“Take care of yourself.” How many times have we heard or offered that well-intentioned piece of advice? I know I’m guilty of it occasionally. But for parents of an adopted child or children with behavioral problems, “take care of yourself” is a vague and counterproductive sentiment.
The North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) held a conference in Long Beach, California from July 29 to August 1, 2015, and there are some helpful links on their website. In particular, there is an article from ten years ago that still offers detailed and solid advice for parents who might need something a little more substantial than “take care of yourself.”
I alluded to this idea in the last Toolbox blog post when I cited the importance of modeling positive behavior when handling stress or anger. Licensed independent social worker Deena McMahon says you must “build self-care into your daily routine…your happiness and well-being are not peripheral to, but essential for good parenting.”
Among other items on her “road to good self-care,” McMahon recommends:
- Keep it simple. Resist the impulse to over-commit what little time you have. Prioritize. Save energy for things that really matter, and seek outside help as soon as you need it.
- Stop comparing yourself to other adults and families. They do not live your life, and they are not raising your children. Get comfortable with compromising and being different.
- Join a parent support group. Meeting with other parents who have similar experiences and feelings is one of the most powerful and renewing activities for anyone raising children who have special needs.
Regarding that last one, NACAC’s parent group database can connect you with 900 adoption-related support groups across the U.S. and Canada. Go here to enter your search terms. Alternatively, visit this page to reach out to a local NACAC volunteer, and be on your way to the self-care and well-being you deserve.