“It takes a village-“
It absolutely does take a village to raise a child. If you have a child, I’m sure you appreciated any efforts to help you out when you were learning, or struggling. If you aren’t a parent, you can still empathize with parents who are currently in need of help, even if they don’t tell you that they need help.
Why Many Parents Hide That They Are Struggling
We all want to be that picture parent: a perfectly clean house, perfect children, being on top of everything. However, in reality, parenting is hella hard! It is a struggle and some days, you may very well struggle more than others. Does this sound like you or someone you know? You are definitely in good company. However, especially on social media, most people show only good things. The positive, cutesy-tutesy pictures when you have makeup on and your hair done.
There is absolutely a stigma around being a struggling parent. Mother’s especially are expected to keep it together, keep composed, and always be on top of things. Men a lot of times are expected to carry the financial burden of the family. Once you become a parent, you always need your head on a swivel. Your day never stops, your job never ends. This can easily lead to burnout and to become overwhelmed. However, because of this stigma, many parents do not come forward as needing help.
How To Help Your Struggling Mom Friends
Be in tune with their struggles. Does your friend have a brand new baby? She may be overwhelmed with exhaustion coupled with sleep deprivation. She may be struggling with baby blues. She may be struggling with postpartum depression. Does your friend have a toddler? She may be dealing with a defiant child, one that is starting to get an attitude. Does she have a teenager? She may be struggling with, well, having a teenager! By considering their situation, you can be more in tune with the ways that she might be struggling, even if she doesn’t outright say it.
If you are a mom, consider how YOU felt, and what YOU needed. Did you appreciate it when others brought you in hot meals after having a baby? Did you appreciate it when someone came and took your baby so you could shower and sleep? Consider the things that helped you the most. This can be the starting point of finding what your mom friend may need.
Ask them what they need. Many do not want to ask for help. They may feel annoying, needy, or like they are putting you out. Therefore, you can take the initiative. You may find it is better received than saying, “if you need anything, call me!”
Think of different ways to show that you care and are thinking about them. Many times, people may not remember what you say, but how you made them feel. You can raise their spirits by a thoughtful card, or just a visit.
Assist in practical ways. Especially during the first few months of parenthood, your mom friends are learning the ropes. They are trying to figure out how to do EVERYTHING, all at once. It is also the time where your self-care takes a back burner so that they can dote on their new child. This brings up the need for practical assistance, like bringing in meals, allowing them a break from the child to sleep and shower, making sure they are eating and getting enough water, and giving them a listening ear to discuss what they are feeling. Don’t forget, the first while postpartum is an emotional time!
Things To Keep In Mind While Trying To Help:
While you want to show you care, be careful not to pry. It is an emotional time, but not all moms want to talk. Be careful not to bombard them with questions, trying to force them to talk.
If they do want to talk about things, be careful not to talk over them. It is SO important to be a good listener. You may want to tell them about ALL of the things that you did to feel better or may want to be quick to offer solutions, but a lot of times, they just want to be heard and feel validated.
Sometimes they are stressed, and say things that they don’t mean. Ever heard of the term “wild talk?” While you are deeply emotional, this happens at times. They may say things like they regret having the child, or they hate their life. You may want to correct them, but this can make them feel worse, or guilty. Chances are, they are just stressed, and try to express their emotions.
On the Flip Side, Watch Out For Symptoms That Can Be Serious.
Postpartum depression is more common in Moms that are struggling with emotional distress. While they may use “wild talk,” use your discretion and always look for warning symptoms like talking about hurting herself or her child.
For more information on postpartum depression warning signs, visit this page on Mayo Clinics’ website.
RELATED: How To Survive the Baby Blues
No matter if you have one child or seventeen, parenthood is always a struggle. That is why we always need to stick together. It is so important to support your mom friends!
What did you find helpful when you first had a baby? What did you find helped your mom friends? Comment below!
Mom blogger, job coach, ESL teacher and mom to my little girl.