good employee as well. Although this is no easy task, it is possible if you gather a support system around you and your family and work together to make togetherness work.

TALKing is an effective way to do just that. Sometimes just talking with someone helps you to process your thinking aloud and clarify the issues that are causing stress. Try some of these seven TALK strategies to relieve your stress and regain your equilibrium:

TALK yourself into taking care of yourself.

Convince yourself to get sufficient rest and exercise. Eat regularly and right. Take some time for yourself. Remember what the flight attendant’s safety instructions are when you’re on a plane: place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you attempt to assist anyone else. That’s good advice even if you’re not flying.

TALK with someone you trust.

Take some time to talk to someone you trust and have confidence in.  Connect with a good friend, a family member or other parents in similar situations. Although you might feel that your situation is unique to you, there are others who are/were in similar situations, and they’ve found ways to cope. Benefit from their experience.

TALK with your doctor.

Maybe there’s a medical reason for the way you’re feeling. Having a complete physical work-up might reveal the cause of your feelings. Follow through on any recommended treatment plan.

TALK with your child’s pediatrician.

There may be a medical reason for your child’s difficult behaviors, acting out or not cooperating with your requirements.

TALK to someone who has some time to help you out.

Ask for help when you need it. On occasion, ask a trusted family member, friend or neighbor to help you out by watching your child while you take a break for an hour or so. You don’t have to go off to some exotic destination. It may be enough that you go grocery shopping with the children tagging along.

TALK to a mental health professional.

Mental health providers abound in this region. There are numerous options for obtaining no cost assistance to help you hold on when you’re at the end of your rope. You can make a call any of these help lines to reach a listening ear that can help you regain your perspective when you’re in turmoil:

Re:Solve Crisis Network 1.888.7.YOUCAN.

Allegheny County Peer Support Warmline Network: 1.866.661.WARM.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK.

 

“When we choose to be parents, we accept another human being as part of ourselves, and a large part of our emotional selves will stay with that person as long as we live. From that time on, there will be another person on this earth whose orbit around us will affect us as surely as the moon affects the tides, and affect us in some ways more deeply than anyone else can. Our children are extensions of ourselves. “  ~ Fred Rogers 

 

United Way of Pittsburgh offers many useful online resources including Where to Turn: http://www.unitedwaypittsburgh.org/index.php/get-help/directories-guides

 

Visit this website for dozens of resources that offer solutions to a variety of issues:

http://pittsburgh.about.com/od/health/tp/Pittsburgh-Crisis-Intervention.

 

This website offers support for surviving the toughest job you’ll ever love, being a parent:

http://stress.about.com/od/parentsunderstress/Parents_Under_Stress_Surviving_The_Thoughest_Job_Youll_Ever_Love.htm

 

The PBS (Public Broadcasting System) website provides an excellent listing of hotlines that are as close as your landline or cell phone:

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/cryforhelp/episodes/resources/hotlines-and-web-sites-for-parents/8/

Paula A. Calabrese October 03, 2011 at 04:02 PM
A friend who read this article suggested a great resource that discusses the 5 Protective Factors Framework that is the foundation for strengthening families. Check it out at http://www.cssp.org/reform/strengthening-families/the-basics/protective-factors

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