Helping parents & caregivers design their own handbook for raising amazing kids.


The Parenting Rollercoaster of Emotions

By Emily Mall

Posted on September 18, 2023

Adult standing in front of a roller coaster with kids on it
Adult standing in front of a roller coaster with kids on it
Adult standing in front of a roller coaster with kids on it

Parenting is a rewarding journey filled with love, joy, and precious moments, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges and emotional ups and downs. From the elation of holding your newborn for the first time to the frustration of dealing with a toddler's tantrums or a teenager's rebellion, parents experience a wide range of emotions. Knowing you are not alone with your feelings can make a world of difference. 

Here are some common, normal emotions that we face as parents and a few strategies for managing them in a healthy and constructive way.

1. Overwhelming Love

One of the most common emotions parents experience is overwhelming love for their children. This love can be so intense that it's terrifying. How will I not mess this kid up? How do I even do this? While it's entirely natural and beautiful, it's essential to manage it constructively.

Strategy: Express your love through hugs, words of affirmation, and quality time with your child. Allow yourself to enjoy these feelings, but also remember to maintain a balance in your life, nurturing other relationships and self-care. 

2. Frustration and Anger

Parenting can be frustrating, especially when children misbehave or push boundaries. Moments of anger can be challenging to handle, but it's crucial to channel them positively. Our kids watch us closely and use us as a guide for their own reactions and responses. Becoming a parent can trigger a lot of our own childhood wounds that pop up when we least expect them. 

Strategy: Take a step back when you feel anger rising. Practice deep breathing or counting to ten before addressing the situation. Leave the room if you need a few minutes to get in touch with what you are feeling. Communicate your feelings calmly and use disciplinary methods that focus on teaching rather than punishing. If you notice that your responses and reactions are difficult for you to manage, seek a professional who can work with you and help you, so that you, in turn, are able to show your kids how to manage theirs and set them up for a healthy life. 

3. Guilt

Many parents grapple with guilt, feeling they're not doing enough or making mistakes in their parenting journey. Guilt can be paralyzing and counterproductive. It can keep us from living our own lives. We refuse to go anywhere or take vacations without kids because we feel guilty about leaving them behind or living our lives without them. We abandon our boundaries out of guilt, worried about being seen as mean, harsh, or unloving. 

Strategy: Remember that no one is a perfect parent and no one loves your kid more than you do. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist to help process feelings of guilt. Focus on the positive aspects of your parenting and the love you provide your child. Join a parenting group to get in touch with others who might have similar thoughts and feelings and alleviate the guilt through sharing it. Read highly rated parenting books and learn how others work through guilt. 

4. Worry and Anxiety

Concern for your child's well-being is natural, but excessive worry and anxiety can be detrimental to both you and your child's mental health. Overthinking and losing sleep over racing thoughts just isn’t worth the tax it has on your body and overall health. 

Strategy: Work with a therapist to learn how to manage your anxiety and worries. Stay informed about your child's activities and surroundings, but avoid becoming overly controlling. Foster open communication with your child so they feel comfortable discussing their fears and concerns. Consider exercise and mindfulness techniques to manage your own anxiety like yoga and meditation. 

5. Sadness and Grief

Parenting can bring moments of sadness, such as when your child faces disappointments or when they grow up and become more independent. You may also experience grief over the loss of your autonomy, who you once were before you became a parent, and how hard it is to adjust to a new way of living.  

Strategy: Allow yourself to feel sadness when it arises. Acknowledge your child's emotions, too. Use these moments as opportunities for growth and learning, both for you and your child. Use journaling as a tool to process your emotions, and as a way to catalog all you are experiencing as your life changes and grows. 

6. Pride and Joy

Celebrate your child's achievements, no matter how small. Life is too short to get caught up in failures or mistakes. Feeling proud and joyful can be incredibly fulfilling and create more satisfaction in your life. 

Strategy: Embrace these positive emotions and share in your child's excitement. Encourage their efforts and celebrate their accomplishments together in creative ways. 

7. Overwhelm and Exhaustion

Parenting can be demanding and exhausting, leading to feelings of being overwhelmed. Keeping a human alive other than yourself is relentless. It’s hard enough to make sure you’re exercising, eating right, sleeping well, and managing stress. Add in another needy human, and you’ve got a lot on your plate. 

Strategy: Prioritize self-care. Seek help from your support network when needed, and don't be afraid to take breaks or ask for help. Establish routines to manage daily tasks efficiently. Set boundaries with yourself and others. Be compassionate towards yourself: You’re doing hard, important work! 

8. Confusion and Uncertainty

Parenting doesn't come with a handbook, and it's natural to feel confused or uncertain at times. What is the latest advice on discipline? When do I keep my kid home from school if they are sick? What do I do if my kid seems moody? What is that rash? Why is my kid different from other kids?

Strategy: Seek guidance and advice from trusted sources, whether it's other parents, books, online resources, or a doctor or therapist. Trust your instincts and remember that every child and family is unique. No one expects you to know it all, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. 

9. Loneliness

Parenting can be isolating, especially for stay-at-home parents or those with limited social support. Your social circle often changes once you’ve become a parent, and it’s a reality to face. Exhausted and barely getting full nights of sleep, it often feels like too much work to reach out, go out, or make new friends. 

Strategy: Connect with other parents in your community or online support groups. Share your experiences and feelings with others who understand what you're going through. 

10. Gratitude

Last but not least, parenthood often brings feelings of profound gratitude for the love and joy your child brings into your life. These little humans are amazing and never stop impressing us.

Strategy: Express your gratitude daily, whether it's through verbal affirmations or keeping a gratitude journal. Cultivate an attitude of appreciation.

Parenting is a rollercoaster of emotions, and it's okay to experience a wide range of feelings. Managing these emotions in a healthy and constructive way is essential for your well-being and the well-being of your family. Remember that seeking support, practicing self-care, and fostering open communication with your child are powerful tools for navigating the emotional landscape of parenthood. Embrace the joys and challenges, and cherish the precious moments you share with your children on this incredible journey.

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Helping parents & caregivers design their own handbook for raising amazing kids.

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Helping parents & caregivers design their own handbook for raising amazing kids.

© 2023–2024 Great job. All rights reserved.