Celebrate Mother’s Day –Challenges and Rewards
By Marta A. Gea Franca, LMFT
There are many expectations in society about the role of women regarding motherhood. Being a mother and raising children are among the most challenging and rewarding experience for a woman. If you are raising children with mental health challenges, you’ll probably experience motherhood to be even more challenging.
The challenges may have started during the first childhood years, or during adolescence. Sometimes children will start presenting mental health challenges when they start school. Being faced with children’s unexpected behaviors at school and/or at home can bring up mother’s feelings regarding not being a “good enough mother”.
The experience of receiving phone calls from school informing that your child is presenting behavior issues at school and/or dealing with children’s anxiety, depression, ADHD symptoms at home is frequently overwhelming.
There is a lot of guilty experienced by mothers when their children begin to present mental health challenges. Many mothers ask themselves what they did wrong that contributed to their children’s struggles. Guilty, shame and feeling helpless are common feelings experienced by mothers raising children with mental health challenges.
Despite of all the difficulties of raising children with mental health challenges, it’s important to remember that there are rewards and positive outcomes during the process. Your child is not his/her mental health challenges and neither are their disruptive behaviors and unpleasant feelings. Being able to understand the reason your child is behaving and feeling helps to increase empathy and compassion towards them.
As a mother, you have the opportunity to appreciate the unique qualities and strengths your child possesses. It helps to start celebrating your child’ small victories and efforts and not take everything so serious. Seeing your child overcome his/hers struggles, grow and succeed later in life are the best reward a mother can expect.
In this mother’s day, take time to focus on the rewards of being a mother and celebrate it. Take care of yourself. Take time to do something for yourself because you deserve it. You are certainly more than a “good enough mother”.
“I’ve learned a lot since I was a new mother. My approach to struggle and shame now is to talk to yourself like you’d talk to someone you love and reach out to tell your story.”