Most parents would probably agree that the past year and a half has been tough. The pandemic has added tons of parental stress: we juggled work with kids schooling from home, we maintained a physical distance from our friends and loved ones, and we navigated a completely different set of societal paradigms.
Although the pandemic has brought many negatives, it’s also created a striking positive: it has become normal not to feel okay. When we normalize that life can cause us overwhelming stress, our struggle isn’t considered a character flaw or a judgment on our worth, but an understandable reaction to our circumstances. Therefore, it’s also an opportunity for support.
Our collective experience has given us the opportunity for empathy because we’re all going through something hard. While some may have it harder than others, this shared experience makes it easier to empathize.
Empathy—supportive acknowledgment of someone else’s feelings—is a doorway to moving through emotions and tough times.
Through the normalizing of stress and empathy, we’re empowered to ask different questions. Rather than asking, “What’s wrong with that parent?” or even, “What’s wrong with ME?” we can ask, “What does that parent need to face this circumstance?” or “What do I need to face this circumstance?” “Is there a resource that could prevent someone’s stress from becoming overwhelming?”
If you’re a parent, know that it’s completely normal to feel stressed—and when we feel stressed, it’s harder to parent the way we want to. Know that seeking support is not just okay, but that it is a powerful way to build connections and obtain the resources you need to be the parent you want to be.
And if you know a parent, offer support. The demands of parenting are unique, and it’s normal for parents to struggle during stressful times.
This camaraderie of going through something tough together has given us a chance to open the doors of empathy and support. Let’s keep them open and stay connected and compassionate.
Editor’s Note: look for the Strong Families, Happy Kids column in every issue of Prescott Woman Magazine. It’s designed to support parents with actionable tips and strategies they can use to create optimal environments for their children to thrive. To learn more about Prevent Child Abuse Arizona’s mission and resources visit www.pcaaz.org