Being a parent is one of the toughest jobs you can sign up for. Sure every parent has bad days but some just make you feel that you’ve come to the very end of your rope.
Maybe you’ve had yet another shouting match with your teen daughter and you wonder how it can possibly get any worse. Or you find out that your teen son has been skipping school to smoke pot and gamble with his circle of questionable friends. You’ve tried talking and reasoning things out with them to no avail. You don’t know how things got so bad. How did your little angel morph into this angry, belligerent teen?
You have tried everything you could think of, read every parenting article and book you could get your hands on. Still, you suspect that there’s something you’re missing. Some magic tip or parenting technique that will make all this go away.
You can’t help but compare your family with others and yours comes up short. In spite of your best efforts, your family just doesn’t seem to be as happy as others are and you feel like a failure because of it.
It’s not just the frustration and anger that wear you out. It’s the anxiety and guilt. You’re frightened by your teen’s behavior and are worried sick about what it means for their future. As if that’s not enough, deep down, you harbor a sneaky suspicion that maybe this is all your fault. You feel guilty about how your child turned out and blame yourself.
What do you do when you’ve had a tough day being a parent? When you want so badly to fix things and make them better but the cauldron of emotions you’re experiencing leaves you feeling defeated and inadequate?
Here’s what you do:
You remember you have value.
Yes, you do!
Sure it might not seem like it now but if you take a step back, you’ll see that you are a good parent. Proof of that is in the way you keep hope alive and keep loving your child through everything. It takes strength, bravery, stamina, and patience –oh so much patience- to make it through tough parenting days and you’re a champ for doing it over and over.
So even if it doesn’t feel like it, I am reminding you that you are an awesome parent and the bad days don’t define you.
You remind yourself that this too shall pass.
It’s a cliché but your track record of getting through bad days is 100% so far. Keep reminding yourself that this is just a bad day or week, it will eventually pass. You’ve had tough days before and you’ve dealt with them. Sure, you felt discouraged, exhausted and frustrated but you made it through. Keep going and remember that this is just a rough patch that won’t last forever.
You keep trying.
Even if it seems that all your efforts are futile, don’t give up fighting for your child. You get up every morning and keep trying. Read more articles, keep talking to your teen and do your best to offer as much guidance as you can. Look for another therapist, psychiatrist or counselor if the one your teen is seeing isn’t working out. Keep attending those family therapy sessions and keep hope alive.
One day you’ll look back and marvel at your patience and tenacity and you’ll be glad you never gave up on your teen.
You ask for help.
Sometimes you just don’t have what it takes to help your child, no matter how hard you try. It’s imperative you recognize this early enough so that you can take steps to get your struggling teen the help they so desperately need.
Seek help and guidance from mental health professionals like therapists, counselors or teen psychologists who have experience working with troubled teens. It might mean sending your teen to a therapeutic boarding school and sending them away from home might break your heart. However, keep in mind that removing them from their current environment and having them interact with other teens going through the same will do them a world of good.
You cut yourself some slack.
When you’re going through tough times in your family, it’s tempting to compare yourself with others. The downside of this is that you’ll probably be comparing their best with your worst. Besides, making comparisons will wear you out, making you feel like a failure when you’re not. Nobody raises a child without messing up and you’re not the only parent struggling to pull your family together.
Instead of making unhealthy comparisons, why not turn to self-compassion? Accept that you are a struggling parent and be willing to look at your own mistakes with kindness and understanding. You are not a perfect human so quit pressuring yourself to be a perfect parent with perfect kids.
You put on your own oxygen mask.
As you seek help for your teen, don’t forget to set aside time to nurture and pamper yourself. You can’t help others if you’re running on empty so take time to relax and rejuvenate. Raising a troubled teen can be an isolating experience so seek out other parents going through the same struggles as you. That way you’ll not only get encouragement but also new insight into how to deal with your parenting troubles.
Next time you have a tough parenting day, remind yourself that such days come and go but your love for your kids and teens will always remain. @tylerpjacobson (Click to Tweet!)
Seek help, put things in perspective and believe that things will get better – because they will.
Tyler Jacobson is a proud father, husband, writer and outreach specialist with experience helping parents and organizations that help troubled teen boys. Tyler has focused on helping through honest advice and humor on: modern day parenting, struggles in school, the impact of social media, addiction, mental disorders, and issues facing teenagers now. Follow Tyler on Twitter and Linkedin.