Self-Care for Parents

a woman plays with her dog as a way to illustrate self-care for parents | Discovery Ranch South, a Residential Treatment Center for Girls and Teens assigned Female at Birth

Self-care is care that is provided by yourself, for yourself. When your teen is crisis and out of control, taking any time for yourself can feel selfish. It isn’t. It is necessary, and probably one of the best things that you can do to help support your teen. By practicing self-care, you will show your teen how to live a healthy life, as well as giving yourself the energy to continue to support her.

Acknowledge Your Needs Matter

When you become a parent, you put your kids needs first. However, that does not mean that you stop having needs, desires or interests. Stop feeling guilty for being human.

Amy Przeworski, Ph.D., defined the problem parents face. “The problem is that we need to engage in self-care and to make ourselves a priority–even if we are parents.  We need to relax and to think of ourselves and our own happiness, not only think about what would make others happy. And we need to show our children that being a parent is about caring for your kids but it’s also about caring for yourself.”

Instead of feeling guilty for taking care of yourself, praise yourself for your good parenting. By taking care of yourself, you are being a positive example to your daughter by teaching her the importance of balancing needs and responsibilities.

Ask for Help

If you need help–or even a break–it’s a good idea ask for the support that you need. Try to let go of the idea that you have to do everything by yourself. This is especially true for parents of teens in crisis

“Admit that you’re exhausted from dealing with your teen’s troubles. Don’t feel guilty, and don’t beat yourself up,” suggests Amy Morin, LCSW. “It’s normal, you’re human, and dealing with any difficult human is a challenge. When that difficult human lives in your house and depends on you, it’s even more draining.”

In addition, some issues need a higher level of care than even the most loving family can provide. If you are dealing with complex issues, such as mental illness, personality disorders, or substance abuse, seek help from a professional. Asking for help is not a sign of defeat. Instead, it shows that you care enough about your teen to find the support she needs.

By taking care of yourself, you are providing a good example to your daughter and ensuring that you can continue to support her in the future. Laura Choate Ed.D., LPC, has the following advice for parents, “If our daughters don’t see us implementing these same [self-care] skills in our lives, it will be hard to convince them of their benefit. Instead, if she sees you as an adult with healthy coping skills that include restorative self-care activities, then she is more likely to develop these skills as well.”