Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Intense" attitude study correlates nearly 1 in 4 moms being depressed

Join me parents, in generating awareness of the findings revealed by this smart new study that looks at how mothers’ attitudes about parenting affect their mental well being, and their risk for depression and anxiety.

Based on the hyper sensitive concept of “intense parenting” – the belief that everything you do matters sooo much – might actually explain this “parenting paradox” quite well.      

In my opinion, this study of (181 mothers of children 5 years old or less) is concise and refreshing because it offers five factors to encapsulate the correlations and may inspire the potential to let go just a bit (heck just choose one at a time, because if you are intense like me you just might try to give up all 5 overnite and then wearily claim defeat!)

intense parenting or whimsy?
 Essentialism is the feeling that mothers, over fathers, are the more “necessary and capable” parent.
•Fulfillment in parenting is defined by beliefs like “a parent’s happiness is derived primarily from their children.”
Stimulation is the idea that you, the mother, should always provide the best, most intellectually stimulating activities to aid in your child’s development.
•Challenging is, as you might guess, the idea that parenting is just about the most difficult job there is (participants ranked statements like, “It is harder to be a good mother than to be a corporate executive”)
. •And Child-Centered refers to the idea that kids’ needs and wants should always come before your own.
Interestingly, the higher the women scored on these factors, the higher their intensity as mothers. The authors also looked at social support the mothers got from their families, and whether they were depressed, stressed, and how generally satisfied with their lives they were. Although there were various correlations to each; across the board, about 23% of the mothers in the study were depressed, which is quite a bit higher than the rate of depression in the general public (which is about 6.7%, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health). Wow--- nearly 1 out of 4!
I appreciate this perspective from Forbes columnist, Alice Walton: It’s so easy to feel that every little thing we do will have a make-or-break effect on our kids’ development or success in life. But it’s important to remember that this just isn’t true. Putting our own mental health right up there with our kids’ – perhaps even first – is probably the best way to go. Since kids are so highly intuitive, working on own happiness and mental health is the best thing we can do – though it’s easier said than done, it’s probably the best legacy we can leave.

Keep reading... if you dare...YOU may just find a bit more humor, whimsy and find a deep seeded longing of joy in the midst of the mama journey...
attachment parenting in theory
In my short years as a parent there is so much about this perspective and these 5 factors that resonate in my soul. My family legacy of steadfast hard work from midwest farming and being raised by a single mom "essentialism" or what I have come to nickname as "self sufficiency superhuman" just to help me giggle at myself; runs deep in my blood.

This very mindset CAN be MY deepest joy sucker IF I allow it; I adore my children, anyone who knows me can see it, BUT there have been seasons in the last 7 years where I just didn't "like them all that much" and it really stemmed from me not being very satisfied with myself.  Although I embraced the theory of "attachment parenting" from the moment they descended from my birth canal and were placed skin to skin, by the time 9 -15 months rolled around, not only was I feeling suffocated and tremendous guilt from not getting enough sleep and not knowing how to adequately self care BUT my extended family & I were in denial that being overwhelmed by the simplest taskes and fatigued beyond reason could EVER happen to the super capable, cup is half full, cheerful and resilent good girl who did everything in the right "order". (READ postpartum depression)

just one child at a time

In each of my children, yes, often times I am AMAZED that I survived beyond the first one to actually go on to have more and not just 2 but now 3!  I found it was essential for my emotional, mental and physical well being that I induldge in a healthy dose of selfcare- for me it was solitude, whether it was walking 20 minutes a day by myself and carving out time either in the evening or on the weekends to actually REST by myself for a few hours by reading, crafting or visiting a friend. Because then I truly felt more in touch with myself and longed to come back and genuinely enjoy my family again.
 We all have heard Hilary Clinton's, it takes a village quote ... whether we are democrat or republican, stay at home or work or do both, many of us look down on "the village" or the associations I just referred to; if we are honest, we just don't feel like we fit into these contexts of community and at some point we didn't identify with the "clique" we were excluded from, if not at least once, then many, many times since then. Many of us are just downright awkward at socialization and we don't have high school, college or work place dynamics any more to automate the process for us. After all, making friends as a mom is so much harder when you factor in children and husband, not to mention nap and work schedules and then that dynamic of interests and personailities with tolerance or lack thereof. Oh vey! Can anyone relate?

Perservering past our "insecurities" toward maturity can be so challenging, if not now as parents, than when?  When the kids have graduated high school or college and you look at your spouse and have nothing in common because children have invaded the intimacy of your relationship? 

Playing on the floor
Seeking out connection or "stimulation" as it's labeled above is that for the weak, to not be the BEST at everything? Do we lower our mile high standards and choose humble submission that someone knows or is capable of something that we aren't, has gifts that can compliment our own? This concept that YOU, the mother, should always provide the best, most intellectually stimulating activities to aid in your child’s development, although deep seeded in my psyche too, the reality is there are about a dozen people better at playing army men on the floor than I am, my husband being the first.  This is a HUGE relief for me to admit, after 7 years of parenting and thankfully, NOT everyone is as good at making chocolate chip cookies as me, or I just might not have won my husband over with that 17 dozen home baked gift nearly 20 years ago!

In my mind; this is also where the "challenging" mindset can comes in, much like a CEO making strategic business decisions all day long, they have a huge team of people and support helping drive their success and in my opinion, that is where this home making stuff is f@?!*cking hard. Not the hardest EVER, but emotional boot camp for sure, you have to build your team WHILE a newborn, toddler, adolescent is sucking you dry? It's so vulnerable and totally a dichotomy to let anyone inside your "circle" when you are feeling totally lost and barren.

In today's business world, where I at one time earned accolades, six figures and efficiently created and managed hundreds of employees for at least 60 hours a week, before birthing my children, I noticed that every effective or the truly "great" leaders I ever met (a stark contrast to the many I met who were not so great) surrounded themselves with people "better" than themself, so that in due time, they were promotable, even replaceable, as a sign of MOST effectively equipping the culture.

Not that I need to be replaceable because I'm not planning on going anywhere soon (I reassure my husband of this often) although at times I joke and imagine the luxury of leaving on a jetplane and just not knowing when I will be back again. But I began this parenthood quest to create capable people and leave a legacy, whenever I leave this earth behind.

In my journey, God has been so gracious in these 10 years of marriage and 7 years of parenting to very slowly humble, equip me with a MORE gentle spirit AND the profound realization that the father of our children, those spoiling grandparents, the younger and "FUNNER" mom friends who make smiley faces with ketchup and put cherrios in the toilet during potty training (Kara Goldsworthy!!) and yes, even the young adults who tease, rough house and adore my kids (Gabby Leon, Stephanie VillaDavis, John Harvey, Cory Marquez, Dan Jensen) THESE PEOPLE ARE my compliment, silly, spontaneous and in so many ways downright "essential" to my orderly, responsible, at times too proper and precise homemaking. Hallelujiah!

community beyond what we could have imagined

Quite frankly the "child centered" & "fulfillment" mindset are NOT how we as humans are wired, we simply SHOULD NOT expect ONE person or even our CORE family unit of ONLY 2 or 3 people to fulfill our deepest needs, we will end up sorely disappointed, after all we all are HUMAN, falliable and it is this "enmeshed codependent" thinking that I have known for quite a long time in my own journey that propagates such staggering rates of loneliness, anxiety and depression. This is part of why best selling therapists and authors, Cloud & Townsend, have sold so many helpful books, articles and provided resources on boundaries to have healthy relationships!  Heck, I'm a loyal customer, I've found by creating firm boundaries that honor who I am and what my priorities are has enabled me to "embrace" the chaos of motherhood and actually experience "joy" not just once in a while, but in the midst of the daily quotidian before I completely miss this fleeting season that is precious and innocent in childhood!

be gentle on yourself
If it STILL feels impossible for YOU, I understand that too, depression and anxiety can be so debilitating, and I have been there, it's so hard sometimes to know where to start.

Just be gentle on yourself,     are some of the wisest words of healing and receive grace, offered for those in the misdt of the storm.    

Whether you comment publicly here on the blog or message me privately on Facebook  it would be a JOY to journey with you.  For when I'm not caring for my own family, I cameo as a postpartum doula because I take joy in equipping families with spiritual encouragment, emotional tools and physical support during seasons of change

I wholeheartedly believe in the deep seeded mission: it takes a village, but I simply had NO IDEA what it meant until I became an intense parent in need of Gods amazing grace. 


  1. Needed to hear this. Thanks.

  2. Blessed by how God makes connections beyond what we could imagine!!! I'm here whenever you need a hand, hug or two ears to listen! YOU are amazing!!!