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Instruction Manual for Kids: Parental Burnout

**Post by guest blogger Rusty Rea**

Parental Burnout is a legitimate condition.  To understand and combat it, you must look at some fundamentals.  There are differences among inadequacy, exhaustion, depression, stress, hopelessness, confusion, and shutting down.  However, to the parent(s) who have fallen so far as to hit “burnout” status, there is little difference, because to them, it all means the same thing – it’s them -and it’s their fault.

As any good counselor would begin, first, take a deep breath, splash some water on your face, and force yourself to focus… it’s going to be okay!  Not to say this lightly, but the best part about hitting bottom is you’ve limited your directions to only two: you can remain, or you can ascend.  If you don’t like where you are at, then ascend.

Before you begin to ‘give it one last shot’ you first need to figure out: 1.  How you got to where you are at and, 2.  Where did you fall from?  Is your perspective wrong?  Are your definitions wrong? Are your values or motives wrong? Are your goals realistic?

If you don’t examine the question of  ‘how’d we get here’ you will keep trying to climb the same broken ladder, because either your definition of success or your execution is skewed – or both.  You’ll set yourself up for failure, and choose to stay at the bottom hoping to bribe your kids into a friendship instead of fulfilling your parental obligations.  I say that bluntly on purpose, not to criticize… but to provoke you to continue reading.

I am the last person to criticize those who fall prey to burnout.  Most parents burnout because of the best intentions to be the best parent ever — at their own expense.  The heart is right… so don’t lose heart!

As I have been developing this series I have been shaping and explaining my philosophy of parenting.  If you are new to this series type ‘Instruction Manual for Kids’ into the handy search bar, and you can see my previous posts.  If you are a regular, then you are familiar with my aphorism ‘imperfect parents perfectly parenting imperfect kids’….  

Let’s look at a few things with that.  First, you are imperfect.  Come to grips with that, and be okay with that.  Too often we try to swallow all of our issues and exude ‘perfection’ all to eventually crumble to have the ‘I suck’ moment.  One extreme to the next.  Just because you are imperfect doesn’t mean you have to ‘suck’.  Just acknowledge that imperfection in yourself is okay.  Deal with your issues, and better yourself as an individual.  But just because some issues remain doesn’t make you a failure that must muster up a sense of perfection.

Second, your kids are imperfect, and need to be trained.  Read last week’s post, to see how my philosophy changed from dictator to teacher.  Often times we feel that if our kids have issues, or are disobeying, that it’s a reflection on us… Darling, that’s only half true.  If my kids are awesome, it is because we’ve parented, trained and disciplined them to have soft, teachable hearts and we’ve allowed (to the best that we know how) their personalities and senses of humors to come out .  If my kids have issues, it’s because they are imperfect and it’s a reflection on both us and them.  That’s not a license to have unruly kids and adopt a ‘kids will be kids’ attitude.  But realize that their need to be instructed is a reflection on both you and them — don’t own all of it.

And, third, perfectly parenting.  Here is the kicker!  This is the you doing your part, and the reflection on you.  Perfect parenting begins with clear definitions.  Success is when you have taught yourself that you are always training your kids.  Success is when you follow through. Success is when you are honest with your kids when you mess up .

Parental burnout occurs when you, with the best intentions, sacrifice yourself to give your kids a ‘perfect’ parent.  In a ‘perfect’ world with a ‘perfect’ life.  Again, this isn’t the call for parents to get involved, so this is where I will say don’t forget time for yourself.  If you see your spouse trapped in burn out, take the kids and give them a break.  If you haven’t been on a date with your spouse since before the internet was invented, then turn off your computer and focus on your relationship.  You’ve tried to give them ‘exhausted, hopeless, weary Perfection’…. How about you give them ‘refreshed, alive, focused Imperfection’?….

Take a deep breath, splash some water on your face, it’s going to be okay…..


This post was linked to Welcome Home Link Up at Raising Arrows, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, Titus 2 Tuesdays at Cornerstone Confessions,  WLWW at Women Living Well, Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways at Frugally Sustainable

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