Do you feel like your parenting alone?
I’m guessing many of you as you read this are nodding yes or saying it out loud or in your mind.
You are not alone.
So many moms feel as if they are parenting alone.
And I hear this all the time in the therapy room.
Take a minute and ask yourself the following:
- When it comes to the direct care of the kids, does the majority of childcare falls on you?
- Are you in charge of the indirect responsibilities of caring for your child? ( for example, all the details such as buying shoes, clothes, diapers, packing lunches, things needed for daycare or school, permission forms, scheduling and taking to dr appts, signing up for sports and enrichment activities, driving all around, making sure homework and reading done,etc.)
- Are you the parent most knowledgeable about child development and share this information with your partner?
- Are you responsible for most of the parenting, coaching, and emotional support for your child? (for example, teaching right and wrong, setting expectations and limits for behavior and consequences for behavior)?
- Are you tired of the constant delegating, repeating yourself or asking for help from your partner?
- Have you stopped asking for help from your partner because it’s easier not to ask than to be disappointed when they don’t listen or help?
If you said yes to four or more, you’re not just feeling as if you’re parenting alone, you actually are.
Not only have I heard themes like this therapy hours for years, but I also see this reflected in the quiz I developed: Are You a Burned Out Mom? When asked about the support received through parenting, of the 16.3K (yes, that’s 16,300 moms!) moms who’ve taken the quiz:
- 33% of moms sometimes receive support
- 20% of moms rarely receive support
- and 9% of moms never receive support
Which if you add it all up, 62% of mom who’ve taken the Are You a Burned Out Mom Quiz report are getting less support than they need. Perhaps this is contributing to mom burnout. On the flip side, 38% of moms who took the quiz are getting adequate to high support.
Moms who take the Are You a Burned Out Mom Quiz, are asked to share what they struggle most with parenting. And by far, the most shared struggles include:
- Being Exhausted
- Not having enough time
- Parenting alone
Can you relate?
For over a decade in the therapy room, supporting mostly moms, here’s what I often hear from those who are parenting alone:
- They can’t rely on their partner
- Different parenting styles are getting in the way of cooperatively parenting
- There are problems with cooperation and power struggles
- And issues with communication
- Often there are expectations or beliefs (whether spoken or unspoken) one person is expected to do most of the child-rearing
- Many moms share, their partners feel more like a child than a partner: needing constant direction, reminders, and how to do things
- Their partner has no interest in learning about child development or parenting skills and strategies
- Their partners use ‘personal experience( e.g., ‘I parent how I was raised’ or logic that may not be taking into consideration child development or healthy parenting skills).
- Partner is not supportive of rules, expectations, and rhythm of the child’s schedule and responsibilities.
So the larger question is: what to do about it?
First, if you’re parenting alone, being able to acknowledge this and identify the problem is the first step in working toward a solution. Thankfully, there is hope, and there is a lot you can do. My belief is once you identify the problem or issue, you can work on creative problem solving, which is a team approach from with you and your partner.
Practically speaking, the next step is to set aside undivided time to communicate, where you’re both not multitasking or distracted, and express your concerns and perspective.
And be mindful that when you do communicate with one another, use language that connects rather than divides. For example, starting sentences with, ‘You never’ or ‘You’re always’ is dividing a team approach to problem-solving and increases conflict. Instead, use ‘I’ statements. Such as, ‘I feel overwhelmed. I’ve been parenting alone, and I need your help and commitment to do more.’ or, ‘I’m not feeling supported, and when I repeat myself constantly, I get frustrated and angry. I’ve been parenting alone, and I’m feeling exhausted and angry about it. I want to work together and divide responsibilities, and I want to feel more supported.’ Pick and choose what phrases or words are meaningful to you, but this gives you an idea of how to use the skill of communicating using ‘I’ statements which connect, versus, ‘You’ statements which increase conflict, defensiveness and divide couples.
Next, it’s going to be important to identify and understand your parenting style and your partners. To learn more about your parenting styles, check out this post I wrote: What Type of Parent Are You? Four Parenting Styles Summarized.
Then I would suggest sharing what you need support with and the actions that can happen to work together as parents.
With compassion and an open heart, work to resolve the issues by creating solutions, not more conflict by blaming or holding resentments.
I would also suggest understanding child development. Being aware of how the age (and stage) of development your child is in is expressed through physical, emotional, cognitive and social behaviors. A fantastic resource is the website created by the American Academy of Pediatrics, called Healthy Children.org. Here, you’ll find great resources by medical and mental health professionals with practical guides and how to’s from trusted professionals. Another great site for parents is Dr. Laura Markham’s site, Aha-Parenting, a website dedicated to peaceful parenting. Be sure to sign-up for her newsletters and explore her site because she has incredible information and resources for parents throughout childhood into adolescence.
And finally, if all of this overwhelms you and you don’t know where to begin or if you and your sweetie are too stressed or can’t seem to work together, reach out to a mental health professional for counseling to learn how to support one another effectively.
I’d love to hear how this post inspired you, what you’d like to learn more about, and how it’s helped you and your sweetie. And be sure to share what’s worked for you to feel supported as a parent.
© Dr. Claire Nicogossian 2019