Parenting is one of the most rewarding roles in life, but it can also be one of the most challenging. As parents, we can expect to face difficulties like the pressures of maintaining a healthy family balance, battling behavioural issues, and having to make difficult decisions — all of which can take its toll on our mental and physical health.
Fortunately, resilience is an important asset in parenting. Being resilient allows us to accept and work through our struggles, as well as to provide our children with a secure and stable home environment. Therefore, developing resilience as a parent is essential if we want to give our children a safe, healthy and supportive home life.
What is Resilience?
Resilience is our ability to recovery and cope with challenging life experiences. It is an important tool for parenting, as it gives us the ‘bounceback-ability’ we need when times get tough. With resilience, we are able to roll with the punches, accept our shortcomings and trials, and look for solutions to our problems. It helps us to keep going, even in the darkest of moments.
Developmental Stages of a Resilient Parent
There are a few key stages of development that all parents should consider to become more resilient:
- Self-Awareness: Acknowledging and understanding our own thoughts and behaviour, including our successes and failures, allows us to become more self-aware. This understanding can then be used to shape how we parent, adjusting our strategies to become more effective and empathetic.
- Setting Realistic Expectations: Setting parental expectations that are too high can easily lead to “over-parenting”, which suppresses our children’s independence, ability to problem-solve and ultimately, their own resilience.
- Healthy Communication and Problem-Solving: A strong relationship between parents and their children is promoted by supportive and effective communication, and problem-solving techniques. Being able to openly communicate, listen and respond to our children’s needs, feelings, and opinions promotes desirable behaviours in our children, as it provides them with a secure, productive and non-judgemental environment.
- Practise Self-Care: Even when there’s very little time for ourselves, fitting in small acts of self-care can go a long way. This can be anything from a hobby, drawing, reading or even practising a few mindful breaths throughout the day. Allowing ourselves to “recharge” boots our energy and prevents us from becoming exhausted and overwhelmed, helping us to become better equipped in coping with parenting pressures.
Practical Steps to Developing Resilience
Once we are aware of the steps to developing resilience, we can then apply these methods to our parenting experience. Here are some practical steps to help manage our parenting pressures and make sure we are equipped with the right tools to tackle our struggles:
- Expect Difficulties & Setbacks: Being a parent is not always easy, and it is important to accept the ups and downs that come with it. It is also essential to remain flexible and open-minded to unforeseen events, since life is never completely smooth!
- Be Kind to Yourself: As a parent, it easy to become fixated with making sure that we are doing the best we can for our children. While this aim is commendable, it is imperative that we also offer ourselves the same understanding, sympathy and care that we offer our children.
- Keep Connected With Others: Building and nurturing a supportive network of family and friends is an important way of finding balance and maintaining our resilience. Talking to those who understand us and share our values can be a valuable source of advice and reassurance.
- Take Regular Breaks: Parenting can be exhausting and stressful at times, but in order to remain resilient, it is essential that we take a break from time to time. Taking breaks from the pressures of parenting and from everyday tasks, allows us to clear our heads, take a step back, and have a fresh perspective when needed.
Maintaining resilience as a parent requires us to practice self-reflection, self-care and open communication. By developing our resilience and understanding our needs and strengths, it allows us to become better equipped in equipping our children with the security and nurturance they need in order to thrive.
Therefore, developing resilience as a parent is an important tool to maintain our well-being, create secure and supportive home environments, and to provide our children with the support and nurturance they deserve.