Let’s be honest, parenting is HARD. It’s draining, exhausting, and constantly putting everyone ahead of your own needs never seems to leave you time for your own wellbeing. Because, fess up, when was the last time you did something to care for yourself?
We chat to Kimberley Harper, Parentline Manager to find out how we can normalise asking for and accepting help. Because, fellow parents, the era of perfect and stoic parenting is totally over. (Amen to that!)
What can we do to normalise help seeking?
The shift in normalising help seeking has already begun. The avoidance space was certainly higher a decade ago. The world was different, people were less busy, but also less likely to put their hand up when they needed help. Today, everyone is more open to discussing emotional needs. However, there’s still work to be done to remove that stigma that you are failing if you need support. Parents need to know that needing support is not an indictment on their parenting. Everyone needs help! And this needs to be the norm, not the exception.
What part does technology play in this?
Thanks to technology, the world is so much smaller, and this brings positives and negatives. Communication and support is at your fingertips, but so is comparison to others, overwhelming information, 24/7 social media and online discussions – all which can be detrimental to a parent’s self-confidence. So, we’ve seen demand for our services go up – both because parents are more open to asking for help and our services are more accessible, but also because parents are also finding life harder today. Also, due to the rise of cyberbullying, something which many parents will never have experienced, we have set up a whole separate cyberbullying program to support and guide parents in regards technology and kids.
What can Parentline do to help?
Parentline can help in so many ways! We offer a free (yes free!) counselling service, available 365 days a year, 8am to 10pm. All you need to do is pick up the phone, or jump onto our web chat.
In this day and age, where wait times to see health specialists are long (and often very costly), we are a service that is always available and always free, and every parent needs to know that.
Most importantly, there’s no limitations on how you use the service. There’s a huge percentage that are a one-off calls. But we provide ongoing support too. We can book in calls for families, we can listen, no matter how big or small you feel the problem is.
For me, parenting comes down to capacity. On certain days it’s lower than others. When a parents capacity is low, and they are struggling, to have someone non-judgemental as a holding space is invaluable.
Why do you feel parents are really struggling today?
Everything that happens in your life affects your capacity to parent. And we have so much more going on nowadays – work, finance, running a household, friendships, lack of extended family support. All these things impact daily life. I like to see it as: it’s not what pops the balloon, but rather what has been blowing it up.
Kids regulate off of us, if we are not doing well, they feel it and will also become overwhelmed.
What advice do you have for parents struggling to communicate with teenagers?
Most teen conflict stems from miscommunication, and a huge component from the parenting side is around the anxiety of disconnect and not knowing what to say.
A normal part of teen development is to turn away. If we are promoting that independence, we have done a good job!
What we need to focus on is how to stay connected when they start turning away. And on how it makes parents feel, how we react off that.
So, keep the communication channels open and keep it really simple. You don’t have to have all the answers, and it’s ok to tell them that. Our goal is to raise kind, resilient adults. Them finding their own feet is a good sign that we are doing it well. But what we want to make sure is that they feel comfortable to come back to us when they need us.
We are very proud to be your media partner! Why do we all need to join forces today to help and make a difference?
I’m a massive advocate for early intervention, and normalising the service for everyday families. Partnering with a wonderful magazine like Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City – that reaches a large proportion of parents in southeast Queensland – is invaluable in letting families know we are here to help.
The sooner we get in there and assist, make this service as normal calling the GP, the better it is for families. If we look after parents and their emotional wellbeing, the kick on effect is huge.
If you could say one thing to new parents today, what would that be?
Parents need to understand how important they are. The concept of self care needs to be top of mind, and that free support is available to them to achieve that.
We don’t have a magic wand, but we are here for parents, to help support you to be what you need to be for your child. If we look after you, we look after the family. Call us for a chat on 1300 30 1300 or jump online at Parentline.com.au