By Joy Evans
Joy Evans, “Help for Parents in Times of Stress: Preventing Abuse,” Ensign, Apr. 1984, 58
Are there times when I feel that my emotions are out of control? Is punishing my children an outlet for personal anger and frustration? (Discipline is given in love by a parent in control for the benefit of the child. Abuse is given in anger as a release for the parent.) At such times a parent can help himself. Here are some useful techniques:
1. When you catch yourself feeling angry toward your child, stop whatever you are doing. Put the child in a safe place (crib, playpen, or separate room). Say a quick prayer for help from the Lord, then take a few minutes to calm down. You may want to lie down or think of the most peaceful scene you can imagine. Take time in your prayers to talk to the Lord in depth and then listen for his counsel.
2. Call a trusted friend or confidante, your visiting teachers, or home teachers. Having someone to talk to may be just the help you need.
3. Simple friendliness, noticing and extending yourself to new people in the area, alleviates a feeling of loneliness, replacing it with a sense of belonging. Invite others to activities with you and your family.
4. Schedule time for yourself and with your spouse. An occasional night out can give you necessary time away from the children, time to relieve pressures and strengthen marriage and family relationships.
5. Find ways to increase your self-esteem. Get your high school diploma, or complete a college degree. Perhaps you could gain a new skill. Get involved in an exercise program. Exercise not only promotes good health but can help you feel better about yourself. The Church’s Pursuit of Excellence program is one way of identifying and focusing on goals for self-improvement. As you gain a feeling of competence, your feelings of frustration will decrease and you will be more capable of serving and nurturing your children.
6. Enroll in the Family Relations course in Sunday School. This course can provide insight into and strategies for deepening the love you feel for your partner and your family. Relief Society homemaking lessons can help mothers learn wise resource management and increase homemaking skills, which can help alleviate financial stress. Often, Relief Society lessons help mothers develop interpersonal and social relationship skills and a greater understanding of gospel truths that can help them as parents.
7. If the problem is potentially serious, seek counsel from your bishop. The bishop is qualified to assist. He has the guidance of the Spirit and the resources of the Church at his disposal. If additional help is needed, he may refer you to a qualified counselor.
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