New Leaf Counseling Group
Parenting in Today's World
Our last blog post presented different reasons to consider counseling for yourself or others. One of the reasons listed was parenting in today's world.
"You've probably heard it numerous times by now, but in these unprecedented times, it can be overwhelming to raise kids in the midst of it. Parents have found themselves wondering how to help their kids cope with today's tragedies because they're still learning to cope themselves. Parents wonder if they are "doing it right," and they often worry about the trauma their kids will carry from these formative experiences. Seeing a counselor will not only give you helpful parenting tools as you raise children in today's world, but it will give you a space to process your own worries and concerns so that you don't unintentionally place them on your kids."
While counseling and therapy are a great asset to aid in parenting, we wanted to provide a few tools for your parenting tool belt, if you will, for just a few issues parents face today.
We took a poll on Instagram to gather some of the everyday struggles parents face while raising kids in today's world. The top response was about comparison. We live in a digital age, and social media provides a window into people's day-to-day lives. But that's the thing; it's just a window, it's just one small part of a whole life. Due to curated feeds, filters, and photos, people compare themselves to others now more than ever. They see the smiling kids, the attentive spouse, and the clean home while sitting in their messy house, with a toddler having a meltdown after another fight with their partner. The quote, "comparison is the thief of joy," has aged well for a reason.
Parents are faced with multiple ways to compare themselves to other parents daily. When navigating parenting and social media, one suggestion we would like to give is to gently remind yourself that you are only seeing a part of people's lives, just like they only see a part of yours. Sometimes that simple reminder is all you need to snap out of the comparison game. If this doesn't work, it might be time for a break from social media. While taking a break, you could make intentional time during your day to practice gratitude. Try getting a journal and writing down three things you are thankful for each day.
Cultivating gratitude can often lessen the need to compare ourselves to others.
Raising kids differently than friends
Another issue mentioned on our Instagram pole was the tension parents face because they are raising kids differently from their friend group. It's not lost on us that tension and division are at an all-time high right now; add the previously mentioned need to compare through social media, and all of a sudden, differences can feel very threatening.
Here's what we would like to say about differences in parenting: different doesn't mean bad.
Just because someone is parenting differently from you doesn't mean that you can't be friends with that person anymore. It doesn't mean you have to change them or convince them to parent like you either. If you can parent with a value for connection and curiosity, you can maintain healthy relationships with different people. We know there are exceptions to this, but for the most part, we can always learn something from those who are different or parent differently than ourselves.
Mental Health in Kids
The last issue frequently mentioned in our Instagram poll was the growing concern for our kid's mental health. Parents, rightly so, are concerned about the long-term effects of growing up during a pandemic. While there is a lot to unpack on this topic and another reason why counseling and therapy are a great asset for parents, we do have few things we want to address in this blog post.
To give your child the best health and mental care possible, you have to be physically and mentally healthy as well. If you are not in a healthy space, mentally and physically, it will be harder to monitor and catch any deviation of your child's physical and mental state. This is where the importance of exercise, rest, and nutrition to maintain a good physical and mental state comes into play. Our kids observe more than we think, and they learn through what we do. If we value taking care of our minds, hearts, and bodies, they too will realize that value, no matter what season of life they face, pandemic or not.
Parenting can be challenging, to say the least. However, when we step out of comparison and lean into gratitude, we can experience joy. When we embrace our differences and seek to understand over being understood, we can create meaningful connections. Lastly, when we value our mental, physical and spiritual health, we model the best kind of self-care to our kids and remain a stable place for them to bring their needs forward. If you haven't been told today, you're doing great. No one can parent your kids like you. You were made for this.