EXPERT Q&A

How can I relax my parenting style?

Every parent has their own parenting style—some more rigid than others. If you are a parent who wants guidance on how to relax your parenting style, read more from expert Shenley Seabrook.

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Question

I’m a mom of two and a worrier. I want my children to grow up into strong, independent, empathetic adults, but I wonder if I’m too protective and as my kids get older, I should offer them a bit more independence. It hasn’t helped that some folks in my social circle have made some comments about this. But I do think it might be time to relax my parenting style a bit. Do you have any tips for how I can do this?

Answer

Such a good question, and thank you for sharing. It’s important to be cognizant of these issues and how you might want your parenting style to evolve, and I’m happy to help.

First, I want to draw attention to judgment you may feel from those in your social circle. Every parent is different, and even if you have a different parenting style than others, that doesn’t make it wrong. Unfortunately, parents too often feel judged by other parents, and since this is something you may be experiencing, I hope you can find ways to ignore it. I also suggest expanding your social circle to include more compassionate and empathetic individuals who understand how challenging parenting is and are willing to support you on the most difficult issues you may be facing.   

Secondly, being overly protective or overly interested in your children’s lives may be attributed to some form of anxiety. This anxiety may lead you to believe that anything your child does is potentially dangerous or harmful. While this may not be the case, if you think it might be, try speaking to a doctor you trust about your feelings and strategies for coping with them.

Lastly, here are other tips that might help you to relax as a parent. Please take what works and leave the rest!

Positive Self-Talk. Continue to remind yourself that your child is smart, capable, and learning to develop their own sense of independence. They are learning to make smart and wise decisions. And you, as a parent, fostered these skills in your child. Tell yourself you are a good parent, you are strong, and that your child’s independence is important.

Coping Skills. If you don’t already do this, use deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques that can help you when dealing with anxious feelings. When your child is playing, remind yourself to take a deep breath each time you feel nervous or stressed. One of my favorite exercises is the 5-4-3-2-1 Mindfulness Technique. It’s great for kids, but is equally beneficial for adults.

Start Small. The next time you are out in public with your child and notice yourself feeling anxious or not relaxed, take an inventory of what you are doing at the moment. If you find yourself telling your child to “Be careful” or “Watch out,” make a conscious effort to reduce the frequency you are using these phrases. Or if you don’t want your child more than 1 foot ahead of you on a walk, try to increase that to 2 or 3 feet, and so on. As you create more space for your child, you are likely to feel more and more comfortable.

Any parent knows that parenting is challenging. But it sounds like you are doing a great job and are aware of what skills you want to strengthen as a parent. Best of luck to you, and remember, the CareNectar team is here for you.

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Meet The Expert


Shenley Seabrook

Shenley Seabrook is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor who works primarily with children and adolescents in a private practice setting. She is also a foster parent and lives with her husband and daughter in Indiana. Shenley recently wrote her first children’s book, We Have the Same Heart, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and community service.