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Getting Real with Parenthood: The Struggles, the Chaos and the Hope

Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-05 21:51:23-05

FOX 17 - Let's be honest, parenting can be tough. Add societal pressures, and it can get overwhelming.

These days it might seem that everyone has an opinion on how to "be the best parent," but the reality is, there is no perfect parent and no perfect child.

Maybe you're thinking, "Toughen up! It was your choice to be a parent." But the thing is, a lot of parents feel this sense of defeat but may be too scared to speak up for fear of looking like a failure or being judged.

You are not alone.

Bobbi Fassen is a busy mom of three and says her life is crazy and chaotic. Fassen admits that with three kids at three different developmental stages, it can be a challenge. When one of her children developed a speech impediment and started to act in bizarre ways, she began to struggle. It's why she decided to reach out for help.

"Just let me kind of step back and have tools in my own bucket to be able to use when my kids are absolutely insane and losing their marbles."

Fassen started seeing Jesilee Bonofiglio, a child and family therapist.

"I say, if I could create a coffee club of parents who are struggling, who can say this isn’t what I imaged parenthood is, I would say we would fill up a number of coffee shops and it would be amazing," she said.

Bonofiglio says what many are thinking: “You love your kids, but you won't always like them.” Her goal is to help parents understand that what they're doing isn't necessarily wrong, it’s that it hasn't been matching what your child needs. As a parent, you've probably been there with the tantrums, the feeling as if you can’t get through to your child and the stress and frustration that comes with it all.

"Children don’t like having things out of control,” explained Bonofiglio. “They want the limits and the boundaries. They want to know that their needs are going to be met. They want to know the adult is going to follow through, even though children may push those limits and boundaries."

Bonofiglio offers up some tools to help on the job:

1. Re-frame.

Instead of threatening punishments, re-frame their choices and never give a consequence you can’t stick with. Bonofiglio reminds parents that whatever you are going to do as a parent, make sure it’s going to be consistent and you can follow through on it.

2. Give constructive phrases.

Don’t just say “good job” and “great work,” but more specific to what the child is doing.

"A lot of parents question why am I going to praise my child for doing things they should be doing? I say, ‘if they could do it, they would already be doing it. So, the fact of the matter is that they need that praise to continue that and even if they were already doing it and you need something to praise because everything else is falling apart, go for it!"

3. Give physical affection.

"Societal expectations say that you're spoiling your child if you don’t give them a consequence and send them away. So, when you're bringing them closer, you're making them a ‘mama's boy’ or a ‘daddy's girl,’ whatever it is. You're teaching them to rely on you and I say, ‘no you're not. You're teaching them that emotions are OK and that we can calm down and you're calming down their nervous system’."

4. Remain calm.

Kids feed off your emotions. She reminds parents to take a breather and say, "I want to be best parent I can be, and right now, I need to calm down."

Of course, you'll never have all the answers in every situation and as much as you love your kids, there will be good days and bad. Bonofiglio wants parents to remember to give themselves grace and take things as they come.

"Understand you're going to make mistakes. You're going to feel like you have failed and like you are ruining your kid, but as long as you continue to love each other and continue to try, there’s always hope. Keep it up, take deep breaths, reach out to your friends, do whatever you need to do to keep your sanity," she said.

Fassen can't agree more.

"I'm a much better mom and adult and woman in life because I do have help,” said Fassen. “We need to still boost each other up! We're all busy. We're all trying to maintain everything that is going on with families and kids and jobs. Ask for help, go get it."