Are you among the 10 percent of smart parents?

smart parentsNew research out of Queensland revealed that half of parents struggle with the stress of raising children, but only 10%, the smart parents, regularly ask for help.

They are the smart 10 per cent!

Parents need assistance, advice and support from others to help them successfully raise their kids. Yet, 90 per cent of them do not regularly ask for help.

I suspect that this finding is not peculiar to Queensland. My experience suggests it’s an Australia-wide phenomenon.

In a recent press release Steve Armitage of the Queensland Family and Child Commission said research showed struggling parents were reluctant to speak out for pride or fear of being judged as a bad parent.

“We want parents to know they do not always have to put on a brave face. Everyone struggles from time to time. It is okay to talk about problems and ask for help,” Mr. Armitage said.

“It can be tough to admit you need help as a parent so having someone offer practical help like taking the kids to the park or just sitting down for a chat can make all the difference,” Mr. Armitage said.

Help-seeking behaviours are healthy

Traditionally, Australians have not been great at asking for help of any kind. Independence and a willingness to battle on against even huge odds on is part of our national psyche. The term ‘battler’ is an endearing term attributed to someone who is doing it tough.

But for every battler who has fought against the odds and succeeded there are at least ten who struggled alone and never really got anywhere. And their families suffered as a result.

Twenty-first century thinking suggests that help-seeking behaviours are smart behaviours. Asking for help; sharing problems; taking advice; seeking out a coach, mentor or friend; building support networks and enlisting (and paying for) professional support when needed are the types of help-seeking behaviours that we need to encourage.

Fear of judgement

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many parents don’t seek help through fear of being judged as poor parents. The further we go up the socio-economic scale the more this is true.

This is sad as so many people are struggling in their parenting role when they needn’t be.

Of course, the reality is that ALL parents struggle from time to time coping with their children’s behaviours and attitude, or helping them manage difficult circumstances. We can all use some help from time to time, as it’s easy to get STUCK in your parenting.

Help comes in many forms

It’s essential to build your network of support. Here’s how:

  1. Start with family and friends. You need between three and five trusted, non-judgemental people who you can call on for help. Count how many you have right now. If you fall short, look for ways to build your social capital.
  2. Add a layer of organizational support such as professionals and organisations that educate, care for and coach/teach your children. Add carers, teachers, coaches and other adults to your list.
  3. Find counseling, parent education services and professional assistance services whether paid or free (such as Parentline) that you can go to when you need significant assistance. Foster a relationship with a professional (general practitioner, psychologist, specialist in a child’s disorder, social worker) that you can trust that you can return to over time.
  4. Follow a voice you can trust. Part of modern parental stress comes from the plethora of information about raising kids. Answering the basic question “Am I doing a good job?” is now super-confusing. Parenting is now an industry, with many well-intentioned ‘experts’ who don’t always give wise, informed or research-backed advice. As someone who has been helping parents full-time for over twenty years, the paucity of good advice available right now concerns me greatly! Choose expertise wisely.
  5. Don’t blaze trails. Many parents think like the Lone Ranger, they are blazing a trail through uncharted territory. Raising twins on your own? You’re not the first. Got a child with ADHD, another with autism and your 15 year old wants to get a tattoo? You’re not the first. Seek out like-minded parents or experienced professionals who have been down these paths, or have helped people navigate similar situations and get their perspectives. Trail-blazers are easily lost.

If you are like the majority of parents who find the job tough from time to time then I encourage you to be one of the smart 10 per cent and adopt help-seeking behaviours. The alternative, struggle along with the majority of parents is just not necessary.


PS: You can now test drive out trusted ideas and parenting advice at Parentingideas Club

Michael Grose

Michael Grose is the current Channel 9 Today Show parenting commentator, reaching parents Australia-wide on a regular basis.He is also the author of 8 parenting books, including his latest release Thriving! and the best-selling Why First Borns Rule the World and Last Borns Want to Change It.

A popular presenter, Michael Grose speaks to parents, teachers and principals on a regular basis.Michael comes from an education background, and has conducted post-graduate research into what makes healthy families tick.He's given over 1500 parenting presentations, including the first parenting seminar in Parliament House, Canberra.Michael is married with three adult children who have all successfully flown the parent nest.

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