A challenge: Parenting

Parenting requires more than giving life to another human being. Being a parent is a multi-faceted full-time job that is oftentimes emotionally taxing, exhausting, and incredibly rewarding. Some people feel they were brought into this world to be a parent, while others never thought it possible to be a parent. What those groups have in common is the need to child-rear, whether prepared or not.

From reading articles online to having lunch with every parent in the neighborhood, nothing truly prepares a parent to experience parenthood until they are fully responsible for the life of another human being, be it of their own flesh and blood or otherwise. Parenting is difficult and must be adaptive. Infants grow into toddlers. Toddlers grow into small children. Small children grow into large children. Large children become adolescents. Then, parent’s blink and somehow their babies grew into adults. Those transitions can be strenuous, but given the proper tools, manageable.

According to Galinsky (1981) there are six stages of parenthood: image-making stage/pregnancy, nurturing stage/birth – 24 months, authoritative stage/2-5 years old, interpretive stage/preschool-adolescence, independent stage/during adolescence, and the departure stage. It is important to note that adoptive parents and step-parents can begin the parental process at any stage.

Galinsky, Ellen, The six stages of parenthood

In the image-making/pregnancy stage, parents wonder what their new life will be like and how this baby will affect their relationships with one another and the outside world. Parents begin to hope and dream for their child while grow increasingly worried about their child’s well-being in relation to health and potential birth complications. Parents are learning how to adjust their thinking to include that of a completely dependent human being.

In the nurturing stage/birth – 24 months, parents are creating a bond and attachment with their baby/babies. At this stage, parents are managing their baby’s basic needs like feeding, clothing, housing, and changing. This is the stage that typical parents determine what to do in regard to work schedules. One parent may go back to work while the other stays home with the baby. Both parents may go back to work and entrust the baby to someone in childcare. This has the potential to create some friction and stress between parents in their relationship.

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In the authoritative stage/2-5 years old parents create disciplinary measures to be followed while establishing limits and a solid set of morals for their child. This is the stage where the child is restricted for safety purposes but is riddled with curiosity. Parents in this stage have trouble between allowing their child to grow and develop in their curiosity while also keeping them safe from any potential harm.

In the interpretive stage/preschool-adolescence stage, parents are preoccupied with helping their child see the consequences of their actions and building healthy relationships with others. During this stage, parents’ expectations of their children may not match their children’s’ behaviors. This may lead to feelings of self-doubt and failure. This feeling is universal and is the marks the beginning of the transition to autonomy.

In the independent stage/during adolescence, parents experience their relationships with their children as evolving. Parents encourage their children to be more part of decision-making, but this is a difficult time for adolescents. They are searching for their own identity, which may not align with how their parents raised them, while still needing stability and financial support from their parents.

In the departure stage, parents let go of child-rearing and watch their children transition into full-fledged adulthood. Parents transition often into a painful process of learning how to live without needing to be a parent. Without a child to raise, there is no job in the home to be done in regard to their child. Parents’ relationships with their children change and may even flourish into a strong friendship.

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The stages of parenthood require commitment and trial and error. Disciplining children is not an easy task and calls for high levels of patience. Disciplining children can induce stress and anxiety across all stages. For example, a child who is repeatedly told not to throw their toys into the window, may do so anyway. At that point, what method of safe and supportive child-rearing is a parent supposed to utilize? Should they remove the toys? Should they give an example of what could happen if the toy breaks the window? How can the explanations be translated into language a child can comprehend? In the same token, an adolescent may utilize sarcasm in response to a disciplinary action, which may induce irritation, frustration, and anger in parents. Adolescents push boundaries often and it sometimes feels impossible to get them back on track.

Although it seems like no level of preparation actually prepares you for parenting, people become parents and get through the peaks and troughs every single day and you can too.

Accessing help:
The psychotherapy and consultation can be helpful for being a parent, more importantly a sensible parent. The psychotherapist would engage you in talk therapy and help you restore a sense of harmony and mental stability. And the address of getting help from any professional is Seeking Shalom. Seeking Shalom has trained and experienced therapists. Seeking Shalom works with children, adolescents and adults. It offers you two contexts to help you come out from the fear of being a good parent and will help you to overcome. If you are having trouble parenting and would like someone to walk beside you through this difficult time, Seeking Shalom welcomes you. As trained and empathetic professionals, we share the desire to be your stepping stone to better living. You can engage in weekly individual/family therapy or in a twelve week group setting where you get to interact with persons like yourself and together learn helpful strategies and techniques to deal with the problem. To pursue any of these options you can contact us via telephone at 212-655-9605. We would be happy to help you on this journey to healthier living. We thank you for your courage in taking the first step towards letting go of what was and inching towards what could be.

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