The stress that comes with parenthood is immense. To find the perfect balance between work, marriage, finances and at the same time, raise the children in the best possible way is not an easy task and it becomes very stressful for parents to meet up all the demands of life equally well.
Parenting stress cannot be avoided. Be it pregnancy, delivery, feeding, schooling or teaching discipline to kids, each day brings new challenge for the parents and fighting with the daily hazards often make them “fatigued”. Alicia H. Clark, PsyD says “Even for the most skilled parents, parenting a child who has intense emotions isn’t easy.”
LAZARUS’ MODEL OF PARENTAL STRESS
The parental stress model given by Lazarus (1993) clearly shows the causes of stress and the reactions to it.
|Agent of stress||Appraisal of stress||Coping mechanisms||Stress Responses|
|The person or thing that causes stress.
Example :– A child demanding for a toy.
|Parental Interpretation of the stress (may be positive or negative).
Example :- My child is behaving like this because he is not feeling well.
|How a parent copes with the behaviour.
Example :- Parent can ignore or talk to the child about the behaviour exhibited.
|How the parent reacts instantly.
Example :- It is a nice toy and I know you want it. But I need you to be patient now. We will talk about this later.
What parents can do to reduce stress
- Take out time for yourself – Parenting is a part of life, just like job or marriage. Parents often become overwhelmed after having child and devote all of their energy into raising the child. It seems all fun initially, but slowly it becomes a mental block and increases stress. It is a must for parents to find out some “me-time” and indulge into activities they love to do. It may be music, sports, or hanging out with friends — take out time for yourself. It refills the mind with energy to perform the responsibilities efficiently.
- Have a support system – Parenthood is a long journey with no breaks. There is nothing better than having a support system with whom you can talk your problems out. For single parents especially, it is a tough job to manage all single handed. A confidante can have a huge impact. It may be any family member, friend or even a paid surrogate who may help the parent in handling the stresses. Take note that Brent Blaisdell, PsyD said “Family members need to verbally compliment one another.”
- Spend quality time with your children – One of the best ways to reduce parenting stress is to have fun with your kids. Make a schedule every week and enjoy with your kids. Go out, eat together, read out to them, play with them. Give all the attention that your child wants from you. It not only reduces parenting stress but also brings you closer to your child.
- Never blame yourself – Do not underestimate yourself as a parent. Remember that being perfect in anything is not possible. Accept the limitations and keep doing your best without regrets. Underestimating oneself also conveys a negative message for your child.
- Seek professional help – It is always good to consult a professional in the face of a serious trouble. Specially for children in the growing ages, there can be several challenging issues like parental discord, early relationships, substance abuse, peer influence, academic under achievements, that puts huge stress to the parent-child relationship. Taking the help of a life coach or a mental health professional in such situations can do wonders. It not only reduces the stress, but also provides suitable ways of handling the crisis.
- Don’t take matters too seriously – Let things happen in its natural way. Parents should realize that they are not in control of everything that happens in the child’s life. Learn to “take it easy”. Do not stress over small matters that would stand nowhere in the future. Be friendly with your children. It is a big stress reliever as it brings the child closer to parents and allows him/her to confide in them. Getting stressed and reacting would just make things worse.
Deniz Ahmadinia, PsyD said “The high demands of busy schedules, the pressure to ‘do it all’ and achieve can lead us to become so caught up in daily tasks that the richness of raising children becomes reduced to managing family life, instead of simply being with our children.”
Reducing stress not only facilitates the parents also provides a healthy environment for growing up kids. Being a parent, one can never eliminate stress totally, but remember that you are in charge of how you choose to react to it. So think positive, de-stress yourself and enjoy parenthood.