Join child and family therapist, and mom-in-the-trenches, Karen Peters for this dive into the sticky, chaotic, mess-filled experience of what it means to parent.
"Parenting is so rewarding" they said. ...and it can be, but it is also a wild ride with all kinds of bumps, left turns, and loop-d'loops that can't be anticipated. There is joy in parenting, but there is also a lot of mess and feeling right in the thick of it. The Parenting in the Trenches podcast is designed to get real about the ups, downs and sideways of parenting. Our goal is to offer connection, hope and some helpful tools along the way.
A podcast created for parents - to normalize the crazy things kids do, support the sense of isolation many parents feel, and offer tangible tools grounded in the most recent research to help families conquer life in the trenches.
I'm talking with Bryn Askwith, a Project Manager with BC Children's Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre and co-host/co-producer of Kelty's Podcast, ‘Where You Are’. She's also a mom of two energetic kids. Today we're talking about child, youth and family mental health resources.Listen Now!
Let's roll up our sleeves and dive into the deep end of the mud puddle.
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Oh, parenting. I thought I knew what to expect. I grew up surrounded by kids and I watched and participated in caring for kids my whole life. I went on to study child development and mental health through an undergraduate and master’s degree, and specialized my career in working with kids and families.
Before having kids, I would have said that I understood parenting would be a challenge, but I am also a naturally determined individual, and believed that I would be able to thrive in the challenge and overcome any mountain thrown in my path.
You know how they say there’s a difference between “book smarts” and “street smarts”? Looking back now, what I thought was street smarts was just a whole lot of book smarts.
Turns out, it is truly impossible to really know what it's like to parent and how tough it can be until you're in the role yourself. Because, in spite of all of the experience gleaned prior to parenting, here's what you can't know: all those times in your life when you learned you could overcome hard things you were rested, had independence, had breaks and time to recharge and had other things going on to balance out all the stress.
In parenting those things change, along with so much more. The dynamics in your couples relationship (if you're in one) become challenging, the personality of your child may not be what you imagined or expected, the external supports may not be there the way you had anticipated, there is no sleep, little time to recharge, if you get sick you can't "take time to get well", and the parenting books and resources out there can feel like they shame you, fail you or just don’t fit your family.
The compounded experience leaves you anxious, on edge, depleted, exhausted and done - except you can't afford to be those things. *Sigh.* Someone needs you. All. the. time. Right!?!
Parenting neuro-typical children is hard enough, but when we consider added complexities like a child or children with special needs, this can further compound the struggle. Oftentimes the resources you seek out have waitlists or miss the mark on what you truly need. The amount of effort, vulnerability and emotional risk it takes to keep reaching out is significant and sometimes just too overwhelming.
You do all the things, go to all the appointments, and read all the books and it can still feel like you're drowning. In the hardest moments, we can lose ourselves in the feelings and start to feel like we're failing as parents. What I've come to understand is that it's not for a lack of will or effort on your part - rather it's the system that has failed you. When we reach the point where we're convinced we're the problem, we tend to retreat or put on that well rehearsed "things are great" face. This is our best effort to protect ourselves from hearing other parents say oversimplified remarks like "oh, you just need to...." or, "what I would do if my kids were like that is..." because they can't handle hearing the reality and complexity of the situation.
If this is you, I see you. I hear you. I feel you. Heck, I’ve been you. I know that until you're truly inside that story, living it out, you cannot imagine the experience or it's impact. I don't want anyone inside that story to feel they are going it alone. I want you to know, it's not you. You aren't crazy.
You are brave and persistent, trying to be all the things in what feels like a never-ending loop of impossible demands. Real life, well grounded and practical tools are needed. Ones that bring relief. Ones that help you sustain things through the toughest of phases. And you need compassion and understanding, not judgement.
These are the things I have in mind as I develop all of the resources I create for families. I know it needs to work, in the messiness of real life.
Here in the trenches with you,