This post is for you, parents — you know who you are.
If you have a child who is working through some mental health issues, whatever they may be — depression, anxiety, struggling through divorce, friendships, or perfectionism — you should also seek help. Yes you, the parent, should also seek help.
Why? You might be thinking “this is an issue my child is struggling with, I am fine.”
Clear your head, so you can be available for your child
By taking the time to speak to a licensed mental health professional about the struggles going on in your own home, the feelings you have, the concerns you have for your child, you won’t only be helping yourself but you will also be helping your child. Addressing any of the issues you have as a parent is only going to help you to have a clearer head and a firmer grasp on how you can best work with your child in a healthy manner.
You may have heard the phrase “you can’t help others until you help yourself.” This is exactly the truth. When you have a lot of your own stuff going through your head, things you are struggling with personally, fears, worries that may be overwhelming, it is hard to concentrate on much else.
We all have stuff. We have things we struggle with. Things that make it hard for us to think clearly. As a parent you are worried about your child and you want to be there for him/her/they. You want to help them in the best way you can, but that can be hard when you also have your own stuff you are working through.
It’s ok to need help
Working through your own issues with a professional is a gift you can give to both your child and yourself. You will be able to truly give your child what they need if you are not bogged down with your own struggles. It’s ok to need a little help. Parenting for anyone is hard and parenting a child who is struggling with mental health has its own challenges. You need someone to talk to that can not only provide you with perspective but can also guide you to healthy ways to address your personal concerns.
It’s like when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant tells you that, in case of an emergency, you need to put your mask on before you put one on your child. It is a difficult concept. It goes opposite our parental instincts. We always want to protect our children first, but how are you going to help your child if you are passed out? If you don’t first put your mask on you can’t be there for your child.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.