Care for the Caretakers: A Discussion on Parental Self-Care

Author: Rachel Jones, LMFT

In a family, the emotional health of the parents is vital to the overall well-being of a household. It is important to assess how the parents cope with daily stressors and the health of their support systems. These variables form the catalyst for positive change in the family system, which define an emotionally balanced household.

Self-care is a popular term currently being used in the wellness community. While it has been found to be extremely helpful in aiding emotional regulation, it can be a hard sell to parents who already feel they have reached capacity. It makes sense; when you have a to-do list that feels like it is yelling at you, how can you be expected to make sure you’re getting your daily water intake and making that 5:30 yoga class? Self-care approached in this way appears unhelpful and stressful, thus defeating the purpose altogether. There are many different ways to practice regulating your emotions and managing stress. For example, deep, focused breath can activate your relaxation response and help you better regulate your emotions (Magner, 2017).

It is important to note that caring for yourself is a habit to instill – regulating emotions doesn’t happen accidentally. It is a practice that you build upon over time. Research indicates that parents who practice taking care of themselves and their emotions are better able to meet the difficult demands of parenting and increase the quality of interactions they have with their children (Shaffer & Obradović, 2017).

Magner, Dan (2017, August 29). What You Need to Know About Stress and Self-Care. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/some-assembly-required/201708/what-you-need-know-about-stress-and-self-care.

Shaffer, A., & Obradović, J. (2017). Unique contributions of emotion regulation and executive functions in predicting the quality of parent–child interaction behaviors. Journal Of Family Psychology, 31(2), 150-159.