Without a doubt, choosing to go to a therapist can be a difficult decision for some. It mostly has to do with the stigma that surrounds it. Additionally, a lot of people don't feel, at least on the conscious level, like they have anything they should be talking about. But the truth is, talking to an unbiased professional, whether it's a psychologist, physiatrist, or clinical counselor, is one of the most effective ways of getting in touch with ourselves emotionally, biologically, and intellectually. It gives us tools to help move forward in almost any situation in life. And while things like meditation and yoga can also have the same effects, they can come across as a little airy-fairy for some. Therapy is practical and beneficial.
According to medical professionals, mothers who choose to go to therapy often discuss similar issues. These traits often have to do with how much a child can impact an individual, a relationship, or even the outlook one has on society as a whole.
The following list details some of these topics that mothers tend to speak about with their shrinks. Maybe it will inspire some to go chat with someone, continue therapy, or just cause them to reevaluate their own personal struggles. But, much like how good therapy works, it's all up to the individual.
20 Doing It All Wrong
Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and thought "Am I doing this all wrong?" Well, don't worry, you're not alone. According to Gwendolyn Nelson-Terry, a marriage and family therapist in California, this is an issue that most mothers talk about with their therapists. It's ultimately because parenting is hard. Therefore it's difficult to discern if one is doing any of it right. This is especially true when things appear to go wrong, as it so often can. Kids act up, things appear horrific, but they're often not as bad we may think.
Therapists work with mothers to build natural confidence in their ability to parent. They help them understand that what they're feeling is okay and usually stems from a need to please our parental figures from youth, since they are often our first kind of human interaction. And for mammals, the most important one.
19 Financial Difficulties
For both parents, it's completely natural to be worried about possible financial difficulties that could happen or are happening. The truth is, most people in North America do have to consider expenses when raising kids. After all, they can be expensive. Not only that, but when one has kids, they often take the majority of the expendable cash. Gone are the days for personal pampering and spending money on a night out with friends. It's just too expensive when you are having to constantly buy diapers, toys, or save for private school and university educations. It's tough out there for parents.
A therapist may not be able to get into the specifics of your financial worries the way a financial planner or an accountant might, but they will certainly help you figure out a calm, rational way of thinking.
18 Missing The Old Life
According to Tara Griffith, a therapist and founder of Wellspace SF, it's completely natural for mothers, especially new ones, to have a little resentment for the life they currently have. As hard as things can be, having a child generally makes things more challenging. Not all challenges are bad, however. Some people like them. Additionally, it's kind of hard to argue that the feeling of unconditional love you get when you're a parent is entirely a bad thing. In fact, it's almost entirely a good thing.
Even still, the challenges of parenting can make one miss the good ole' days. As stated above, it can also breed resentment. This feeling can be uncomfortable, to say the least. After all, it's frowned upon to resent one's child. But the important thing to remember is most people probably don't resent their kids. They just resent the fact their lives aren't what they use to be. A sense of freedom, independence, self, as well as relationships, friendships, and binge-drinking at the bar have all been put on the back-burner or deleted completely.
Therapists normalize these feelings in a way that lets the individual work through the problem logically and hopefully find a way through it.
17 Parenthood Is Ruining Their Relationship
It's quite common for couples to start losing quality time with each other when a child comes into the picture. If the couple has more than one kid, that time is minimized even more. This can often cause couples to feel like they're drifting apart. And in some ways, they are.
A child is incredibly demanding on one's time and therefore parent's emotional, physical, and spiritual intimacies are challenged. Because of this, it's totally understandable why moms talk to their therapist about how to deal with this issue. Many therapists will suggest practical approaches to the issue. They could be things like schedules date nights, or physical, emotional, and spiritual care. There are also ways of shifting one's perspective on the issue as a whole. After all, both individuals in the couple have decided to embark on a very complex and difficult journey together.
16 Feeling Alone
When you're almost entirely cut off to the real world and trapped in baby or toddler-land, it can get pretty lonely. Even when you have a family and a partner to help you along the journey, it can still feel pretty isolating. Feeling lonely is usually part of a larger, deeper trauma that psychiatrists, in particular, are good at unlocking. This usually happens through a discussion of one's personal past and their relationship with their parents, specifically their own mother.
Not only is it important to understand and deal with these reasons from a personal perspective, but also from an interpersonal one. After all, you yourself are a mom and may unknowingly impact your child in a way that could lead them to feel the same way once they are older. It's amazing how common this is.
Another thing a therapist tends to suggest to mothers speaking to them about this problem is to seek out a community of like-minded individuals. This will not only help in terms of feeling lonely but also to understand that others are feeling the same way.
15 Constant Worry And Anxiety
Is your child happy? Are they safe? Are they about to be unsafe? Are you raising them the "right" way? And so on and so forth. To be a parent is to be in a constant state of anxiety and therefore, they are more likely than most to address this issue with their therapists. The truth is, when one becomes a mother, they are biologically forced to be more worried and anxious.
As Mabel Yu, a marriage and family therapist in California, says, "When a woman becomes a mother, her brain changes. Amygdala fires up, the grey matter becomes denser and oxytocin increases activities in the regions that control empathy, anxiety and social interaction." She then goes on to say that the oxytocin increases the maternal bond and that's a beautiful thing. The downside to it is that mothers can feel overwhelmed with love and protectiveness. They're basically a lioness trying to love and protect their cubs whether there's an active threat against them or not. That mentality can be challenging to one's happiness.
14 The Loss Of Patience
While some people have always had an issue with patience, it can get astronomically worse once they're parents. Being a parent is the ultimate test in patience, especially when a child is young and doesn't yet have the cognitive abilities to adjust bad behavior. When you're at the end of your rope, you can't handle the fact that a kid won't just eat their peas and carrots. You can't handle the fact that they won't fall asleep exactly when you want them to. You just can't handle it...
This becomes a common theme in therapy due to the fact that parents still want to feel like they're an evolved human being. Feeling that loss of patience doesn't make anybody feel like they're above the mundane irritations of life.
13 Losing Themselves
How do you maintain a sense of independence while you're an active parent? How do you maintain a sense of self? How do you create a sense of self if you've lost it? These are very common questions patients speak about with their therapists. This is because being a parent is often a far larger priority than any sort of self-care. It can completely over-ride everything else and that can be a very challenging problem.
Before we take off on a plane, the safety instructions remind us to secure our own masks before helping another secure theirs. I think this is a great lesson in life. We can't truly help others if we can't help ourselves. But in some cases, these things have to happen in tandem. That may seem impossible when all you can think about is whether or not your child is getting enough protein in their diet or if they're struggling with a crippling illness. But it's absolutely vital that you take the time to put yourself on whatever course you feel will lead you to personal contentment.
12 Why Isn't It More Fun?
Parenting isn't always fun. When one starts to be a parent, they quickly are hit in the face with this reality. The truth is, of course, that advertising especially likes to use happy parents and happy kids in their commercials, as they feel it entices people to purchase their products. This can create a massive false perspective on parenting. There's also the issue of reality TV stars who seek to have children because it puts them in the spotlight and makes them appear to be more authentic and real. But this is all a lie.
The reality is, babies scream, cry, and are messy. Parents fight over which preschool to send them to. They stop being connected to one another. Kids misbehave and lash out. The house changes. Everybody's fitness level changes. It can be absolute chaos! But that's part of the process. And that's precisely the thing that therapists like to remind their patients: Not everything is supposed to be fun, even if we once thought it would be.
11 Postnatal And Postpartum Depression
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, 30% of women admit to experiencing depression after their postnatal period. Additionally, this maternal depression is also linked to paternal depression since men are more likely to feel depressed during this period of time if their partner is first. This is also true of postpartum depression. In other words, it can be an endless stream of depression.
There is endless literature on this topic. A simple Google search will probably do you well. But the point is, postnatal and postpartum depression is very real and more common than we'd think. It's also quite natural. Talking about it with a licensed, unbiased, and studied psychiatrist is probably the best bet since they have a more varied medical background. Regardless, if this is something you feel you're dealing with, reading up on materials from reliable sources on the biological reasons will be very helpful.
10 Other Parents Are 'Better'
Comparison with other parents is very prevalent in today's society due to things like social media. According to Time Magazine, many Millennial parents feel that social-media posts cause them to feel utterly inadequate because they are seeing what other parents are doing. And some of the time, those other parents appear to be going above and beyond protocol to make themselves look like outstanding moms and dads.
But it's also true that parents have been comparing themselves to other parents since the dawn of humankind. By any stretch of the imagination, it's not a new issue. People also compare themselves to their own parents. This can be incredibly difficult if you had parents who just seemed to be the absolute best.
One of the reasons why so many mothers talk about this issue with their therapist, whether they are conscious of it or not, is because they seek to deal with the real reasons why they compare themselves to anyone in the first place.
9 Lack Of Sleep
Most people think of parents having a lack of sleep in the earliest years of childhood, but it's true until they are no longer children and leave the house. In fact, it's true of people who don't have kids. According to Sleep Statistics, over 37% of people fall asleep during the day because they are over-tired and not getting enough hours during natural sleep-times. This is an alarming amount. Not to mention the fact that the report doesn't include the number of people who struggle through the desire to fall asleep during the day due to lack of sleep.
But mothers do often talk about the fact that they have lost a great deal of much-needed sleep-time while they're sitting with their therapist. Sleeping issues are one of the most difficult things to tackle. There are so many reasons why someone either doesn't have time to sleep or can't seem to fall asleep even if they're exhausted. Therapists, as well as sleep-specialists, are the most qualified to deal with this issue.
8 Afraid Of Motherhood
Being a mother can be completely frightening for a number of reasons. First of all, being a parent means you have more responsibilities than you've ever had before. Not only do you have to take care of your own mental health, safety, finances, social, and work life, as well as a possible relationship with a partner, but you also have to worry about the life of an entirely different human-being that came out of you. That's some pretty overwhelming and kind of scary stuff... It's not abnormal to feel that way, and it's very common to discuss it in therapy.
There's also the fear of repeating the mistakes of the past, whether their your own or those made by your own parents. But just because one's childhood experiences may have caused trauma doesn't mean that doom and gloom are forever in one's future... There are many practical approaches to dealing with this issue and one of the ways of finding them is by sitting down with a professional.
7 Maintaining Other Adult Relationships
If you're a parent, you know full well that it can be awfully challenging to maintain relationships with other adults. This is true even when the other adult doesn't have children of their own to occupy their time. People have careers to contend with, as well as a veritable array of other personal struggles and successes to balance. But it's very true that adding children into the mix makes things far more challenging.
It's very normal for mothers to talk to their therapists about their desire to be around their friends or to make new ones. It's a common problem after all. Though a therapist can't act for you, they can help you find ways of fitting this into your life or, if that's not possible, giving you an activity that may just help you find a new way of feeling what you feel when you're around other adults.
6 Can't Measure Up
Both moms and dads have a tendency to feel like they can't measure up to their partner's ability to parent. While it's true that more men have this feeling, mothers can have it as well; it's something they tend to talk about in therapy. Though, according to therapists like Justin Lioi, it's more common for men to feel this way. Mothers who feel it often have an even higher deck of cards stacked against them. This is because they are told by society, as well as by their biology, that they should be a great parent. And when they see their partner "out-parenting" them, it can cause incredible feelings of jealousy, guilt, and even self-loathing.
5 Completely Overwhelmed
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Sarah Weisberg, a licensed psychologist, talks about how many women can feel completely overwhelmed after they start becoming a mother. It's not just the obvious things that cause a mom to feel consumed. Those "obvious things" would be the basic chaos of children. But something she mentions that not all of us would even consider is how emotionally consuming it is to have family around who constantly want to help. Think about the mother in Everybody Loves Raymond. She had her in-laws living across the street and they had every opinion under the sun about how she should be raising her kids. But, of course, these in-laws just wanted to help.
Therapists like Sarah will often give mothers facing a similar issue a skillset that will cause them to feel empowered during instances like these. They may not be able to help mothers fully control the situation, but they can teach them to control themselves.
4 The Desire For A Career
While some people are far more content by only being a mother, others require fulfilling career goals as well. Though these things can work in tandem, they can also be conflicting, especially in the earliest years of motherhood. If an individual is a type who has always been competitive, whether it's with themselves or with others, it can prove difficult to step away from a career to be a parent. For those career-driven types, parenting can feel a little bit like a roadblock. That doesn't mean that it's a bad road-block... More like a very beautiful diverted route that has an array of ups and downs.
Therapists often speak with mothers who want to get back to their careers or start new ones. They have an assortment of techniques that get the individual to understand why they feel this way as well as how to shift their way of thinking. After all, they do also have an obligation to the child they brought into the world. Then again, they do need to feel fulfilled and make enough money to support that child. Finding balance here is extraordinarily difficult, to say the least.
3 Body Changes And Health
Kids change a mother's body. It's not just pregnancy. It goes far beyond that. When one has kids, they believe that their first responsibility is to them. And while there's a certain degree of truth to that, they also need to understand that self-care is just as important.
Though we've already spoken about certain types of self-care issues that mothers speak about with their therapists, one we've hardly touched on is fitness and bodily changes. This connects deeply with self-confidence and self-love. But it also has to do with health. Women can feel far less healthy after having kids because they aren't as easily flexible as they once were when it comes to fitness routines.
Additionally, when you're a parent, it's also harder to eat the right way. During days of total chaos, moms eat what they can when they can or else risk not having the time to eat at all. This can be detrimental to both one's physical health and mental health.
2 What Their Child Will Be Like
There probably isn't anything more common than a parent who wants to raise a child to be the best version of them that they can be. But that's often a matter of perspective. What a mother may feel is best for her child may be in conflict with what a father believes it best, or what the kid himself feels. This can be a challenging thing to deal with and that's why it's spoken about with therapists so often.
There's a sense of responsibility that a parent has to their kid when it comes to giving them all the tools to make the best possible decisions in life. And even if they are overwhelmingly successful, a child may decide to go a completely different direction. This can be hard on a mother who worked to lead that child to a point where they thought life would pan out in a certain way.
What a good therapist will do is try to get the individual to enlighten themselves to the fact that they can only do what they can do for a child, the rest is up to them.
1 Anything But Parenting
Sometimes when a person is completely consumed by parenting and parenting alone, they need an escape. Such escapes can be athletics or something in the arts. It could be social. It could be spiritual. But it can also be therapy.
Some moms who go to therapy because it's an opportunity to deal with issues outside their role as a parent. It could be because they want to better themselves as a parent, but going because they believe there are more reasons as to why they're going. They want to talk about their childhood, their hopes, and dreams, or their fears. They want to go in and discuss something other than what diaper to buy, or when little Kara will learn to walk. They want to go in and spend time on themselves. And that's healthy. In fact, most therapists would say that it's a necessity.
Sure, it's obvious that one can spend time on themselves through spiritual practices, as well as socially and through hobbies, but therapy is just another proven way. Additionally, a therapist's job is to listen... They have to... And that's kind of great!
References: Huffington Post, The Bump, Time Magazine, Psychology Today, US National Library of Medicine, Good Therapy, American Sleep Association, Romper, Scary Mommy, Talk Space, Motherly