Parenting is anything but easy. New parents are often left wondering why no one told them how hard it really is. Navigating divorce, conflicting personalities, communication styles, hormones, mental health, familial cycles, and simply trying to be the best parent you can be is stressful. Tenured parents often struggle to juggle it all. Single parents are spread too thin. Parenting support groups and family therapy for parents can help with all this and more.
Is parent therapy a thing?
Yes, it is! You can go solo, with your partner, or as a family.
We are taught a lot of things in school, but parenting isn’t one of them. A therapist is a safe place for you to share your parenting struggles. Venting alone can release a lot of pressure, but your therapist will also provide you with tools, techniques, and resources.
Your sessions don’t have to be limited to parenting. For example, if you find yourself falling into the unhealthy relationship habits you learned from your parents. Although you swore you would never perpetuate their habits, they are easy to fall into as your parents are your primary example.
Whatever your areas of opportunity may be, therapy can help.
Why should parents go to therapy?
There are countless reasons, and no reason is “right” or “wrong”. There is no shame in getting the help you and your family require. In fact, asking for help is vulnerable, and nothing shows strength more than vulnerability. However, not everyone is a safe place to share your parenting struggles. Many parents resort to mom-shaming and parent-shaming, often pretending as though they never struggle with their children. All parents struggle. Period.
Asking for help doesn’t mean you are a “bad” parent or that you have “bad” children. It means you want to do better for yourself and your family. There is no better reason.
A few reasons to consider therapy include:
- You have questions about how to support your child’s individuality and authenticity.
- You have post-partum depression, which may not occur with each pregnancy.
- The advice you have received from friends and family isn’t helping.
- You or someone in your home is struggling with their mental health.
- You or someone in your home is struggling with addiction.
- You feel guilt or shame for creating balance and boundaries or you have no balance and boundaries.
- You, your family, or your child are in a time of change or transition—divorce, death, illness, extreme financial difficulties, a new school district, puberty, gender identity changes, non-binary sexual orientation, extramarital affairs, etc.
- If you are struggling with parenting in any way, you can go to therapy to be a better parent.
What types of therapies are there for parents?
You have multiple options, and the more targeted the better. For example, don’t just look for a therapist or support group, but someone who specializes in your unique parenting or personal areas of opportunity. Then, explore one or more of the options below:
- Weekly one-on-one therapy with an individual therapist or someone who specializes in child development or behavioral health. This includes both live and online counseling as the best therapist for your needs may not be local.
- Family therapy where all or multiple family members go to solo or group sessions to voice their own concerns and present issues that need to be resolved.
- Couples counseling can help both parents (biological or not) strengthen their partnership and resolve disagreements about family life.
- Divorced or separated parents can also go to family counseling to align their parenting, resolve disagreements, and navigate co-parenting.
- Parenting support groups are a safe place for parents to share age-specific, parent-specific, and child-specific challenges. For example, single-parent support groups or parenting a neuroatypical, LGBTQIA, depressed, anorexic, or terminally ill child.
- Anger management therapy for parents who struggle to manage their temper or to learn how to help their child manage their anger and emotions.
- Parenting classes are available on a variety of topics. From improved communication to talking about puberty and sex, emotional intelligence, mental health, studying/learning techniques, building self-esteem, consequences and accountability, taking a proactive approach to substance abuse, and more.
Can I bring my parents to counseling?
Whether you are an adult or a minor the decision is up to your parents. However, parent involvement is most often a key component of successful therapy for minors.
For comfort, minors may have their parent in every session with them and the sessions will likely be informal. For example, the child may draw, play games, or play with you and the therapist the entire session.
Generally speaking, children feel more support if one or both parents participate in their therapy. Parent involvement also helps to address parent-child relationship issues and helps children to better utilize their tools and resources. At the very least, therapists will consult with the parents of most minors.
As children get older, particularly in their teens, they may require more privacy and independence. Since minors do not always have the legal right to confidentiality, therapists sometimes ask parents to sign a confidentiality agreement. This empowers the child by providing a safe place to share things they are unable to share with their parents.
How do I get my mom into therapy?
Whether you are an adult or minor, you cannot force your mom or parent into therapy. However, you can suggest and encourage solo, couples, family, or group therapy.
There is still a lot of stigma surrounding therapy, particularly for parents of color, so be mindful of your parent’s hesitation. They may feel you think they are “crazy” or that something is “wrong” with them. They may also be in denial regarding their area of opportunity, particularly if it is related to addiction, mental health, or abuse of any kind.
Before you broach the topic, give them a heads up that you want to have a difficult conversation. This will minimize the shock and the feeling of being blindsided. Schedule a time and place, preferably your home or theirs—but at least somewhere private and comfortable.
Lead with love and choose your words thoughtfully. You might begin with something along the lines of, “I love you and am worried that there is something that needs to be addressed.”
Explain why you are suggesting therapy, by providing a few examples. Be mindful of the language you use, avoiding terms that shame or blame. Instead, focus on facts and concerning observations. Offer up one or more suggestions, including therapy. For example, if your parent is an alcoholic which you believe stems from childhood trauma you could suggest joining Alcohol Anonymous, a trauma support group, or therapy.
Be loving, patient, and mindful that you cannot control their decision.
Whether you are seeking out solo, family, or therapy for parents and child—prioritizing self-care is an area of opportunity for most parents. Check back to the Holmes Organics Wellness blog for additional self-care suggestions. Also, speak with your healthcare practitioner to discuss if CBD is the right fit for your self-care routine.