Becoming a parent is supposed to be a great achievement; providing a sense of purpose and joy to your life. However, did you realize that all parents go through times of struggle?

A child is a complex thing. Before having kids, it might seem easy. You feed them, you provide them a place to live and clothes on their backs and everything should be good. However, once you do have kids, you realize that the reality is that a child – no matter how young – has their own personality, their own desires and needs and their own thoughts. In most circumstances, parents can handle the conflicts as they arise. These could be as simple as dealing with the “terrible two’s” or trying to explain to a teenager why their curfew is 11 o’clock and not a minute later. However, there are times when parents feels overwhelmed by their responsibilities and needs some help.

Challenges Faced by Parenting

Growing a child from infancy to adulthood is a huge, intricate process. There is physical growth. There is emotional growth. There is spiritual growth. Add to the mix that children often try to assert their independence when they’re not fully ready and that parents must then rein them in and you can often get a volatile mix.

Communication is one of the biggest issues facing parents. Children often “tune out” their parents because they think that their parents are stupid. One of the greatest jokes is that as children grow from the ages of 13 and 20, the parents all of a sudden become a lot smarter. During this stage, though - because a child may truly believe their parents don’t know what they’re talking about, they won’t even pretend to listen.

Most families today are double-income families. Both parents must work and some parents even work a second job or go to school, making time a precious commodity. Children are only little once and parents must struggle with putting their time towards their responsibilities and future or spending their time to their children. Although quality time is important, quantity is equally important. No matter how high of quality time you can spend together, you cannot expect to be a good parent if you only have 30 minutes per week to spend with the child.

The goal of parenting is to raise a successful, happy, independent child. This means allowing your child to make their own decisions. This can be very difficult for parents, especially as they see their children making bad choices. No parent wants to see their child suffer the consequences of a bad choice, yet without practice making choices, the child will not grow emotionally. There is a fine line that a parent has to follow when figuring out when to step in and when to provide emotional support for a bad choice. And that fine line is not always easily visible. Many a parent loses sleep over this challenge.

Discipline is another challenge. It can be very confusing knowing what to do. When should a parent use positive reinforcement? When should a parent use time-outs and when should a parent ground their child. How much confrontation should there be over an issue? The list of questions can go on and on and when the answers are: It depends upon the situation - it’s easy to get confused.

Even parents with healthy, happy children can struggle. But – if you happen to have a child with special needs or one that is struggling with behavior or educational issues, the stress gets bigger and bigger until it becomes devastating.

How Parenting Affects a Marriage

Many couples find that their relationship drastically changes when they have children. Before children, the couple can just pick up and go to the concert or take an impromptu romantic weekend at the beach. After children, the reality is much different. Parents need to learn how to work together as a team in a new way. They must learn how to compromise in issues such as discipline and when to let go. It’s an entirely new dynamic that can definitely provide a challenge to new parents.

Second marriages can be especially concerning. When you add in step-children and ex-spouses, the idea of a happy blended family can seem like an impossible dream. Due to the complexities in some blended families, the stresses parents feel can seem daunting at times.

How Therapy Can Help

Even for the most successful parents, therapy can be a huge bonus. The therapist can help provide an objective set of eyes as well as practical guidance for all involved. Sometimes a teenager will listen to a therapist when he won’t listen to his own parents. The therapist can help normalize a child’s development when the child is struggling to keep up with his peers. Therapists can also provide assistance in the form of providing new parenting techniques and can definitely provide encouragement through the tough times parents face. Given all of the challenges of parenting, it’s no surprise that everyone needs a little bit of help once in awhile.

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