By Crystal Brisbin, NCMH
N3- Newaygo County Mental Health has been providing services to the community for the past half century. As part of their celebration we are running a series of articles highlighting the good work that has been done as well as the good work currently being done. In the 7th of a series we hear from Crystal Brisbin, Parent Support Partner.
As a parent I have experienced the fact that parental responsibilities can be overwhelming. Over the last few years some families may have faced more obstacles to overcome. Unforeseen situations that we may be unprepared for can increase stress and anxiety. Although we may intend on protecting our children from the negative effects that follow, our children may notice potential changes in our mood and/or communication. At times, our changes in demeanor and our reactions to our children’s behaviors may be more evident that we realize.
Through resilience parents may be able to protect their family against the impact of difficult situations in life. Parents or caregivers set an example of strength and how to cope with difficult situations by looking ahead instead of being so overwhelmed they feel they do not have the ability to get past today. For many of us, this is difficult and building resilience is not easy. At times, we may feel the need to reach out to supports. Not all families have familial supports available to them which can cause the feeling of defeat and isolation. Supports can be found outside of family though. Support groups, counseling services, neighbors, and community resources may be able to offer assistance or recommend services to help fill the void and lack of needed help. Reaching out may be a difficult task for some parents, but it is vital in building resilience and hopes for growth. Children may also need additional support. Encouraging them to speak with school staff and getting involved within the community in hopes of building healthy, lasting relationships. Developed relationships may provide a future of support that follows them into adulthood.
Encourage children to share how they feel. By identifying difficulties, parents can teach children how to grow from their emotions by providing examples of what you have learned throughout the years. Doing so allows them to become stronger when they are faced with barriers or challenges in the future as they have knowledge that they may not have had before. If your children are reluctant to share their feelings, you may want to look for sudden changes in behavior. Through experiences with my children, I have learned that there are times when a child is frustrated or stressed about something that we are unaware of. Through empathy, compassion, and encouraging open communication it is more likely that your child will feel safe to speak.
Reliance is a skill built on life experiences. It takes time to change habits and focus on the future. Sometimes we cannot imagine the future during difficult times. We may feel too overwhelmed to focus on making changes. You know your family best and if you choose to make changes you will know when the time is right. Change is not easy and you may want to gradually make strides towards building resiliency. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone and there is someone out there to help you through.
Finding supports may not be easy, but as you establish connections it becomes less difficult. If you are not aware of what is available in your community, 2-1-1 hotline can recommend resources based on your needs. The Center for the Study of Social Policy has provided a base for this article and they offer additional information on building resilience. You may find them online at www.cssp.org.
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