Being a parent sometimes feels like a lonely job: physically, emotionally and mentally. You don't have to do everything on your own. It takes a village to raise a child, they say, all you need to do is ask for help. This is how you do that.
There’s a lot of things parents need to do, nowadays. But what if you really don’t know how to fit thirty complicated birthday treats, your three year old’s potty training, soccer training and piano class, PTA meeting and seven freshly cooked meals into one week? Or if you lie awake thinking of your stuttering toddler, your depressed teenager or their highly sensitive sibling who’s being bullied at school? Can you allow people to help you? And how?
It takes a village…
The first thing you need to know, is that being a parent has never been such a lonely thing as it is today. Because where is that village from the proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child’? Even if you have the luxury of a co-parenting partner, managing a family is a heavy and lonely job: physically, emotionally and mentally.
The second thing you need to know, is that having problems is normal. ‘Every parent struggles sometimes,’ says Elselijn Valter-Rote, married, mother of three and therapist. ‘Whether it’s a difficult toddler phase or a highly sensitive child. And there’s a lot you can’t control, many things have little to do with the way you raise them.’
But how do you ask for help, if you’ve lost it?
1. Accept the answer
Sometimes, or often, help is welcome when you’re trying to manage and guide your family. But asking for help isn’t easy. Lesson 1 in the art of asking for help is: allowing the other person to say no. If deep down, you’re expecting them to say yes, and if rejection makes you angry or sad, your question wasn’t a question but a demand.
2. Don’t judge (yourself)
Another important thing: don’t judge yourself for having difficulties with your situation. Asking for help is difficult. What you need, is confidence in the fact that it’s always OK to have desires and wishes, and at the same time, acceptance of the fact that you can’t control whether you’ll get what you want.
For some of us, this is something new, we weren’t all raised with this confidence or acceptance. So if you have found the courage to ask another mother in school whether your son or daughter can come over to play and she says no, it may hurt your feelings.
3. Put things into perspective
Don’t wait too long to ask people and don’t put things out of perspective. ‘Many people don’t ask for help until they really don’t know what else to do,’ says therapist Elselijn Valter-Rote, ‘It’s never too late to ask for help, but it’s never too soon either.’
Text: Lisette Thooft - Photo: Thiago Cerqueira