Employee and Family
CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs Head Office: Suite 600, Bow Valley Square 4, 250 - 6 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta T2P3H7 Telephone (403) 263-2200 Fax (403) 256-8291 E-mail: email@example.com November 2001
Children and The Stress of Parenting
As parents, we have to learn our jobs as we go along. Although we love our children, we soon realize that love isn't all that's needed. We need patience and creativity too, and sometimes, these qualities seem to be in short supply. Learning how to be a parent will probably continue until all your children are grown up. Because each child is unique, what worked with Joe will not necessarily work with Sally, and what worked for Sally probably will not help you cope with George.
Caring for small children is tiring. On bad days, we can feel trapped by the constant responsibility. Caring for older children is less physically draining but more worrisome because they spend much more time outside the home.
If there are young children in the family, there may not be enough time for parents to find time to spend together just enjoying each other's company. Single parents have difficulty finding time and energy to have a social life. Parents with full-time jobs have difficulty finding family play-time. Calendars tend to become over-scheduled. We all need time for ourselves, to concentrate on hobbies or interests, or just to relax.
HAVE A REALISTIC ATTITUDE
Most parents have high expectations of how things should be -we all want a perfect family and we all worry about how our children will turn out. It is important to remember there are no perfect children and no perfect parents. All children misbehave some times. Parents can make mistakes. Wanting the ideal family can get in the way of enjoying the one you have.
You may worry about whether your children will be successful. Remember - they are each individuals. Accept them for who they are. Children who are loved, encouraged and allowed to grow up at their own pace will develop good self-esteem and confidence.
It is helpful to step back and take a long-range point of view. Have confidence that things will turn out well. Children can go through difficult stages. What is stressful today may resolve itself in a short time.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE THE SYMPTOMS OF STRESS
Stress becomes a problem when you feel overwhelmed by the things that happen to you. You may feel "stressed out" when it seems there is too much to deal with all at once, and you are not sure how to handle it all.
When you feel stressed, you usually have some physical symptoms. You can feel tired, get headaches, stomach upsets or backaches, clench your jaw or grind your teeth, develop skin rashes, have recurring colds or flu, have muscle spasms or nervous twitches, or have problems sleeping.
Mental signs of stress include feeling pressured, having difficulty concentrating, being forgetful and having trouble making decisions.
Emotional signs include feeling angry, frustrated, tense, anxious, or more aggressive than usual.
HOW CAN YOU COPE?
Coping with the stress of parenting starts with understanding what makes you feel stressed, learning to recognize the symptoms of too much stress, and learning some new ways of handling life's problems. You may not always be able to tell exactly what is causing your emotional tension, but it is important to remind yourself that it is not your children's fault.
We all have reactions to life's events which are based on our own personal histories. For the most part, we never completely understand the deep-down causes of all our feelings. What we must realize is that our feelings of stress come from inside ourselves and that we can learn to keep our stress reactions under control. Here are some tips which can help:·
DEVELOP GOOD RELATIONSHIPS
Family relationships are built over time with loving care and concern for other people's feelings. Talk over family problems in a warm, relaxed atmosphere. Focus on solutions rather than finding blame. If you are too busy or upset to listen well at a certain time, say so. Then agree on a better time, and make sure to do it. Laugh together, be appreciative of each other, and give compliments often. It may be very hard to schedule time to spend with your family, doing things that you all enjoy, but it is the best time you will ever invest.
Parents and children need time to spend one-to-one. Whether yours is a one or two-parent family, each parent should try to find a little time to spend alone with each child. You could read a bedtime story, play a game, or go for a walk together.
The teen years pose some of the most difficult challenges for families. Teenagers, dealing with hormone changes and an ever-complex world, may feel that no one can understand their feelings, especially parents. As a result, the teen may feel angry, alone and confused while facing complicated issues about identity, peers, sexual behavior, drinking and drugs.
Parents may be frustrated and angry that the teen seems to no longer respond to parental authority. Methods of discipline that worked well in earlier years may no longer have an effect. And, parents may feel frightened and helpless about the choices their teen is making.
As a result, the teen years are ripe for producing
conflict in the family. Typical areas of parent-teen conflict
Dealing with the issues of adolescence can be trying for all concerned. But families are generally successful at helping their children accomplish the developmental goals of the teen years -- reducing dependence on parents, while becoming increasingly responsible and independent.
However, there are a number of warning signs that things are not going well and that the family may want to seek outside help. These include aggressive behavior or violence by the teen, drug or alcohol abuse, promiscuity, school truancy, brushes with the law or runaway behavior. Likewise, if a parent is resorting to hitting or other violent behavior in an attempt to maintain discipline, this is a strong danger sign.
NEED MORE HELP?
If you are considering getting some additional support, counselling, or information to help you cope with the stress of parenting, contact CMR Canada.
Reference: Canadian Mental Health Association Edited by: CMR Canada
Calgary, November 2001
"This project demands your attention, dedication and effort. However, do not make it your priority. Your priority, as always, must be your family."
During the banquet celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary, Tom was asked to give his friends a brief account of the benefits of a marriage of such long duration.
"Tell us Tom," asked his closest buddy, "just what is it you have learned from all those wonderful years with your wife?"
Tom thought for a moment and then responded, "Well, I've learned that marriage is the best teacher of all. It teaches you loyalty, meekness, forbearance, self-restraint, forgiveness -- and a great many other qualities you wouldn't have needed if you'd stayed single."
For more information on this and other subjects go to Interventions Archive. The EFAP assists you and your family resolve personal problems and maintain healthy and productive lives.
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CMR Canada, a national EFAP management firm founded in Alberta in 1990, delivers programs and services that enhance the health and performance capability of individuals and organizations. The firm delivers services to individuals plus their families in organizations located throughout Alberta - Municipal Governments, Hospitals, Unions, Universities, and Corporations and the General Public.
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CMR Canada - Employee and Family Assistance Programs
Head Office Suite 3500, Bow Valley Square 2 205 - 5 Avenue SW Calgary, Alberta T2P2V7 Telephone (403)263-2200 in Calgary, or 1-800-567-9953 from elsewhere Fax (403)256-8291 E-Mail: CMR Canada
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