New parents often spend hours going to birthing classes to prepare for one day, yet what is far more important is what to do for the rest of the baby's life. How many people or partners examine their beliefs and values around being an actual parent?
A lot of misunderstandings can be avoided simply by having a session as a couple to discuss tricky issues around expectations of being a parent before the baby is born and bubs comes home. Discuss the big-ticket items like
Who gets up for the baby at night?
Who changes bubs?
What will change in the home-based duties?
How long will each parent take off work?
What are your values about health, how to settle baby, leaving baby with others, co-sleeping?
How will you split income? Who pays for baby?
Sex, when will it resume and how often will it happen?
How will you discipline when baby is older?
Relationship Conflict with New Parents
Parenting is challenging. We have an assumption that parenting is instinctive and that we should know what to do, but in fact it's not. Our instinct is to nurture and protect, but how we go about doing this is up to us.
Being the parents of a new baby can involve huge changes and pose huge challenges. Not only has the relationship changed but new babies can bring up issues and strains parents didn't even know they had. Ideally you work through these prior to the baby arriving, but issues in the early days are remarkably common and feel particularly difficult. Seeking extra support as a couple at this delicate time is a sign of resourcing support.
Clarissa is a qualified and experienced couples counsellor who has worked with Relationships Australia and has been trained in the PACT method of couples counselling. Being a parent is the single most important role you will have in your life.
Parental Ambivelence, uncertainty and fear of becomming a parent
For some, preparing to be a parent is the most exciting thing ever. For others it is a time fraught with worry and anxiety. Clarissa can help you sort through your concerns before the baby comes along because the worry may not go away once baby is born. Parenting is not as natural as people make out, especially when how we bring up our children is under close scrutiny. Perhaps you are not sure if you even want to have the parenting experience at all. Or maybe you have discovered an unexpected pregnancy that is causing you concern. Clarissa is certified in Perinatal Non-Directive Counselling, which is a medicare item specifically for women who are experiencing concern over a current pregnancy or one that occurred in the last year.
Are you ambivalent about having babies, unsure you want to be a mum? Clarissa has a special interest in working with women who are ambivalent regarding having children. This could be due to experiences with their own parents or things that happened to them as they grew up. There are many women who have struggled with the idea of having a baby, often until it is too late. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting children, but when part of you does and another part of you doesn't, then you might want to have a closer look at this inner conflict.
If you are already a parent but worry about your parenting abilities, then this applies to you also. Perhaps you fear doing to your children what was done to you as a child, or maybe you are constantly plagued by guilt and anxiety where your children are concerned. Maybe you are a child of an adult with a mental illness, or one or both of your parents had addictions or were simply inconsistent or chaotic. This might have left you without a role model and with no clear idea of what a good parent is and how they should act.
All of these concerns are very valid reasons to seek assistance.
Parent Counselling As a psychotherapist, Clarissa can work with your inner conflicts and deep-set doubts surrounding nurturing and parenting. As a psychologist, Clarissa is a registered provider of Perinatal Non-Directive Counselling, which is eligible for medicare rebate under the Medicare Access to Better Health scheme. This special rebate category is for women who have concerns over a current pregnancy, or one that occurred in the past year. This means that if you are already pregnant and feeling uncertain about your ability to parent, then you are eligible for a medicare rebate that will partially fund three sessions for you to discuss your concerns.
Children of Parents with a Mental Illness Clarissa has also trained with COPMI (Children of Parents with a Mental Illness), an association dedicated to helping children of parents with a mental illness. If you are a grown adult who grew up with a parent who had psychological problems, this can sometimes lead to issues when you have children of your own. These problems may lay dormant until you have a baby, at which time the stress of being a new parent coupled with underlying issues from the past may combine to cause symptoms, including signs of Post-Natal Depression.