Why It’s Okay for Parents to Ask for Help When Parenting Teens

When parenting, do you ever struggle enough that you wish you could ask for help? You’re not alone. 

As a mom of four daughters (ages 21, 20, 10, and 4) and as the founder of a global community for moms, I have realized that we all struggle with asking for help, even when we most need it. 

When we are new parents and our kids are small, everyone offers guidance, advice, tips, tricks, and hacks. Sometimes it can be frustrating because everyone is chiming in to tell you what to do, but it also feels very supportive. 

When Things Begin to Change

As children grow, you become this “veteran parent.” It becomes harder to ask for help because you’re supposed to have it all together, and supposed to feel like “you’ve got this.” We take on a lot and impose unfair expectations on ourselves. By this point, very few people are quick to offer assistance, and we are overcome with guilt and shame, feeling like we’ve dug our own hole.

Parenting was never meant to be a solo endeavor.

Why Parents of Teens Should Ask for Help

Parenting was never meant to be a solo endeavor. The old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” is not cliché – it’s a warning that can help us navigate parenting more easily and with grace, not only for ourselves as parents, but for our children, as well. 

While most acknowledge that parenting is a challenging journey that benefits from collaboration, support, and shared experiences, we don’t often admit it to others.

However, it’s not your fault. Here are the three main barriers that can get in the way:

  1. Societal stigma
  2. Trauma
  3. Ephebiphobia

Societal Stigma

We generally don’t ask for help because we fear criticism and judgment from other parents and our own family members. Society has conditioned us to believe that asking for help is for the weak and a sign of failure. It’s actually the opposite. Asking for help is a sign of strength.

We often experience guilt and feel we are being viewed as inadequate or incapable because of a societal or cultural belief that “a parent should know” or that we must be self-reliant, self-sufficient, and self-sacrificial. 

These traits can be noble, but in my experience, they can be inappropriate and detrimental unless there is a balance. We pride ourselves on being “supermoms or superdads,” which is actually code for “perfection.” Of all the mythical creatures we believe in, the “perfect parent” is the most damaging to our self-esteem and our children, especially in the adolescent years.

Trauma Triggers

When we’ve been through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and other traumas, it’s normal to want to have a sense of control by doing it all ourselves, and it is natural to become perfectionistic. These trauma symptoms can lead to isolation and make asking for help feel extra uncomfortable and awkward so we try to avoid that feeling at all costs. 

In addition, we are encouraged to deny, dismiss, and downplay our pain, and this can lead to disease, dysfunction, and disconnection. 

Ephebiphobia

Ephebiphobia is the “fear of teenagers.” It’s a widely known belief that teenagers are scary and difficult. This incorrect and undermining negative view of teens may be why parents are offered very little to no support during the adolescent years when we need it most. 

While it’s important to acknowledge the emotional, social, and mental challenges unique to this developmental stage, we must recognize that parenting is challenging no matter the child’s age.

These three factors can lead us to feel alone, like we have no one to turn to for guidance, advice, or support. 

The Benefits of Asking for Help When Raising Teenagers

When we drop the outdated facade of the perfect parent who has it all figured out and instead are willing to be vulnerable and reach out for support, we:

  • Model healthy behavior that will help our teens in their journey to becoming well-adjusted adults
  • Feel supported by others, so we have the space to act in more supportive ways to our teens. Supportive parenting starts by being open to receiving support
  • Give our children access to a network of supportive advisors so they are not alone when they resist parental advice or direction
  • Create a safe space for teens to ask for support, helping them avoid burnout and teaching them the power of teamwork and collaboration
  • Become able to be more present with our children because we enjoy better mental and emotional health
  • Improve our parenting skills as we discover new resources and learn from other parents, caregivers, and professionals who share valuable insights about parenting teens.

Watch Out for This Pitfall When Asking for Help

Asking for help is a proactive step to protect your physical, mental and emotional well-being. Set a positive example for your teens, and help break the stigma around receiving support.  We often put off asking for help until there is a crisis or breakdown, so when we do ask, it can come off wrong.

I’ve learned that when we discuss our struggles, it’s essential to respect our teen’s privacy and to use language that doesn’t blame or shame them. Although stressful at times, their attitudes and behavior are part of their development process. After all, it’s their job to stretch into new territory. As you ask for help, focus on how you feel and what kind of support you need or would love.

Let’s Start Asking for Help in Parenting Teens

This is not the part where I will tell you that admitting I need help has gotten easier over the years. I still feel like I might break out in hives every time I do. Thoughts of how I am somehow neglecting my responsibilities and how I shouldn’t delegate my job almost always come up. 

But I will tell you this: when we have the courage to ask for help despite the discomfort, we can be healthier and happier. I always say that the best gift you can give your child is a healthier, happier you. 

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a powerful choice that deepens your connection with your teenager and demonstrates your strength and commitment to being a positive parent.

 

This article was written by Elayna Fernández. Founder of the Positive MOM® and mom of 4 daughters, Fernández is an award-winning Storyteller, Story Strategist, and Student of Pain. Her blog, books, and programs inspire millions of moms around the world to break cycles, find peace, and feel whole. To learn more, visit thepositivemom.com/keynote-speaker and follow her @thepositivemom.

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