Authored by David Christensen, Youth Services, Counseling Services, LCSW
Let’s face it; raising a family is hard work! Whether you’re a single parent or in a two-parent family, caring for children can be a real challenge. Parenting can bring some of the greatest happiness but yet the most intense anger. Unfortunately, every year many parents let their anger express itself in unhealthy ways including child abuse. Abuse comes in many forms: verbal, physical, sexual, and neglect. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and there are some basic steps that parents can take to reduce frustration, eliminate abusive behaviors and increase those happy parenting moments.
When traveling on an airplane, adults should place an oxygen mask over their own face before helping small children with their masks. Similarly, parents need to take time for themselves. Self-care is an important aspect of parenting that often gets forgotten. Basic principles of enough sleep, healthy eating, exercise and a small amount of “me” time can go a long way when caring for children.
It is often said that “the family that plays together stays together”. Building strong families is an important piece of parenting and eliminating abuse. Having positive experiences with your children will help you get through the rough times. Activities that can build a family’s strength include recreational activities, story time, family dinner, movie night, family council and many, many more.
Know your stuff
People often joke that parents don’t come home from the hospital with a manual. Raising children is challenging and parents shouldn’t be left to themselves to try and figure things out on their own. There are many parenting books that give pointers for dealing with difficult situations. Even the most veteran parents can have a child that throws them a curve ball from time to time. If reading isn’t your thing, many agencies have a parenting course that will educate you on how to deal with those challenging moments as well as give ideas for strengthening families. Youth Services offers a free course for the whole family with no cost child-care! Call 385-468-4500 for more information.
But what if…
If you feel like you are losing your cool – don’t despair, there are options. The Family Support Center in West Valley City offers a free crisis nursery that is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. They accept children from birth to 11 years old for parents who are overwhelmed. They can be contacted at 801-967-4259. Youth Services offers crisis counseling for youth and families and 24/7 respite care to assist overwhelmed parents. They accept youth ages 8 to 17. They can be contacted at 385-468-4470.