It’s wonderful, rewarding work to bring a life into the world, but as many mamas know, it sure isn’t easy. When you’re literally supporting your kid every step of the way by helping guide their career paths with what books you read and how many STEM toys are in their toy box, there’s a lot of pressure to be the perfect new parent. And unfortunately, it only gets harder — even after they stop crying all the time.
You’ve heard all about the “terrible twos,” but a recent study done by Arizona State University shows that mothers endure the most stress when their children hit their early teens. The findings suggest that when kids go through puberty, they’re asserting their independence, which can mean hurtful eye rolls and risky behaviors. For parents used to having sweet, obedient children, this can come as a big surprise. “Several factors come together in a perfect storm,” says researcher Suniya Luthar in a press release on the study. “One, the kids are dealing with puberty and all that this implies — hormones, acne and changing bodies. Two, they are drawn toward experimenting with alcohol, drugs or sex.”
The study, which was published in Developmental Psychology, polled 2,200 women with children of a wide range of ages, and surveyed their emotional well-being, their confidence in parenting and their perceptions of their kids. The report showed an inverse V correlation, meaning moms with newborn and grown children experience the least levels of stress. “Little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems,” Luthar says.
But it’s not all bad news. Luthar explains that mothers who take care of themselves fare much better than those who pretend to be supermom. Try these tips to save your sanity while parenting a tween.
1. Educate yourself and other moms. It’s not uncommon to see women with baby bumps draped over What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but parents often don’t read up on coaching teens into adulthood. Do your own research before your toddler becomes a tween and try not to make assumptions about how your children might act when they’re older.
2. Make time for yourself. It’s impossible to shuffle kids from soccer practice to the movies when you’re running on empty. Treat yo’ self every once in a while to maintain the calmness that helps you deal with tough parenting situations. Get together with friends (it’s as good as exercise) or recharge by meditating.
3. Be there when decide they need you (They will!). Puberty introduces a new realm of challenges, from the public pressures of good grades to wanting to be seen as popular. Sadly, those loving words of affirmation and hugs that you used to give might not provide the reassurance kids are looking for, but when they have a change of heart, provide a listening ear.
How do you refuel? Tweet us at @BritandCo to let us know!
(Photos via Getty)