With Mother’s Day fast approaching, the Parenting Research Centre has some resources to help professionals to give the gift of support to the mothers and carers they work with.
More than half of mothers reported that they had experienced anxiety since becoming a parent, according to a Parenting Research Centre study.
Fortunately, linking mothers in with programs and information addressing parenting challenges has the potential to alleviate some of this anxiety.
The Parenting Research Centre’s recently-released Parental Anxiety Research Brief found that anxious parents may find it harder to get the support they need for their parenting.
To help mothers understand how looking after themselves is also good for their children, the Parenting Research Centre has a suite of tools that family services sector professionals and practitioners can offer mothers who need some support to help their children thrive.
The Parental Anxiety Research Brief is part of a suite of reports compiled from the latest Parenting in Victoria Study – a comprehensive survey of the concerns, needs and behaviours of 2600 Victorian parents conducted by the Parenting Research Centre every three years.
Principal Research Specialist at the Parenting Research Centre Dr Catherine Wade said factors associated with higher levels of parental anxiety among mothers included having a child with anxiety or other complex needs, having lower household income and a less flexible employment situation.
“Experiencing parental anxiety often leads mothers to find parenting more frustrating and demanding and less enjoyable. It also means mothers can feel less confident in their parenting and don’t feel like they are doing a good job as a parent,” Dr Wade said.
“Unfortunately, these parents are also less likely to do things to relax and re-energise.”
The Parenting Research Centre’s Parental Self-Care and Self-Compassion Research Brief details how about a quarter of parents do not regularly practice self-care, and mothers are less likely than fathers to practice self-care.
Dr Wade said professionals were in a position to support these mothers to make time for self-compassion and self-care, and this was important as evidence shows that mothers taking care of themselves has a positive influence on how their children develop.
“Research suggests that when parents practice self-care their mental health improves, which can consequently lead to increased use of positive parenting strategies, which then leads to better outcomes for children,” Dr Wade said.
“Self-compassion is a skill that can be developed and therefore should be considered by those designing and delivering parent and parenting support.”
Dr Wade said the Parenting Research Centre was involved in a range of programs that professionals could offer to mothers who might need some support:
- ForWhen – a free navigation service offered by a network of agencies nationwide for expectant and new parents to access critical mental health support;
- Play Learn Grow – the Parenting Research Centre is partnering with the Centre for Community Child Health at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne to lead the development of content for the Victorian Government Department of Education and Training’s Play Learn Grow text message program for parents of 2- and 3-year-olds,
- MyTime – MyTime supports parents and carers of children with disabilities. It connects them with others in similar situations and offers skilled guidance from a facilitator to help them access local services and reliable information, and
- raisingchildren.net.au – the Raising Children Network – raisingchildren.net.au – is a complete online resource for Australian parents and carers. It offers trusted, reliable, free information on everyday parenting issues from pregnancy through to teens.
Find more evidence-based information on parenting support in the suite of research briefs compiled from the latest survey data on the Parenting Today in Victoria website.
Other available research briefs include:
- Child sleep;
- Parental use of technology;
- Quality of life;
- Information seeking.