Renew Counselling and Training

The role of parental mental health in Shaping Us

Nikki Schuster, CEO

Earlier this month, HRH Princess of Wales released a new video as part of her campaign, Shaping Us. The Princess also visited a project that received a £50,000 grant from her Royal Foundation, Centre for Early Childhood. The Shaping Us campaign serves as a powerful call to action, emphasising the significance of early childhood and igniting discussions about why it matters.

Inspired by the campaign, in this week’s Renew blog, I’m delving into the crucial role parents play in shaping their children’s early years. Specifically, I wanted to explore the importance of supporting parental mental health in order to foster optimal development during this pivotal stage of a child’s life.

Being a “good enough” parent

Shaping Us looks at the huge role that positive early childhood experiences play in shaping individuals. Key to this is supporting the people around the child – and it is therefore essential to recognise and address the challenges faced by parents in caring for their children. Supporting parents during difficult times is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to the development of children and the overall wellbeing of parents and caregivers.

Here at Renew, we are delighted to see the Shaping Us campaign highlighting the significance of early childhood. However, we need to bear in mind the context in which parents are raising their children. Young parents often feel an immense pressure to be perfect and may experience a sense of inadequacy. Through counselling, we work with parents to create a safe space where they can seek help without feeling stigmatised or pathologized.

Sadly, in today’s world, young parents find themselves confronted with numerous environmental and social difficulties, including the cost-of-living crisis, cuts to public services, the aftermath of the pandemic, and the impact of social media. These challenges place substantial strain on personal relationships and contribute to increased stress levels among parents. It’s so important that parents are aware of the support services available to
them, as well as ensuring that we can provide opportunities for building resilience through counselling.

Everyone is struggling in their own way, and no family is immune to hardships. It is important to approach this topic with empathy, understanding that parents are doing their best under difficult circumstances. Our language and approach should aim to provide support rather than pass judgement, recognising that perfection is an unattainable goal in parenting. Rather than focusing on achieving perfection, we should encourage parents to embrace the concept of being a “good enough” parent, as coined by Winnicott.

Bravery in asking for help

It is essential to acknowledge that sometimes things don’t go according to plan, and children may require additional support to navigate the challenges they face. In these situations, parents should be commended for their bravery and proactive approach in seeking counselling or other forms of support for their young children. The mark of a good parent lies not in their ability to handle every situation flawlessly but in their willingness to recognise when things are not going well and to take action.

Seeking help demonstrates a profound level of care and concern for a child’s wellbeing. It is a testament to a parent’s love and commitment to ensuring their child’s healthy development. By reaching out for support, parents demonstrate strength and resilience in their pursuit of providing the best possible care for their children. 

Supporting parental mental health is an essential step in enhancing children’s early childhood experiences. The Princess of Wales’ campaign serves as a reminder of the importance of this critical stage of development.

By providing non-judgemental support and counselling services, we aim to alleviate the pressures faced by parents and empower them to navigate the challenges of early parenthood effectively we want to foster an environment that recognises the struggles faced by parents and gives them a safe space to ask for help, while celebrating their commitment to providing the best possible care for their children.

If you’re a parent in need of support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to provide assistance and guidance on your parenting journey, should you need it.