During the time that my first son was an only child, parenting seemed like such an easy job. I didn’t understand why other people seemed to struggle so much. I had read so many parenting books that it all just seemed to flow out of me with such ease. I could see where a situation was headed before it got there. I could literally feel myself step back out of a stressful moment and be able to calmly assess what was really going on. I thrived on reading anything that I could on positive parenting not only because I loved learning new things; but to be honest it was like a big pat on the back. It all spoke directly to what I was doing. At least until I had my second son. After he came along, those books were a reminder of everything that I was now doing wrong. I was sleep deprived and walking him up and down the floor all day long. He could not self sooth. He didn’t like the swing, wouldn’t take a pacifier. He did not sleep well at all. I began to be an impatient mom snapping at my four year old for the most ridiculous things. I remember sitting on the floor with him one day, and he said to me that he was a bad boy. This broke my heart. I knew that I was the one who made him think that. I still to this day feel such regret for that time in our lives. As my youngest began to crawl and walk, things began to get a little easier but not by much. We could not child proof enough for him. He was able to climb the counters lickety split by the time he was fifteen to eighteen months old. A gate ha, he could scale that in the blink of an eye. He would be up at five in the morning rearing to go. The best place to be in the morning was outside where there were more appropriate things to climb. I’d grab a cup of coffee and out we would go. I began to feel like I was losing my mind. I was depressed and riddled with anxiety. I finally went to my doctor to get some help. He prescribed an anti-depressant. I felt like myself again. I had more energy, I was not feeling anxious or depressed anymore. I should have gone for help sooner, but I thought I should be able to cope on my own. I wish I could say that I was able to be that positive parent all over again, but it would be a half truth. I was able to bring a lot of that back in, but as my youngest grew; that style was not always effective for him. This is where I had to battle with myself over the issue of spanking. I knew we couldn’t let him be defiant, but I was at a loss on how to stop it. We only used spanking for when he was defiant, doing things like spitting, kicking, head butting. A spanking was the only thing that seemed to work. Am I an advocate for spanking? Nope I’m not at all. But I believe we have to parent the best way that we can with the tools that we have at the time. I wish I had been able to be a perfect mom, but I was flawed. I still am flawed. This time in my life was very humbling. And in so many ways I am grateful for its change in me. I am a better person, a kinder person, a less judgmental person. May we all remember not to speak poorly of other people. We do not know their internal struggles and how thin that thread they are hanging by is.
Published by Parenting For Good Mental Health
My name is Tricia. I am the proud mom of two amazing young men.
My youngest son was always a very energetic and highly reactive child. Life with him was often like a roller coaster ride. He had to work very hard to learn how to manage his emotions and behaviors. By the time he turned 10, he had learned to manage them fairly well. But one night while watching the movie The Mummy, his anxiety was triggered. Night after night, he just could not get the scary images out of his head. This went on for almost a year where he would cry in bed at night. Nothing we tried seemed to help. So we decided to take him to see a psychiatrist where he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, depression, OCD, and bipolar disorder.
Unfortunately, the care and medications that he received from various professionals did not really help. By educating myself, I began to learn that there were many more options that had not been provided or suggested. I believe that had I had more information sooner; his care could have been better tailored to his needs. This was a very difficult time not only for my son but for our entire family. We had to develop new ways of interacting that did not cause fights over the littlest things. We had to learn the hard way what not to do in a crisis. My husband had to learn that you don’t have to have a reason to be depressed or anxious. Sometimes you just are. And that it is not helpful to say to a depressed person, that they have no reason to be depressed. Having never experienced these feelings himself, my husband really struggled with understanding these things. But now that he gets it, he wishes he would have understood sooner so he could have been more supportive to our son in the beginning.
Thankfully, our son has found his own way through the darkness. And he has developed some skills and tools for managing his mental illness. His path could have been easier and less painful for him had we known about these other options sooner.
As parents and caregivers we need to educate ourselves on their illnesses and the evidence based care options that are out there. We have a limited number of clinicians that treat children and teens, so we sometimes only get to see them once a month. What kind of impact do you think you could have on your child if you only saw him once a month? We need to bring as much to the table as possible. The clinicians can only work with the information they are given. The more you can tell them the better they will be able to tailor your child’s care to his needs. We also need to know how to be the parents our child needs because what works for other kids does not always work for ours.
I would like to help educate others so that their path to recovery might be made shorter. There is a lot of support out there, but sometimes we do not hear about it. NAMI is the first support that I will recommend.
NAMI the National Alliance on Mental Illness is the largest grassroots mental health organization in America. Through NAMI you will find support and education that can help you to better facilitate the care your child needs. https://www.nami.org/
View all posts by Parenting For Good Mental Health
I completely relate to this! I felt like a pro with my first boy, like why do people complain so much! My second child has also been very humbling for me. Having your attention split between 2 kids is one thing, and when you have to adjust your parenting style, that’s even harder. Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had.
I remember once hear that going from 1 kid to 2 is no different than going from none to one. I whole heartedly disagree. It is so different.