Even Super-Mom or Dad Need Help Sometimes: 3 Steps to Getting the Help You Need

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supermom graphicYou do it all! You pack the lunches, clean the kitchen, kiss the boo-boos, support the extra-curricular activities, and fold the laundry (sometimes). You bring home the bacon and then you cook it. You teach manners, teach math, and teach them to ride a bike. You weather the emotional storms (yours and your children’s), and clean up mess, after mess, after mess. You do all of this on four hours of sleep. You do it day in and day out. You turn ordinary chores into scavenger hunts and storms into rainbows. You are bulletproof and the strongest human being on earth to your child. The kids are sure you must have x-ray vision and telepathy because nothing gets by you. You carry a whole family on your shoulders.

[Tweet “Let’s face it though, parents are super human!”]

You may feel like you have to be a superhero to get everything done. Let’s face it though, parents are super human! When people become parents they assume a super human mantle. It stretches us and shows us what we are truly capable of. When you think you couldn’t possibly fit anything else in your day, somehow it fits. You make it work. I don’t think the problem is that parents think they have to be super parents, because you already are. The problem lies in the fact that we often think that taking on superhuman status means that we shouldn’t or can’t ask for help. We worry about letting other parents know that we are struggling with our Super-parent load.

I want you to know, It’s Okay. Even Superheroes need help sometimes.

We spend all kinds of energy worrying about keeping the secret that Super-Mom or Super-Dad has come across some parental kryptonite and is struggling. The truth is that every other Super-parent out there is struggling with their own weakness. They could use your help just as much as you could use theirs. The great thing is that “Bat Dad’s” strengths and weaknesses are generally different from “Wonder Mom’s” or “The Incredible Father’s” down the street. This difference in strengths and weaknesses makes helping each other ideal. The great thing is that each of us carry an antidote for the other’s weakness if we first, allow others into our lives and share our strengths to work toward our parenting and family goals!

How do we build a Super Parent team?

The bottom line is, someone can help you and you can help someone. You need them and they need you and that is okay! Not only is it okay, it’s synergistically powerful.

[Tweet “You need them and they need you and that is okay! Not only is it okay, it’s synergistically powerful.”]

While one person may help provide emotional support, others may provide education, recreation, respite, housework, or caring for your child directly.

Enlisting the help of others is one of the most important gems parents can do for their kids. Parenting can be exhausting if we feel completely alone and isolated.

The problem I find in my counseling experience is that parents struggle with how they can effectively enlist the help of others. They worry about asking too much, overstepping boundaries, alienating friends and/or appearing weak.

Enlisting the help of others can be scary; but like a lot of things, it’s tough to initiate. However, it can become very rewarding once you’ve made steps in that direction.

How to Enlist the Help of Others:

1. Recognize your Kryptonite and accept that you need help:

The parents that are keenly aware of their stressors are parents that can proactively plan for the future and put supports in place that will help to ensure success even when the going gets tough.

The fact that you need help doesn’t mean you are weak. It means that you have an opportunity to help others become as strong as you are. Sharing the opportunity to serve your child and your family gives others an opportunity to grow, learn new things, become more compassionate, and experience the joy of helping.

Take a moment to make a list of your biggest stressors or tipping points in parenting. An example list might include: grocery shopping with the kids, night time dishes cutting into “me or our time,” emotional overload, no time to get out, or daily homework battles.

2. Find and build your team: Find resources of like-minded, relatable supporters.

Research shows that people who have strong support systems tend to be more successful and resilient. You can talk to friends, family or other people in your circle of relationships. You can even do a simple internet search to find groups or organizations in your community or online. This may include churches, clubs, support groups, counselors, doctors, or family and friends that can give special support. Every good super hero is a part of something bigger and contributes to the efforts of a supportive network of super heroes.

I know couples that have organized a group of 4 families that each take a weekend every month to watch each other’s kids. This allows the couples in the group to have a night out three times a month. In a similar way, mothers can swap groceries days and play dates every other week. Many parents find emotional support by identifying a positive friend, family member, or role model they can share their struggles with or ask for advice. You may even kindly share your stressors with your spouse or older children and enlist their help by organizing a weekly dish chart or chore chart. Don’t be afraid to ask your older children to help care for younger siblings or help their siblings with homework. These are just a few example of ways we can join forces with other super parents to support and strengthen each other.

Take a moment to list your greatest supports. If your Super-parent team is limited, think of ways you could identify and develop these supports.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask.

When a person says they are willing to help, take them at their word. Presently, we live in a society that doesn’t like to be vulnerable or appear “needy,” but the truth is all of us are needy in one way or another. It is more effective to honestly and openly ask for the help you need, rather than to hint at it and become resentful when people don’t respond. People may say “no,” but many will say “yes” – and your relationship will grow as a result of this compassionate interaction. When we ask others to help, we shouldn’t be afraid or unwilling to accept “no” for an answer. However, be grateful for help when people give it. It’s not necessary to throw a party for a person each time they help, but a simple “thank you” is in order.

Try to have a positive, optimistic expectation that people will be willing to help, but be careful not to demand or feel entitled to help. People can only help when they know you need help. When you ask, recognize other parent’s super powers and invite them to share their knowledge and strength with you. People love to be recognized for their strength and are generally ready to share it.

Take a moment to evaluate your own feelings about asking for help. If asking for help is hard for you, think about and practice positive, polite ways you might ask for help. Also, think of what you have to offer to others.

If your “Super-parent” powers seem to be waning, realize you don’t have to do it all alone. Enlisting the help of others is a wonderful endeavor that leaves the giver and receiver edified and strengthened. Share the opportunity to help and serve your wonderful child!

Question: Why do you think it’s so hard for us to let people know and to accept help?

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