Reporting Suzie Suh
SYLMAR (CBS) — There’s a lot of pressure and doubt that comes with being a parent but family therapists say it’s important for parents to remember they are the experts when it comes to raising their own children.
Alejandra Lopez is a single mother of three – Andrew, Destiny and Sebastian. At times, she said she feels overwhelmed by parenting pressures.
“It just feels like somebody pours something heavy on me,” said Lopez, adding, “It just scares me, sometimes, that I’m not going to make the right choices for them and, sometimes, I might be too strict and not let them do things.”
The Sylmar mom felt this way even during something as simple as giving out afternoon snacks.
“You want to give them apples and the oranges and they’re like, ‘No, Mom, no. I want chips’ – you give in and suddenly you’re an irresponsible parent,” Lopez said.
The same thing goes for keeping up with the latest toys – if you don’t, you’re mean, and, if you do, you’re spoiling them.
“As time went by they started stepping all over me, so I put my foot down,” this mother of three said.
Parents can read all the parenting books they want and absorb all the advice from other parents but experts say the most important thing to keep in mind may perhaps be balance.
“Everybody has different ideas of bringing up children,” Lopez said.
Dr. Fran Walfish, a family therapist in Beverly Hills, believes the balancing begins with parents recognizing no one is perfect.
“Every parent has to give themselves room for error,” Walfish said.
Experts also advise taking a short break, like a quick detour between work and home for a cup of coffee, so parents can give their children undivided attention when they get home.
“The belief systems, the values, the morals are different in every family,” she said.
She went on to say that it’s important to trust your instincts and stick to your specific beliefs.
“At the same time, they need to be comfortable knowing where the boundary is, holding, setting limits,” Walfish said.
The family therapist said parents know their child best – not other parents.
“We see things differently even if we grew up together,” Lopez said.
Experts advise parents to consider parenting as a privilege, not a burden. Perhaps, that will take some pressure off.
“You need to get comfortable with your child being angry at you sometimes, rejecting you sometimes. Just understand your child is angry at what you’re saying and doing not at who you are,” Walfish said.