3 Tips from a Psychiatrist on the Challenges + Growth of Becoming a Parent
TIP : 3 Tips from a Psychiatrist on the Challenges + Growth of Becoming a Parent.
by Alysia Cirona-Singh, MD
The physical changes of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and caretaking are readily seen and felt, and rightfully receive much of the attention and focus. But this time of transition and uncertainty also offers an incredible opportunity for psychological growth.
Here are some concepts that may be helpful to you as you embark or continue on this path:
Maternal ambivalence – Popular images of motherhood frequently depict the experience as universally pleasant and welcome, with little indication of other feelings that commonly arise. This romanticization of the mother-child relationship leaves no room for emotions like resentment, unhappiness, or doubt. But having these feelings is not the same as acting on them. If you’re experiencing some of these “negative” feelings, know that is normal and acceptable.
Good enough parenting – We live in a culture that places a high value on rigid perfectionism. Spoiler: Our kids don’t need us to be perfect, they need us to be human! Being sufficiently attuned most of the time really is enough, and it’s important for them to see us stumble, make mistakes, and recover from them. Consider the support you need to be “good enough.”
Grief is part of all mothering – Whether you have experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth trauma, or you have sailed through your pregnancy with relative ease, loss is wound up tightly with parental love. Feelings of grief might crop up at that moment you leave your child at daycare for the first time, or the day you realize your kid is too big for you to carry anymore, or when you find that your child has a medical or developmental concern that you weren’t expecting. It’s okay to grieve as you simultaneously celebrate your little one’s growth.
Some folks find that becoming a parent brings to the fore feelings about one’s own upbringing or complicated fears and hopes for the future, and for others, difficulties like anxiety or depression emerge. Talking with someone to gain deeper insight into one’s feelings and experiences can be incredibly helpful.
Alysia Cirona-Singh, MD is a mother and psychiatrist whose San Francisco-based practice focuses on helping parents connect with their truest selves and approach mothering with authenticity, utilizing psychoanalytic psychotherapy and, when indicated and desired by the patient, the judicious use of medication to treat a broad range of psychological concerns. She sees people in California virtually and in person in Noe Valley. To learn more or to schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation, call 415-658-5322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.