Are the best ideas borrowed? Sometimes. Err, it depends. One-size doesn’t always fit all when it comes to therapy sessions and mental health. That being said, I’d be willing to guess there are universal parenthood struggles that we’ve all felt from time to time, which is why I took note while reading comments in a local mom’s group when someone posed the question ‘What’s the best parenting or marriage advice your therapist has ever given you?’
What a brilliant concept!
The idea was that the collective responses and advice could benefit all the mamas in the group since so many shared the same obstacles. So I posed the same question to our Knoxville Moms Contributors and a few local gal-pals alike. The responses were brilliant, uplifting and reassuring. It was equally comforting to hear how many fellow moms sought out therapy, as it was to read so many helpful solutions to our mutual concerns.
Whether you believe in therapy or not, currently go or have considered it, the platitudes shared here from our local moms are universal. They are the mantras many of these women live by and they summarize what has helped them get through the long hours, late nights, regretful fights, and the guilt associated with parenthood.
Here’s what our brave contributors (anonymously) shared:
Let’s finish today and try again tomorrow. “This is my favorite piece of advice (I have hanging in my classroom) and I wrote it on my hand Tuesday! It can be so meaningful in so many different ways. I found it at a time when I was at my lowest. On those days when I wanted to give up, I’d just go to bed and ‘try again tomorrow’ (which was almost always better). Just another good way to say ‘keep going.’”
No one can read your mind, so if you need something (help, a task to be done, etc.), you have to physically speak it or else you’ll never get it. “I learned this in marriage counseling. How important is this advice, and yet why do so many of us struggle with putting it into action? Let’s change that, shall we? ‘Dropping hints’ has never and will never work in favor of communication. You have to be clear in your expectations or you can’t fault someone for not meeting them.”
A prayer: Open my eyes to the things you want me to see, and close my eyes to the things you don’t. “My therapist was through a church a few years ago, but when I’d try to figure out why things were happening to me in my marriage/trying to get all the answers, she’d tell me to say this prayer. Even for those who don’t pray, it’s still timely. What we are supposed to know, we will eventually, and what we don’t protects us.”
Always look at their (your children’s) hands when they are throwing a tantrum. It reminds you how little they are and they can’t always help or control it. “Try not to cry the next time your sweet toddler is throwing a tantrum and this pops into your head. What a sweet reminder of grace.”
I’m allowed to be angry. “Life sucks sometimes. And so much is out of our control! But stifling all of that anger and holding it in is bad.” To this point, another mom added that her therapist has been talking her through the same thing, but as related to being sad. She added that she’s in a grieving period, but to own that sadness as opposed to suppressing it. Her therapist suggested just sit with those feelings of sadness for a while, because if she were to just charge on ahead, and try to will herself to move on with her life, the grief would eventually catch up with her. “There’s no quick way to skip the valleys.”
Never marry someone that you wouldn’t want to get divorced from someday. This mom admitted that this one has always ‘stuck with her.’ People don’t plan on getting divorced, but you need to evaluate how someone treats conflict, and the person they are in conflict with, when evaluating whether or not you should marry. “You never know how life is going to turn out. How people treat their enemies says a lot about who they are as a person.”
Don’t lose yourself. “What children need is loving, happy parents who model successful, healthy adulthood. Show them that. Continue to live your life and be more than just a mom — be the complete person you always were before they were born.”
Words are powerful and can emit love or toxicity—choose carefully. Who hasn’t regretted what they’ve said in the heat of the moment, or aghast — in front of your children. “We can all do better at practicing mindfulness when choosing our words. What is said in a moment, can become a breeding ground for resentment later on.”
Modeling or demonstrating your behavior/actions will shape your children for their future mate, and how they think they should be treated and valued. “Would you allow your child’s future spouse to treat you the way your spouse treats you or vice versa? If the answer is no, remember: your children are watching. Treat yourself and your family in a way that shapes your children for successful relationships in their futures.”
Don’t take yourself too seriously. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes in parenting. To come in second or even third. Put on a movie when you need a minute to cook dinner — a little screen time won’t kill anyone. Don’t be afraid to do ice cream for dinner one night in the summer. The memories will outweigh the sugar rush. Wear your sweats and hair in a bun to the school drop off line. Who knows, you might just inspire other mamas to let go a little too. This mama business is tough, let’s not make it harder on ourselves by setting expectations of perfections.”
Be grateful and thankful in all things. This one is a perfect place to end. “When you think about it, it really solves all problems. Dinner on the table late? Be thankful you have food to feed your family. Didn’t get into the preschool you wanted? Be thankful your children have access to education and childcare. Lost the bid on the perfect house for your family? Home is where your family is, so let that be enough for now.”