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Parenting when we’re feeling vulnerable

Families this year have been through huge changes. We’ve had to change the way we parent, the way we school, how we keep our family physically active, the ways we stay in touch with others, and how we celebrate our families’ achievements and milestones. Let’s give ourselves a moment to acknowledge this. How amazing are we, as parents and carers, for doing what we can to adapt to these changes!  

We’re also experiencing vast vulnerabilities. There’s the vulnerability of uncertainty – with the kids’ education, teaching from home, juggling work, financial income, and what struggles and joys are ahead. And it goes without saying that COVID-19 means we have to take extra care of our families’ and our own mental health and wellbeing. Emotions might be running high. Maybe our patience with the kids hasn’t been great? We could be anxious or flat like the days are blending into one, or simply not sure how we’ll cope. These are the moments when we’re at our most vulnerable. And our first reaction might be to ignore how we feel, or keep it hidden. But, it’s in these moments when we’re feeling vulnerable that connecting with someone and talking it through is the best thing we can do.  

Because nobody should have to face big challenges alone. And vulnerability is what connects us together. It’s what makes us human. It shows others that we’re honest about our imperfections and struggles. And if we’re honest about our struggles, it tells our mates that they can do the same. So, it just takes one person to take the first step and talk out the tough stuff going on inside.   

So, who to talk to? Well, different people have different strengths:  

Some people are great at helping us take our mind off things. Maybe they make us laugh or keep us in the moment. They mightn’t always like talking about the really emotional stuff, but they’re great at helping us take a break from our worries from time to time.  

Others are great problem solvers. They give us ideas for a way forward. These people are great when we really do need some ideas for how we’re going to take action.  

Others are great at listening, hearing us out, asking questions so that our situation makes sense to them, and letting us know we’re not alone. Having another person to listen, and think things through with us while we talk out our challenges can make all the difference.  

So, when things are tough, the first step is to think about who the best person is to talk with. Whether it’s calling a mate for a chat, or ringing a service to get some practical support, we’re lucky in Australia to have lots of options when the going gets tough. We can give the guys at Parentline or Lifeline a call. We can search www.oneplace.org.au. There’s Womensline and Mensline for when we need to talk though domestic and family violence. And there’s Queensland’s Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 when we’re struggling with food, a disability, or getting practical support during the coronavirus outbreak. We can be thankful, though, that Aussies are all about helping each other out.  

In saying that, let’s keep an eye out for our mates, neighbours and other parents too. We could set-up a buddy system with our kids’ friends so they can check-in with each other and do school online together. Or we could give someone a call who we happen to know might need a chat.

And in the end, the vulnerability we may be feeling, and the hardships we’re going through – COVID-19 and everything that comes with it – we’re all in this together. And it’s just one chapter in this life we’re living. Because the only certainty in life is change. It may be hard to imagine life after COVID-19 at this point in time. But step by step, day by day, we will get there, and we’ll be wiser for it. And when all this is over, the sun will never have felt so good. 

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