Parents are the pillars of our world as they have the very important roles of protecting, caring and educating their children, and inadvertently helping professionals to become better at their jobs.

In my view parents require to acknowledge their need for personal space and self-care too. When they do this everyone in the household increases their self-awareness and consequently self-worth.

The key points are that parents realise that they might have been dismissing the guidance available to them: their emotions. The exhaustion they experience sometimes (or often), indicates a diversion from their own self-love path. I see this happening significantly in my work as clinical psychologist, as normally other demands and worries take priority.

I work mainly with parents of autistic children and I witness great potential and love coming from them; however, I also notice reluctance and insecurity when it comes to trusting themselves first. This is perhaps due to longstanding beliefs related to the topic of autism or learning disabilities, parenthood, individual narratives and social expectations. Parents require to remember that their lives are equally important, and that they deserve to mind the gap between their thoughts and their actions, and enhance their sensitivity to the way they feel.

If you are a parent of a child with autism you will most likely experience ambivalent and puzzling emotions.

Most people raise the theme of rigidity, and need to stick to a routine to not intensify anxiety on the child, which in many ways is positive because it provides the physical and emotional safety and the secure attachment that they are entitled to. However, it is likewise relevant that parents remember the importance of space for personal reflection and to not suppress creative and spontaneous behaviour.

Scientists of psychology have carried out extensive research that confirms the impact of social conditioning which is interconnected with how parents have been also brought-up and their exposure to education. If you have come from a chaotic family, or a high achieving one, you might not have been reminded to appreciate your emotional states. I’ve seen many times parents flourishing when we initiate discussion about the principle of self-worth. Very quickly they become quite creative and insightful, and able to troubleshoot challenging situations at home with minimal or none support.

I would like to recommend that parents become more attentive to their emotions, and to take a non-judgemental stance even if these emotions are convoluted, such as anger or serious frustration. Instead see yourself as extremely valuable and also an emotional being that is deserving of unconditional respect and self-love.

Take a deep breath and re-connect with the purpose of your existence in this magnificent planet that supersedes the mind blocks and any unpleasant emotions.

Article written by Dr Andreia Santo (April 2020)

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