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Research* in the States shows that there is a type of parent that is more than twice as likely to get depressed and burned out. They are what the study calls, ‘intensive parents’. Intensive parents can take their job of being a parent so seriously they may end up doing it badly. They are typically mums and they believe they should always sacrifice their needs for their children. If that sounds like you, let me scare you – a quarter of mums who fit that description had symptoms of depression.
They believed that sacrificing themselves for their kids was going to benefit their children – wrong! Children do best when parents are happy and emotionally healthy. Intensive parents see that their children are their major source of satisfaction and happiness. If you find your parenting is ‘all joy but no fun’, you need to start looking after yourself better.
For the sake of your kids, take breaks, listen to your own music, have a hobby, keep up with friends. Intensive parents will be saying, “I can’t do that because I am too busy.” The research showed they give their kids very little ‘down time’, and they seldom left their children to just entertain themselves. Honestly, they will be fine. Back away from your child, sit down and have a cuppa.
Finally, the survey showed that the unhappiest mums were ones who believed they were more capable and indispensable than their partners. Honestly, you’re probably right, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share the parenting. You child will be better off, your partner will be fine and you will be a lot happier if you spread the load. The happiest kids have parents who care for them and care for themselves.
*Reference – Rizzo KM, Schiffrin HH, Liss M (2012). Insight into the parenthood paradox – mental health outcomes of intensive mothering. Journal of Child and Family Studies; DOI 10.1007/s10826-012-9615-z