Being a parent during your midlife years can be physically and emotionally challenging. However, with the right approach anyone can overcome midlife parenting challenges. To help understand common obstacles midlife parents face: how someone can overcome midlife parenting challenges and types of help available for midlife parents, I have interviewed therapist Kavita Acharya Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice in the Phoenix area specializing in working with adults and teens that suffer from anxiety, depression and self-esteem issues. I also specialize in couples and marital therapy, and provide help to couples for a range of relationship issues, from couples who are newly entering a relationship, to longer-term relationships for those unmarried or married couples who have lost their connection or trust with one another. I provide guidance for parents who need a fresh perspective to assist their pre-teens and teens. I have a special interest in women’s issues, self-esteem and multi-cultural issues.”
“I’ve been in the field of mental health counseling for over 18 years, and been in private practice in Phoenix for the past 11 years. I hold a Master’s degree in Counseling from Wright State University and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Arizona State University. My experience is expansive, ranging from crisis intervention to adult and child psychotherapy. I have written articles for the local paper and presented workshops for women’s organizations and wellness events.”
What are common challenges midlife parents have?
“Although research shows that midlife parenting can be quite rewarding, parents in this age-range can face many obstacles. Those who may not have extended family nearby to lean on for support may feel isolated and alone in their parenting efforts. Although this is not unique to just mid-life parents, a mid-life parent may be faced with not only lacking a support system, but may be taking care of their aging parents as well. For some, their parents could already be deceased. For those in the caretaking role, they may find themselves in the dual roles of taking care of young children and aging parents at the same time; going through almost opposite life events at the simultaneously. Having an adequate extended family support system when you are a parent is essential, although in this day and age, almost seems to be a luxury. For those midlife single parents, this may be all too magnified. Financial considerations are also an issue for midlife parents. Unless parents in midlife are established financially and career-wise, they will face the stress of financial challenges, while trying to raise kids, support aging parents and establish career goals later in life. Again for the single, midlife parent, the financial constraints can be insurmountable.”
“If parents are in their midlife, they may be facing their own physical challenges and limitations. Raising growing children and teens requires almost boundless physical and emotional energy. If proper health of the parents is an issue, it could pose another obstacle to raising children. Naturally, a parent can be at risk for health-related concerns throughout the lifespan, and it’s not just specific to a midlife parent. Also generational gaps don’t always have to pose an issue, but “traditionally-minded” parents might find it difficult to handle the contemporary ways of the “multi-faceted” teenager. In addition to having good physical health, being in a healthy place emotionally and psychologically is so important when we are parents, midlife or otherwise. The more grounded one feels as a parent emotionally, psychologically, physically and spiritually, the more we can send that positive energy to our children.”
What type of impact can those challenges have on the parent child relationship?
“Naturally, if parents don’t have adequate financial resources and stability, it will require them to work more to sustain a healthy environment for their children. This could naturally decrease the amount of time they can spend with their children to support them with academic, social and relationship needs. This again is magnified with single parent households. The impact on the parent-child relationship can vary depending on how parents manage the stress of finances, care-taking of aging parents, physical and emotional concerns and other stressors.”
How can a midlife parent overcome those challenges?
“As a parent, it is important and vital to recognize your limitations, just as it’s important to recognize your strengths. As a midlife parent you may face challenges that are unique to your situation. Ask for support. If you don’t have extended family nearby or close friends to lean on, then begin to develop a support system. Join a support group in your area specific to parenting or even midlife parenting. Often times churches hold support groups on various topics. Keep yourself emotionally and physically well. The healthier you are, the better you’ll be able to support your children’s needs. Part of self-care is learning to set boundaries. If it’s necessary to say “no” to family and friends, then do so. Ask your siblings and relatives to help out with your parents, even if it means obtaining additional resources for aging parents. Explore career and work options that keeps you home more if need be, while still generating an income, especially if your physical and emotional health is being comprised by working outside the home too much. Whatever keeps you fulfilled is what is important. For some that could mean working outside the home, but for other it’s not. And finally, remember you can’t be everything to everyone – know your limitations as a person and as a parent!”
What type of professional help is available for someone who is midlife parenting?
“Seek professional help. Find a counselor in your area that specializes in parenting, especially midlife parenting. You can do an Internet search, call your insurance company for referrals or even ask your family physician or pediatrician for therapists they recommend.”
Thank you Kavita for doing the interview on how someone can overcome midlife parenting challenges. For more information on Kavita A. Hatten or her work you can check out her website on www.phoenixcounseling.net.
Disciplining a Rebellious Teenager
How to Talk to Your Teenager About Sex
Risk Taking Teen and Parental Behavior