Counselling for Parenting, Step Parenting Issues
As a parent, whatever the family configuration, be it within a traditional nuclear family or now, becoming more common, step-parenting or co-parenting or being a parent as part of a ‘blended’ family, modern domestic set ups can be very complicated and can have many unique challenges.
Counselling for parenting issues and family relationships can help give you a perspective on the situation and address any issues that have arisen or that you anticipate might arise in the future.
What are the challenges connected with the role of a parent?
This long lasting relationship is generally peppered with challenges, moments of panic & despair just as much as those of exhilaration, pride, ‘impossible to bear’, love and awe.
The challenges may vary depending on:
- The stage of our child’s development
- The family situation
- blended family parenting
- single parenting
Parenting issues and worries of the new born or young child
“who is this little person and how will I cope?”
How do I know what the baby needs?
This little being comes into our world without a manual, but with the expectation of being fully understood and cared for. It seems almost impossible that as parents we will somehow manage to figure it out and our precious baby will thrive. This is often the time when parents feel anxious, helpless, tired and to make thigs worse – parents can turn against each other rather than offer support to each other.
How can counselling for new parents help?
Bringing these anxieties to therapy will allow you to hear and understand your worries, identify roots of misunderstanding and miscommunication, find reassurance that you are doing well or identify where help is needed if it turns out that you aren’t coping so well. This is the time when ‘untended to’ anxieties and worries combined with tiredness can develop into post-natal depression
We want out child to be happy
Of course we do, but since we can’t have an adult discussion about it, with them – we impose our own understanding of ‘happiness’ at the expense of not allowing the child to develop their own aspects of personality, possibly that are not noticed or not rated by us. It is too often that we look back and think – I was living my parents’ dreams not mine – and that’s not we want to happen.
How can counselling for parents of young children help?
Therapy can be a place where we examine your own character preferences and identify to what extend they are in tune with your child’s. Some of the character preferences – i.e Introversion and Extroversion can be identified quite early in childhood, and awareness of the Family character preferences can have a great influence of your child’s development.
MBTI useful resources to familiarize yourself with the concept
How do we know we will make the right choices about our children’s future?
Making decisions that will affect your child’s future, is a huge responsibility. To imagine that your choices will determine their education, health ability to relate to others etc. puts a burden on any parent. Such pressure may take away the enjoyment of every day parenthood and contribute to your own anxiety and depression.
How can counselling help parents make choices for their child?
The understanding of attachment patterns and how they are created is a way of allowing ourselves to make the most of being “a good enough parent” whilst understanding to what extent we are mutually dependent and to what extent a child is an independent entity
Parenting issues or challenges of the teenager /young adult
“We are disappointed in you!”
“Why are you disappointed in us?”
We don’t recognise our child!
Our sweet young girl or boy turned into a grunting, opinionated beast who likes nothing better than telling us how we don’t understand anything, and who makes it their daily job to remind us that they are a separate person who knows who they are and what they want. At the same time they ask for money, lifts, unlimited trust and show unbelievable vulnerability to the slightest tremor of social rejection.
“How can we know when the boundaries are right? Not too tight but not too slack?”
“How do you provide a healthy barrier for your child to bounce off and let them know that we “have their back”, and at the same time allow them to take risks and make mistakes?”
How can counselling for parents of teenagers help?
The above dilemmas often come to therapy on the back of the actual events that have already happened and are causing concern
- Is your child taking drugs and doesn’t see it as a problem? (See more about addiction counselling)
- Is your child’s behaviour concerning you? Mood change? Weight loss or gain? It could be depression, eating disorder, being bullied
- Has your child told you they are transgender / bi / gay?
Relationship with ageing parents
As our parents grow older the relationship tends to shift towards us becoming their carers and feeling responsible for their wellbeing. Depending on circumstances we may be faced with numerous dilemmas of a financial, healthcare or existential nature. Physical or mental illness and inability to care for themselves require of us to decide about our own life priorities e.g.
“Who is more important, my mum or my wife and children?”
“How can I leave my parents to be cared for by strangers?”
How can counselling for children caring for ageing parents, help?
The need to make difficult decision and have our values and priorities questioned can cause conflict among siblings and raise questions about our own mortality and attitude to death and life after death. Counselling offers a non-judgmental open setting for exploring those challenges and understanding our deep seated fears, like ‘What is my attitude to death and dying?’ (see Existential Therapy).
Counselling for issues of parenting in adopted families, step-families
It is a reality of our present time that family settings are more fluid than fifty years ago, and being a parent to children form more than one family is more a norm than the exception. In addition to all the challenges listed above there is a pressure on a new parent to be accepted by the child, possibly their grandparents and cousins.
How can counselling for parents in adoptive families help?
Therapy can create an opportunity to discuss and prepare strategies for commonly encountered issues:
- How to structure new family constellations and find meaningful roles for new and old members
- How to negotiate parenting rules between the natural parent and the step-parent, without either party feeling threatened or not respected.
Counselling support for Single parenting
Whether by choice or by circumstance, being a single parent is facing the task of facing all the issues discussed above single handed, whilst attempting to fulfil roles of both parents. Apart from the tremendous pressure of logistics, time and financial security there is often sense of guilt about not being “good enough” and the anxiety of feeling you are possibly impacting your child’s life in some awful way.
How can counselling for single parents help?
In therapy sessions all the anxieties and insecurities can be discussed and dispelled, and your sense of being good enough firmly re-established. It is important to understand that you are not alone and that asking for help is a necessary skill of single parenting. Another one is self-care, a skill that is so easily dropped down on the list of priorities but absolutely essential (remember the old oxygen mask on airplane story… take care of yourself so you can take care of your child)
Some further articles and information around parenting issues and challenges
Coping as parents of a new born:
The NCT’s website has a really helpful page on coping with new borns and the early days of parenting
Parenting young children:
The Parenting by Temperament website has this useful guide to Understanding your child’s personality type
Understanding childhood attachment:
If you would like to understand ‘Attachment’ and issues around this area this website will help you
Caring for older parents:
Sometimes just sharing other peoples troubles and triumphs can help, My Life Films is a website dedicated to allowing people to tell their own stories, this page is all about those caring for or suffering with Dementia