You’re at your wit’s end, you have one nerve left, and the kid is on it. You are stressed to the max, and it’s really not funny because you are honestly afraid you might do something to hurt your child. Where do you go to get parenting help before the neighbors call Child Protective Services?
In the first place, CPS isn’t such a bad place to start if you’re really on the edge of despair or abuse, because they can and will help you. They’re more interested in preventing family problems than in trying to repair the damage after the fact. They can help with the two things you are most likely to need: respite, and information. They are not the only source available for parenting help, though.
There is nothing wrong with you if you need a break from your kids, not even if the break lasts a few weeks. Parenting is hard and all consuming, and it sometimes takes more than any of us can give. Ask family members or friends if they can take the kid or kids for a while. If you can’t find anybody in your immediate circle to help you out, consider the following parenting help options:
Daycare or preschool: Childcare is expensive, but if you can afford it enrolling your child in daycare or preschool is something to be considered. A couple of mornings or afternoons a week might give you enough of a break to take the pressure off.
Church activities: Church activities for young adults often provide childcare at low or no cost, so take advantage of this. It gives you a chance to be with other adults, without kids, and doesn’t cost much.
Community programs: Take advantage of child-oriented community activities. Classes, day-camps and children’s programs are available in most communities at very reasonable costs. If you have more financial resources, there are even more activities you can take your children to while you take a break.
Sometimes, what you need is information. How do you deal with a kid who is shoplifting, or what do you do for colic? How do you discipline a five-year-old, or how can you keep your teens from taking drugs? The questions are endless and the worst part about parenting is that nobody taught you how to do it, and you never know if you’ve done a good job until it’s too late. There are several places you can go for informational parenting help.
Books, magazines and the internet: If you learn well by reading, and pure information is all you need, there’s plenty of it available. You might talk to someone you trust about which books and magazines are helpful, because there is poor advice out there. Evaluate what you read, pick out what helps you and discard the rest.
Classes: Hospitals, medical clinics, churches and social agencies all offer parenting classes. Taking a class gives you good information, and gives you the chance to interact with other parents and learn from them.
Parenting groups: Usually these groups get together to talk about parenting issues and share information and support.
Counseling: A good counselor can assess your family situation and provide information and support specific to you and your children.
If you are struggling, it is essential that you get some good parenting help. The resources are available, but you might have to look for them. Ask for help, and keep asking until you get it because both you and your kids deserve it.