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Nurture The Mental Health of Your Family

How do you nurture the mental health of your family? How is your mental health?

As moms, we can’t take care of our children’s mental well-being if our own is not in good shape. We can’t give what we don’t have.

Think about it. The mental health of each member of your family is paramount as you face life’s challenges together. But, have you become so focused on the needs of your child that your own health is slipping? If so, you are not alone.

Between the meals, laundry, shopping, dental visits, homework assignments, bandaids for scraped knees, and hugs from broken hearts, often moms focus more on their children’s well-being. Sure, we are aware that we are running a bit ragged, but we’re tough. We’re strong. We can handle stuff while keeping our child’s interests and needs first.

However, it is crucial for moms to take care of their own mental health so that we can nurture the mental health of our family.  When the gas tank is empty, the car won’t go. When the battery is drained, the phone won’t work. Similarly, when moms run on empty and when our batteries are depleted, we have nothing left to give to our family.

When moms experience significant emotional pain, we can become weary of perpetually hurting. Shutting off those torturous emotions is a coping device with tragic side effects. However, our feelings come bundled together as a package containing emotions we like as well as the ones we prefer not to experience. To shut off hurt and sadness also severs gentleness, goodness, happiness, and peace. Stuffing emotions does not eliminate the feelings we don’t want to experience. Instead, unresolved pain erupts sideways through behavior, depression, and an inability to connect with others, including those we love most.

Nourish Your Own Mental Health

Our emotional health impacts our physical health, and our physical health can be an indicator of our emotional health. One of the best gifts we give to ourselves and our children is a parent who exercises personal responsibility for our good health. Doing this will in turn help you to nurture the mental health of your family. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Find Biblical health and wellness coaching
  • Exercise
  • Nourish your body well
  • Hydrate
  • Get enough sleep
  • Take time for yourself
  • Take personal retreats
  • Attend a conference
  • Surround yourself with a supportive community
  • Process with a mental health professional
  • Foster meaningful relationships
  • Learn how to set and keep boundaries
  • Ask for help

More ideas can be found in this post

Ideas to Nurture the Mental Health of Your Family

Create Emotional Safety

Above any other factor, emotional safety is the key to raising children who lead, live, and love well. One of the most important gifts we give our child is a home synonymous with safe. Parents have first access to the deepest and most impressionable place in a child’s heart. By consistently extending big and small acts of kindness, respect, and thoughtfulness to one another during good days and challenging seasons, family members form relationship glue. These touchpoints hold family relationships together despite crisis, and through celebrations.

Teach Emotion Regulation

One of the most vital skills parents teach their children is how to contain their emotions. We encourage children to fully feel their emotions without allowing feelings to control them or their behavior.

In addition to life’s regular challenges, our family experienced divorce. Divorce is the gift that keeps giving, the pain is fluid particularly when characterized by unkindness, and perpetual court involvement.

How, in the name of peace, do children respond?

Children often feel different emotions at different times. One child will be optimistic, one will be angry, one will be sad, and one will feel their relationship with their father is well at this moment. Allow each person to experience their unique feelings and emotions with four codicils:

a. You can control your emotions so feelings are not an excuse
b. Do not take your feelings out on someone else
c. Do not demand another sibling feel different than they do
d. Do not insist or manipulate another to behave a particular way

Help your children understand these principles so that each child will feel validated and can work through their own emotions at their own pace, in their own way, while allowing their siblings to do the same.

Encourage Character Growth

Esteemed UCLA basketball coach Jon Wooden is arguably the greatest NCAA basketball coach of all time not just because of his winning record but because he shaped young men into better people. He created a list of life principles that affect one’s character and behavior. We can apply these same principles for ourselves and in our parenting.

  1. Be true to yourself.
  2. Make each day your masterpiece.
  3. Help others.
  4. Drink deeply of good books.
  5. Make friendship a fine art.
  6. Build a shelter against a rainy day.
  7. Pray for guidance, and give thanks for your blessings every day.

Validate Their Emotions

Each child’s experience is their reality. Rather than feeling safe, children feel confused and controlled when another diminishes their feelings or insists on a designated behavior.

Divorce can create an environment where parents act like children and children try to fill the responsibilities of adults which does not nurture the mental health of anyone in your family. Gift your children with the assurance that you will continue to be the parent. Free them to fully be children

  • focused on their individual relationship with God
  • listening to God’s guidance in the life He already prepared for them

Guide children to fully feel while not being controlled by their emotions. You and your child can experience emotions and contain those emotions. Let your child rest in the peace of not needing to control or parent siblings.

Have Fun to Nurture the Mental Health of Your Family

Studies reveal that people who include fun and play in their lives are more forgiving and accepting of themselves and others, more optimistic, healthier, and have an easier time receiving and giving love. We are created to laugh and play; to cry and express sadness; to recover from grief and loss; and correctly handle anger.

An important characteristic for a balanced and solid life is emotional maturity. Having fun doesn’t have to cost money you don’t have. A powerful dynamic of emotionally safe homes are parents and children who engage in joyful activities, new holiday traditions, and weave opportunities to laugh into the family fabric. Studies show that laughter releases endorphins, relieves stress and stimulates vital organs so it actually is good for your health to laugh. Find ways to cultivate more laughter into your life.

Click on these links for further reading on how to not let your emotions control you and on mom self care.

For more tips, see The Ten Best Decisions A Single Mom Can Make by Pam Farrel and PeggySue Wells

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Meet PeggySue

We’ve heard of soccer moms and stage mothers. I’m a writer who trailers my kids and horses across the nation. My Apple computer, fondly christened MacBeth, is the essential I bring along.