Being a parent is never an easy job. If your children act out, it is that much harder. But even well behaved children will add stress to your life. This is on top of all the other areas of stress that you have.
Our world has become very fast-paced. People are not as patient these days. You may have noticed this at your workplace. With all the layoffs and hiring freezes, fewer employees are left to perform more and more duties. Then there is the extra stress of wondering if you will be the next one to be laid off.
If you or your spouse has already lost a job, you are well aware of the financial pressure you’re under. It costs a lot to live. Just because your paycheck has stopped coming, doesn’t mean the bills do. You still have to pay for things like housing, utilities, gas, food, and clothing. This is hard enough to provide for yourself. It is even harder when you have a family to support.
It is easy to see how these types of frustrations could be taken out on children. The American Psychiatric Association cites child abuse as a major health problem. Parents who try to calm themselves through alcohol and drug use are only adding to the problem.
So how can one be a loving, responsible parent during stressful times?
Inform, but don’t burden, your kids
Be open with your kids about some of the stresses you are facing. Chances are they have already noticed the extra tension in the house. By talking with them about your struggles, they will better understand why sometimes you act upset at them for no real reason. Reassure your children that they are not to blame for the pressures you are feeling from work, bills, etc. Don’t leave them feeling fearful or hopeless about the situation. Instead, try to paint as positive a picture as you realistically can.
Exercise, eat right, and get proper rest
One way to improve your mental outlook is to take care of yourself physically. By exercising, getting enough rest, and eating well, you will be in a much better condition to handle the stresses of life. You will also feel better about yourself, and better about your situation.
Keep your cool
Try not to reach an emotional boiling point while your kids are around. Count to 10 when you are angry. Take deep breaths. Go outside, or at least into another room, until you have calmed down. Have the other parent, close friend or neighbor watch the kids while you take a break to unwind. Don’t make matters worse by turning to drugs or alcohol, and never take out your frustrations on your children.
Be honest with yourself. Parenting is a tough job and everyone needs help from time to time. This is especially true if you are a single parent. If the pressure is getting to you, then get help right away. Call a friend or family member. Discuss it with your pastor. Seek out a counselor. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of maturity.