Parenting Issues Therapy in North London
Parenting can be one of the toughest challenges we may face in our lives. Whether we are planning to have our own children (which includes planning for pregnancy, becoming pregnant and then managing being new parents), adopt, foster or ‘blend’ our family with someone else’s, there are difficult things to negotiate along the way. Complicated further as we may bring our experience and behaviour from our upbringing, for better or worse, into our own family dynamic.
As a mother and a working single parent, I fully understand the challenges and frustrations of parenting and negotiating the role. As parents, we are often balancing this with our work, relationships and busy lives, which leaves little time for us to look after ourselves. I bring my own experience and empathy to the parenting issues therapy session.
My work with single parents at the Daubeney Children’s centre and with parents at Hackney Mind has allowed me to gain more understanding and experience of the challenges clients face around parenting. I also work with parents and parenting in private practice and have first hand experience of the benefits of therapy and group support with my own parenting struggles.
What are the challenges of parenting, how can parenting therapy help?
Parenting and families encompass a wide range of experience and depending on your situation you may recognise some of the following challenges which could be causing you stress, frustration, anger or sadness, and where you may be seeking therapy to help:
- I’m struggling to control my anger with my children or partner.
- The style of parenting I received from my own parents doesn’t work for me.
- My partner and I disagree on how to parent our children.
- My step-children do not like or accept me.
- My children are not doing well at school – am I a failed parent?
- I am struggling with the conflicting demands of my job and being a parent.
- There is no romance between myself and my partner since we became parents.
- I’m a single parent and I’m struggling to cope.
- My children are torn between myself and my ex-partner.
- I can’t get along with my children.
- My child is being bullied at school.
- I’m not clear how to keep and hold boundaries with my child or partner
Questions and worries of becoming a parent
Parenting can present challenges from the idea of having children through to the day we die; we never stop being parents once we’ve made that choice. From finding a partner who we want to share parenthood with, we may then experience trouble conceiving or have difficulty in childbirth or post-partum depression and this is often only the beginning. The decision to become parents and the reality of being parents are life changing.
Our relationship to ourselves changes when we take on parenthood. There may be added pressure in terms of responsibility:
- Who will manage the childcare
- Is your living arrangement adequate
- Is there enough money?
These may all be questions that arise.
The challenges of being ‘new’ parents and having our first baby
The first stages of being new parents and organising ourselves around the new set up can present challenges that are unexpected and hard to navigate. In our relationship we have gone from being a couple to a three (or more) and while there can be many wonderful moments in this, there is also a change in identity for both adults which include a shift in working patterns, intimacy and something as basic as good sleep. We can feel isolated and alone in the new experience, sometimes this can lead to seeking security elsewhere and possible affairs. At the very least in can bring out how we respond to stress and change and will impact the relationship with our partner.
I’ve worked with parents on many different aspects of the early stages of parenting and will help you by supporting you through the stresses during this period. We can fall into patterns of blame and arguing with our partner and family, so I will be helping you to understand your emotional responses to your altered circumstances and find practical solutions to some of the common ‘parenting issues’ like managing new responsibilities and developing skills at balancing all your new tasks and priorities.
The struggles of parenting from toddler to teenager
Once we begin to get the hang of parenting, our children change and develop which may require a new way of responding. We may also have different parenting styles to our partner, which is part of what we are navigating on a day to day basis. Learning to have our boundaries, understanding our attachment style and understanding our relationship to ourselves can be a rich mine of information about how we then manage our relationships with partners and children. Often, we are learning on the hoof, as our children begin to go through the experience of separation, interaction (bullying), socialisation and learning of their own. It can bring up feelings and experiences in us we left behind or learned to protect from many years ago.
From day to day issues, such as structure and how much screen time you allow your children, to maintaining your own sense of identity and self we may struggle with the various feelings and behaviours surrounding parenting, which we can share and find solutions for in therapy.
Therapy can help you make choices that work while struggling with toddler tantrums all the way through to the moody or rebellious teenager. Sometimes parenting at this time is about learning negotiating skills and how to set boundaries that you maintain. It’s also an important time to make sure you respond to your own needs and with the support of therapy you can maintain your sense of worth and individuality.
Challenges of blended families and single parenting
It’s not very often you meet a typical nuclear family , but more commonly we are a blend of wider family, friends and support. It can be tough navigating the melding of two disparate families in the event of a new relationship post-divorce or breakup. Whether the children are little or teenagers, there may be shock, loss, sadness and anger. The children can feel powerless as it’s not something they chose, which may mean they blame you and feel shame themselves. It can be isolating and challenging managing shared parenting after a split and learning to become parents on our own. Whether you are the man or woman, single parenting essentially means you are often making decisions and choices on your own, you may have less money and support. You may also be leaving an abusive relationship and be in the process of building your life afresh and finding out who you are again. Therapeutic support as a single parent (single mother or father) can help you make the choices you would like, become clearer on your boundaries and explore a more satisfying way of living for you and your child.
When faced with the challenges of blended families or being a single parent and negotiating joint parenting the most important skills are how we communicate and how we respond to and support ourselves . Unless there is a complete split (i.e. no further contact with your ex partner), you will have a relationship for life with your ex partner around your child/children. Parenting therapy can be an essential support through one of the most challenging times many of us with ever face. We will work together to understand your feelings and frustrations and finding practical and supportive ways for you to be fulfilled and happy.
Coping with being a parent through divorce and separation
Whilst the pain of staying in a dysfunctional or even a good relationship can be hard work, sometimes we choose to end our relationships as we cannot see a way forward. This may be in response to an affair, abuse and overall a dissatisfaction in our relationship that remains unresolved. Most people do not make the choice to end their marriage or relationship lightly, particularly when it involves children. The impact of a broken family on the individual and group can be traumatic and long lasting. The past and future dream of our family unit have been broken and it may be hard to see a way forward. The family may benefit from group therapy and individual therapy can support us to process and find a way to heal the pain and see new options and create new dreams.
At this time parenting and personal therapy can help to support you to ensure that your children don’t get caught up in the crossfire, after all they are not the ones ‘divorcing’ or ‘separating’ from their mother or father.
Parenting our parents
As we navigate parenting as our children grow and develop we may find ourselves in the position of caring for our parents as they grow older and more dependent. If we are lucky and have good relationships with our parents, they will be relatively independent and might have saved and planned for their retirement and old age. However, it is likely that at some point our parents will become too old and therefore unable to completely care for themselves. There are difficult choices to make around care of elderly parents and relatives, whilst maintaining a fulfilling and satisfying life for ourselves and family.
Parenting therapy can help by offering you a space to voice your sadness, worries, concerns and frustrations when you find yourself in this challenging situation. Sometimes feelings of resentment and annoyance can begin to build and subsume those of love, care and support. Therapy can help support you to find a better balance and more satisfying experience when managing issues and relationships with our parents ill health and aging.
Parenting therapy with Abi Jude
Whether you are in crisis and struggling with the day to day demands of being a parent and partner, or would like more specific help with issues surrounding parenting, please get in touch to discuss how I can help you find a different way of living…
Helpful advice for parents
Gingerbread offer support and advice for single parent families