Parents’ Stress can be over-whelming. It keeps changing its form as your baby progresses from childhood to teenage to adulthood. Before you can be free of the parents’ stress, you need to understand it at a deeper level than what generally learn from talking to other parents or reading books about parenting.
Parents’ Stress when a child is a Toddler
Parents’ stress as well joy starts the moment your baby is born.
From the first moment you lay eyes on your newborn baby, you fall in love – the kind of love you never felt before. You pretty much put your life on hold to raise your baby in the best possible way. You make your baby the top most priority in your life. You want to be the perfect parent.
You change diapers, prepare special baby food and give baths. You start to understand her needs simply from the sound of her cry. You can distinguish her cry for food from the cry when she has too much gas or the cry when she’s wet. You carry her in your arms and walk and sing till she stops crying and falls sleep. Then, you gently lay her down in the crib to make sure her sleep isn’t disturbed because you know how easily she can wake up and start crying which means you’ll have to walk another half hour.
At work, you proudly talk to your colleagues about your wonderful child. You can’t wait to get home and start playing with her. It brings you and your child such sheer joy. You don’t mind crawling on your knees, sitting in awkward positions in her doll house and drinking lots and lots of imaginary tea. When she gets sick, you feel all of her pains: your chest hurts when she coughs and your heart bleeds if she gets a cut.
You play with her as well as teach her things she needs to learn, such as brushing her teeth, brushing her hair and taking a bath. You help her learn to walk and talk. You teach her how to play in the park, how to swing, how to catch a ball and how to tie her shoe laces. You read bed time stories to your child and rub her back until she falls asleep.
You buy her toys, movies and video games. You take her to neighborhood parks and theme parks. You want her to have a lot of fun as well as learn everything that other kids are learning. You don’t want her to be left behind. You celebrate her birthday in the best possible way you can. You also take her to other kids birthday parties. You want her to acquire socializing skills.
You also feel an intense desire to protect your fragile and innocent baby from any danger. You do NOT want any bad thing EVER to happen to her. Even the idea of any possible harm to your baby keeps you awake at night. You know you wouldn’t think twice to sacrifice your life in order to save the life of your child.
You and your baby get bonded together. Then one day, you take her to Day Care. You feel the agonizing pain of guilt as you leave her behind as she cries miserably. And this happens every day until she slowly mellows out. Then, one day you have to leave her with a baby sitter. You re-experience the intense pain of guilt when she grabs you and begs you not to leave or take her with you.
Then comes schooling. You happily get involved in her classroom as well as school activities. You help her do her homework, get ready in the morning, drive her to school and pick her back up after school. You also get her involved in all sorts of after-school and weekend activities such as gymnastics, dance, baseball, basketball, soccer, etc. You may even offer to be the coach of her team or the mom of her class.
You make friends with the parents of her friends. Now you happily entertain not only your own kid, but also her friends and their families. Then one day, she asks to sleep over at her best friend’s home, which you permit. But when you get home after dropping her off and realize your home is so quiet without your baby, a shiver of emptiness runs through your body. You miss your baby, but manage to sleep through the night.
As your child grows older, she starts to learn all sorts of concepts, good and bad, mostly from her friends. You see her needs changing. You continue to provide her with guidance. At times, her innocent questions shake up your concepts and beliefs, but you manage to come up with answers that satisfy her curiosity.
At times, she wants things her way and will not listen to you. Then, you are left with no option but to discipline her. Inside, you don’t like to punish your own precious little child, but you have to do it for her own sake, so she grows up to be a better person.
Most of the time, your child provides you with a lot of love. She makes you feel like the king of the hill. You feel proud to raise such a happy child. You are proud of her achievements. You are there to provide support, guidance and comfort. You feel so much “in demand.”
Parents’ Stress when a child is a Teenager
Parents’ stress gets in high gear as your child becomes a teenager and with that, everything changes. Your castle of happiness starts to crumble. Your loving child, who was so attached to you, doesn’t want to have anything to do with you any more! No more playing together, no more going to park or to the mall together. No more watching movies together. She doesn’t even want your help with homework. Now, she wants to do everything with her friends and you are not welcome.
She doesn’t even want to talk to you much. Each time you try to have a conversation, she ends it with one or two sentences such as “I’m not a child any more.” She sits with you in the car, but prefers to listen to her iPod or text her friends. You feel like a cab driver. Sometimes, she may even make insulting remarks to you. “I know everything what I’m doing. I don’t need your advice.” or” Not again. You’ve told me this story million times.” She may even judge you to be outdated, because you don’t know anything about what’s going on in the world. Your loving child, who constantly gave you hugs and kisses, now runs away if you try to hug or kiss her.
What happened to my loving child? You feel so bruised. Your heart aches. You are not needed any more. You feel worthless. You feel like an old piece of furniture, an invisible person. What went wrong? You have no clue.
Sometimes, your teenager may be nice to one parent and not to the other. Then, you experience the gnawing pain of jealousy. The favored parent may even take advantage of this preferred relationship, which slips you deeper into the dark hole of isolation, bitterness and worthlessness. “What happened to the united front we are supposed to have in front of our children?” you ask. You may disagree with your spouse about “how to deal with this teenager!” Spousal disagreements lead to frequent heated arguments. Your loving home changes into a pit of hate and anger. You are stressed out at work and stressed out at home. Life becomes unbearable. You may seek refuge in a divorce which, however, brings on its own demands and challenges.
Your teenager may be doing fine, but you are not. She may have good grades, a lot of friends, and no trouble with the teachers or police. She is a good teenager. So why are you stressed out? There is no satisfactory answer. You may even find a few flaws in her: She doesn’t eat healthy. She doesn’t exercise enough. She doesn’t clean up her dishes after meals. She doesn’t dress up properly for school. However, you know these are minor things. You should not be stressed out, but you are.
Or your teenager may have problems in school: failing her classes, fighting with other teenagers, breaking the rules. She might even have trouble with law, have irresponsible sexual behavior, alcohol abuse and/or drug addiction and their horrendous consequences. This obviously adds to your frustrations. You become a frequent visitor to the principal’s office. You may even attend seminars on how to improve your relationship with your teenager, how to deal with alcohol and drug addictions and how to discipline your teenager. However, in the end, nothing seems to work.
You feel like a failure. The more you try, the more you lose control. You often stay frustrated and easily get into a rage. You may lash out at your colleagues or customers at work, snap at your spouse, get into road rages, etc. You also have to work hard to fulfill your teenager’s financial needs. Often, you have to work long hours and don’t have much social time with your teenager except on weekends, but then on weekends, your teenager has his own plans and you’re not included. Sometimes, you feel like nothing more than a “financial support system,” which makes you bitter inside.
At the same time, you worry a lot about your teenager’s career. You realize that one has to have a college degree, preferably from a reputable university, in order to get a good job. You also see how competitive it is to get into good universities. You feel like you are in a race. You feel intense pressure inside. In addition, even if your teenager gets into a good university, it is very expensive. Thinking about the finances can be overwhelming and can rob you of a good night of sleep.
The ever increasing load of parents’ stress often starts to affect your health. You may start to suffer from insomnia, anxiety, forgetfulness, stress eating, weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attacks. Your physician may put you on a sleeping pill, blood pressure medicines, diabetes medicines, heart medicines and anti-anxiety as well as anti-depression medicines. Your rising medicine costs, escalating health insurance premiums and unrelenting doctors’ bills further add to your stress. Now you constantly worry about your health in addition to worrying about your family’s future. In summary, you are in a big mess and don’t have a clue how to be free of it………………………………………………………………..
Excerpts from ” Stress management for Teenagers, Parents And Teachers.