Why “intense” moms are more depressed

In the June publication of the Journal of Child and Family Studies, a study was published that kicked off another series of articles about how parenting causes depression and unhappiness.

Here we go again.

To be a fair, the study referred to in these articles specifically tags those who practice “intense parenting” to be more prone to depression, not parents in general. Even so, the topic is one to make those of us in this community of “deliberate” mothers a bit uneasy. Is there a difference between being a “deliberate” mother and an “intense” mother, and if so, what is it?

I get a little riled up over studies like these for several reasons, but one in particular: I don’t like the possible inference that since parenting doesn’t make you deliriously happy every day of your life then maybe it’s not worth doing.

It’s a simple fact that life is full of both times as well as experiences that will test our “mental health” with feelings of anxiety, worry and, yes, depression. Trying to avoid any and all experiences that may cause some sort of mental or physical discomfort feeds into the selfish attitude of those who want what they want NOW, and they want it to come easily and without pain or struggle. The problem with this type of thinking is that it doesn’t take into consideration the potential long-term benefits that often come from personal sacrifice.

I can’t help but think of the nine incredibly long post-college years that my husband endured medical school and a surgical residency program while we were married and raising our first three children. It certainly wasn’t the highlight of our married life. He was painfully overworked and woefully underpaid. It would have been so easy for him to say, “This is for the birds. I’m not feeling happy or fulfilled. I’m outta here.” But his vision of what he wanted his life to be long-term was much bigger than his day to day experiences. And it was those visions of what he wanted for himself in terms of a career and what he wanted for our family in terms of financial stability that kept him going. Was he “happy” during those years? Did he have an overall sense of balance in his life? Was he able to avoid all feelings of inadequacy, burn out, or guilt for not being home more often? Of course not, but that wasn’t the point.

Motherhood is much the same. Many women struggle successfully through the early years of motherhood understanding they will eventually reap the benefits of having intelligent, caring, hard working children who return their love in later years. No one ever promised that motherhood would bring happiness and personal fulfillment at every stage in life. Motherhood can be hard — really hard — but it is by nature a lifelong calling that garners various rewards and benefits over time.

I mention this because the researchers of this particular study only interviewed women with children ages 5 or younger. This struck me since I do have this paradigm of motherhood being a life-long pursuit with some of the most personally fulfilling “pay days” landing much further down the road. Mothers with children under 5 years of age are notoriously more frazzled, overwhelmed, and, possibly depressed than mothers with school age or grown children. (I know, it depends on the children and the situation. I’m speaking in generalities here.)

It seems a bit overreaching to quantify depression in mothers based only on women with children in this narrow age group. Not only are the early years extremely difficult because of the demanding nature of caring for babies and young children, but mothers in this stage are also at a disadvantage in the sense that they are still relatively inexperienced and have yet to see the fruits of their labors. Their perspective can often be unfortunately shortsighted.

Perhaps this is one of the key differences between an “intense” mother and a “deliberate” one. A deliberate mother sees the bigger, long-term picture, and knows that the messes, tears, and sleepless nights of today aren’t going to last forever. She understands what it means to sacrifice of herself without totally losing herself, and that her sacrifice is for a grander purpose in the future.

I think the words of Proverbs may apply here, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Is it possible that having vision and a purpose amidst the craziness of motherhood can protect against the very depression this study refers to? I like to think so.

Keeping all of this in mind, we at The Power of Moms do not encourage any behavior or attitude that is truly and chronically bad for a mother’s mental health. But because most women don’t want to miss out on the opportunity of becoming a mother, and motherhood has the potential to cause significant mental health challenges in some circumstances, we need to find better ways to deal with the difficult times and debilitating attitudes that mothers face at one point or another.

Which takes us back to the specific differences between “intense” mothers and “deliberate” ones. (Because we really aren’t keen on associating motherhood with depression!) In the study mentioned, the authors used five categories to define “intense parenting” which were found to cause both anxiety and depression in parents — namely mothers.

  1. Essentialism—the feeling that mothers, over fathers, are the more necessary and capable parent.
  2. Fulfillment —the belief that a parent’s happiness is derived primarily from their children.
  3. Stimulation—the idea that the mother should always provide the best, most intellectually stimulating activities to aid in their child’s development.
  4. Challenging—the idea that parenting is one of the most difficult jobs there is (participants ranked statements like, “It is harder to be a good mother than to be a corporate executive”).
  5. Child-Centered—the belief that the child’s needs and wants should always come before the parent’s.

To compare and contrast, I’d like to mirror the list above with my own list that defines, in part, what it means to be a “deliberate” mother as opposed to an “intense” one.

  1. Importance—the belief that a mother plays a vital and important role in her child’s life, along with the child’s father, grandparents, siblings, teachers, and other positive role models.
  2. Fulfillment—the belief that part of a mother’s happiness is found in raising her children to the best of her ability, including a balanced pursuit of her own dreams and goals in order to serve as a role model for her children while also maintaining a sense of personal identity.
  3. Encouragement–the idea that a mother is meant to encourage, not to entertain. While a mother does provide many wonderful learning opportunities for her child, she also encourages “free play” and the independent use of her child’s imagination.
  4. Challenging—the idea that raising another human being to adulthood is one of the most worthy and difficult pursuits in life, but it is viewed as a do-able challenge, not an impossible burden.
  5. Family-centered—the belief that a child’s needs and wants should be considered within the greater context of the entire family’s happiness, including the mother.

I could be off my rocker, but as I see it, “intense parenting” isn’t child-centered at all. It is mom centered. The mom is the center of her children’s universe. The mom is the only one who can properly take care of her children and help them reach their potential. The mom is constantly doing something for her children, invoking Martyr Mommy Syndrome. The mom is worried about the success of her child because she believes it will be a reflection of her mothering. The mom, the mom, the mom, the mom.

The irony is that a mother who cares for and values herself as much as her children, a mother who is able to step back and let other people have an influence on her children, a mother who lets her children work certain things out on their own — that mother will actually do more for her children than an “intense” mother who feels and acts as though her children couldn’t survive without her. In a very real sense, caring for oneself and knowing when to step back is actually the better definition of being child-centered.

It seems to me that the bottom line is to not get too wrapped up in self-importance. Of course a mother’s influence is one of the most powerful forces for good in a child’s life, but it’s not the only influence. It might help to think of ourselves as stewards and facilitators rather than masters of our children’s destiny. That’s their job.

It also seems important to remember that at times, love (and by definition, sacrifice) hurts. Most mothers love their children more than anything in the world and are doing everything they know how to help them become the best they can be. Even when they’re trying to take care of themselves and have appropriate balance in their life, that kind of effort and vulnerability opens a mother up to heartache, anxiety and, yes, sometimes depression. It can be comforting to know that’s part of the program and that motherhood is a life-long journey. Today is not forever.

Maybe I shouldn’t get so riled up about these studies after all. They do give us warning signs to look out for and facilitate finding solutions that strengthen mothers. And because these “intense” mothers are trying to do nothing more than be the best mothers they can be, the implications of this study must be quite comforting.

QUESTION: Are you more of an “intense” mother or a “deliberate” mother? Have you ever experienced depression based on the factors mentioned in this study?

CHALLENGE: If you are an “intense” mother, try stepping back a little bit more today. Let dad do a little more of the child care, challenge that belief that you always have to be front and center, take some time for yourself. Consider it the best thing you could do for your child.

 


34 comments

  1. Kim

    I definitely err on the side of intense mothering and that is why discivering “Power of Moms” has been such a blessing and help in my life. I can feel myself relaxing more everyday!

    • Allyson Reynolds

      So glad to hear it! I err on the side of intense too, so it’s good for me to recognize the difference between intense and deliberate and know how bring more balance and peace into my home.

  2. Travis

    This is completely untrue, any kind of intensity or in-tenseness could only increase one’s happiness. Its a proven fact that it does increase happiness. I dont believe this article at all. It is totally false everything written in this article. Intense mothers are the happiest mothers out there and have better control of their households than other mothers.

    • Allyson Reynolds

      It depends on your definition of “intense” which was one of the main points of my article. Intense mothers think they are the only ones who can properly care for their children, don’t take care of themselves, and always put the needs of their child first even if it makes them depressed–which is clearly not good for the children! A deliberate mother tries to do all things in moderation, being sure to also care for herself so she is better equipped to care for her child. Did you read the whole article or just the title?

    • Marie

      Travis, I see where you are coming from. If children are your greatest source of happiness, then by allowing your children to consume your life as a mother (which we all know is 24/7), shouldn’t your happiness also exponentially increase?

      However, from a practical standpoint, I completely disagree with every single point you’ve made. My own mom is by definition an “intense” mom and I’m wondering if you have actually come across an “intense” mom. I love her deeply more and more everyday as I learn to become a mother myself, but there are many things that I will not repeat from my childhood. I’ll give you examples from the five definitions:

      1. Essentialism: My mom did not believe that anyone was as good a parent as she was. Ever. My Dad included. She felt that everyone but herself was going to lead us down a path that would lead to danger or failure. She would remind us of that very often.

      2. Fulfillment: My mom had a horrible childhood and constantly said, “I am living my childhood through you.” Often times she did things and would say, “I would have loved this as a kid!”. Asking to do extracurricular activities outside of the house was usually cause for BIG argument. We were and still are expected to remain at home. My mom considered friends to be “interruptions”.

      3. Stimulation: She thought she could provide the best of everything at home where we were safe. Whenever she had to give up something for us, it made her happy, especially if it was a big sacrifice. Although, later it would inevitably come up again in an explosion of anger that we would never understand her sacrifices and that we should never have kids of our own. This always frustrated us kids because our encouragements to get her out of the house or to let us out would bring on these outbursts. She had great control over the family because we didn’t get to leave the house!

      4. Challenging: She believed that NOTHING was harder than being a mom and that it was rare that people actually understood what that meant. It also meant that no one could do things as well as her. She’d be frazzled and angry saying no one ever helped her, but when we did, we were told we didn’t know what we were doing and she’d redo it all herself. We were also never allowed in the kitchen to cook because we would “waste ingredients”, “leave a mess”, etc even if these things didn’t happen. I left for college having absolutely no idea how to cook and feeling that if I tried, I would fail.

      5. Child-centered: She never went anywhere. Date nights between my parents … rare. I honestly can never remember her doing anything for herself. She now has terrible self-esteem issues.

      The reason why I ask you if you’ve ever met an “intense” parent is because a household with an “intense” parent is not happy. It’s tense! My mom has let up considerably now that my siblings are in college. However, it’s because as she puts it, “I’m just giving up, you are all gone now so what’s the point anymore?” Does that sound like a happy mother to you? No. She was not often happy. She was depressed, constantly absorbed in guilt, worry, and anger. But she never let anyone else know that, not even my dad. Only we saw it as her kids. When I think of my mom I feel very, very sad. I hope my mom can feel happy someday that all of her children are grown-up to be good people and that us leaving home is a good thing.

      Lastly Travis, are you a mother?

      • gratefulmouse

        I was called an anxious mom…I was really…when anything happened to my kids it was as if it happened to me. I took everything hard but..didnt show it..I talked a lot to my kids so they couldnt say I never told them. I am also known as a rescuer..i didnt know I was like that..I even do that with other people..my 5 kids are all gone..1girl and 4 boys..only one boy isnt married and i will be glad when he is…because a 2nd pr of eyes would be watching over him…it took me a few years to get over them leaving home..and at first I was overwhelmed about my grandkids not being raised like I raised mine…afraid of things happening to them…I had to learn to let go and let God…my faith in God helped me to get through my nervousness..and anxiety over my kids…

    • Allyson Reynolds

      Again–whether or not intensity equals happiness depends on your definition of the word. It’s probably safe to assume that most terrorists are “intense” people. The word “intense” is used in this case to suggest extreme behavior (not allowing anyone else to ever care for your child, always putting the needs of the your child first, believing a mother should be stimulating her child’s brain every waking moment of the day, etc.) which clearly does NOT bring happiness. Now, if you’re talking about intensely loving your spouse or children? Great form of intense! But this study was defining intense parenting as extreme behavior that leads to depression. It’s all in your definition. Speaking of definitions . . .

      de·pres·sion/diˈpreSHən/
      Noun: Severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.
      A condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life.

      • Deedee

        Thank you for explaining the WORD depression. It is real and I’m sorry to hear that some people don’t want to acknowledge it. I loved this article. I can see how I used to be an “intense” mother but have since learned to be a “deliberate” one.

    • Marie

      I don’t think you read this article, nor do I believe you know an “intense parent”. Also, you should try to find some articles from a medical source regarding depression. Depression is very serious and shouldn’t be brushed off for any reason.

  3. theSecretDigest

    To all mothers, my heart goes out to you. Yes, to get your child to listen, pay attention and behave at all time without having to resort to verbal threats, constant bribes is real stressful if not depressing.

  4. Alyson

    I’m concerned with the comments on intense parenting being the best for happiness. Every Church related article (and psychology based article for that matter) on positive parenting I’ve ever read said that you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. Real world example? If in an aeroplane you are required to put on an oxygen mask, parents are told to put their mask on first, before attempting their children’s mask. Why? From a wonderful blog: “If we aren’t breathing, we won’t be doing anything, never mind assisting someone else.”

    Deliberate parents balance the needs of their children with the needs of themselves. When parents stop tending to their own spiritual, mental and physical needs, and go into ‘I’m the only one who can do anything for my children and everything about my personal identity will be locked up in a box until they are older’ mode, that’s when parenting in a Christ centred manner (with the Spirit guiding our actions) ceases.

  5. michelle

    I find it funny that the ones who are arguing intensity is a great thing probably aren’t mothers. I think too many of us confuse intensity with determination. We all want our kids to be smart, productive citizens as they grow into adulthood. What many moms forget is that is also taught by example you can just force it on a child. If you are not taking care of yourself as a mother how are the children supposed to know how to truly take care of themselves. I am a product of intense mothering and that has actually made my adult life more difficult. Children of intense mothers don’t learn as well how to deal with things for themselves as easily and feel dependant on their mothers longer. I do however know that even trying not to be an intense parent there WILL still be moments of heartache and depression cause that’s just life but it absolutely lessens these things for both parents and children alike.

  6. Sundahl

    Thank you for this article! The 2 points I failed on were “challenging” (I have an MBA and ran my own metal manufacturing business for 10 years and have chosen to be a “stay @ home mother”) and have said these EXACT words before & “stimulation”… I have really felt terribly guilty about that this summer as my children have started switching from adolescence to teenagers often finding their own entertainment outside the home… I have felt guilty (and quite seriously depressed (or inadequate as you so adroitly pointed out). Thank you for pointing to some other options of thinking! And for showing me others struggle with similar thought processes. You’re article really helped me today! Today I realize I often do think of my choice to stay at home as a “martyr” role and that, I am not the center of their universe, and remember, that’s okay too… I made it thru absentee parenting and turned out okay, maybemaybe they will make it thru my pendulum s Sweeting redactions

  7. Amber

    With my first child i was an “intense” parent, which for me (along with a lot of other factors) did cause me to go into depression. I had never had a history with depression so it was very new and scary to me. Fortunately by child 2 and 3 I started to figure things out and a lot of that change came with becoming more of a deliberate mother and not taking life too seriously, as well as adopting a “hope for the best but prepare for the worse” type of attitude. For example, “My 2 year old will throw a tantrum today, how will I handle it?”, instead of “if my toddler is unhappy it is my fault” or “I just can’t handle my toddler having a tantrum today.” Mom is happy..kids are happy. Take a little time to take care of yourselves and your spouse for that matter :)

  8. Jo

    Allyson, as a mother of five children, ages 14 to 24, I couldn’t agree with you more on the point that parenting doesn’t necessarily “pay off” until much later in life. The first five years…I wish I could cradle those young mothers in my arms and tell them that it will get better. On the other hand, I love the upper elementary school years. Talk about “cuise control.” They can bathe and dress themselves, they are excited about what they are learning in school and they haven’t hit the challenging years of teenage angst. BTW, I have also loved my teenagers as I have gotten to know them as budding adults. The bottom line is: I loved your article. I wish it could make it’s way into the life of every struggling young mother. P.S. Thank you for your intelligent responses to both Travis and Don. I believe if we are ever to make headway in balancing the responsibilities of parenthood between the mother and the father, we need to speak directly and succinctly to the men in our lives.

  9. Doug

    A great article! My wife, the happy and well-balanced mother of twelve (out of twelve…) good children, asked me to read the article to see if I thought it appropriate to send to our married children. She felt as if it reflected so clearly her philosophies and personal experiences in successfully raising children–including getting through all of the “adventures” that span all of the years (yes, even/especially the teenage years) of child-rearing. The five elements of being a deliberate mother should be posted on every mother’s (and father’s) bathroom mirror–a constant reminder of proper priorities in parenthood. Bravo for articulating a sane and encouraging approach to parenting!

  10. Julie

    I really liked this article! Being a mother is the hardest job yet the most important ever!! And I might add, can be the most rewarding if we allow it. I am a working mom who is just starting back to school myself. Last night I had a very frustrating time with some assignments. Our older daughter was asking me questions about my homework. We were all doing homework but Dad, who is also in school.
    I’m so thankful for this article at this time. It helped me understand that I can still be really involved in my childrens lives by allowing them their independence and taking care of me too.
    Yes, it does take a village to raise a child!! My sister has always told me this and it is so true!! Thanks Allyson!!

  11. Kati Blackledge

    I was intrigued by this headline and to my amazement, the article went a very different way than I had expected. I am an intense person. I was raised by intense people. I have had times of depression that I understood, and a few times of depression that caught me off guard, and nothing seemed to help, and there was no reason for it. But I don’t think any of the cases of depression were caused by being an intense mother. I have felt the most depression when I felt alone, abandoned or not loved. SOmetimes that happens as a parent. Sometimes your kids downright hate you. I remember hating my parents for a long time. SO now, I try to make sure I have habbies, or things that fulfill ME so that I am less prone to this depression. I am moving towards my kids being more self sufficient as they are 12 and 13 now. I have to look out for myself, my marriage and them. If I am not fulfilled personally, How can I fulfill any of them?

  12. Sarah

    Thank you for this article! The question you presented (What are the differences between intense and deliberate mothers?) was just the one I hoped you would help answer. I really agree with everything you had to say.

  13. vickie

    I do agree with there are intense mothers and deliberate mothers and there are other catagories as well..mothers who are lazy or mothers who have kids just to have them and then go about their own lives as if the kids didnt exist…I am older now 61 and had 5 kids one girl and 4 boys and married to a man in the airforce…so I was a very busy mom..I chose not to work all the time but did at oft times for which I really regret now seeing how it can totally disrupt the home life atmosphere with children and husband making do. I was probably both moms and I think the lazy one as well…I know at different times I went through that extremely tired stage…overwhelmingly tired…couldnt figure it out…my mind would say one thing and my body another…I raised my kids in fear ..my mother was that kind of person…she taught me well. I was afraid that bad things would happen to my kids so I became over protective and in their face over time when they grew up..when they were little I had control…but as they get older you have to relinquish some of that control to them ..its very important to talk a lot..say the things on your mind from the get go..and hope they stick..even if later your kids dont agree ..they will see the benefit of the important things you taught them..its so important to teach your children correct principles…because when they grow up and experience life those principles will come into their minds..I went through 3 episodes of major depression and anxiety disorder..it ran in my family..my mother had it and my daughter did and one of my sons has it. It isnt pleasant and i got through the first two times taking no meds but going to counceling which helped tremendously if I had a good dr…over time it goes away…the last time I was on medication due to a historectomy…the estrogen they gave me premarin ..caused an allergic reaction…and so I was put on an antidepressant due to my past history and drs thought it was depression and it wasnt..it was the allergy to the premarin ..they could have tried another estrogen for me..they didnt..I went to see another dr and she did a test and found I was allergic to premarin and put me on a different estrogen that did work fine..no allergies to it…but I was on descepramine and took it for years until I was told to get off because it was nothing more than a pain killer and when i tried half way off I had a seizure..everytime after that I had a seizure when trying to get off..so now im on keppra a seizure drug but no longer on that particular antidepressant…anyway I went through depression in my early 40′s…while on meds…so I realized it didnt prevent one…so Im off it now…but on the keppra…I was intense about some things because I felt my calling here on this earth was to be a mother..and it was my responsibilty..but I was the oldest in my family and i am a woman so I was used to taking care of children…I knew a lot about children..so it was actually easy for me ..I didnt have that challenge..my problem was more with my husband….he has a very very difficult personality to deal with and even to this day we are married but we dont get along still. I dont believe in divorse…so I stuck it out …its not until now I realize where he gets it from…its from his mother..she is in an assited living home now and I have lived next to her for 4 yrs and she is the exact same way…I know God had a hand in our living next to her..so my husband could see himself through her..he would appologize about his actions on occasion as he saw himself when being with her…but he still acts the way he does..more sensitive then most women…and not soppy…very hard to deal with..tough…some women are finicky…well, he is but in a manly way…after awhile I saw my life being very difficult and not knowing how to deal with it…I loved the man I married..so I spent years on the couch of one shrink or another spewing my ills of not being happy and not knowing what to do..but just the getting it off my chest helped me so much…also Im not independent type of person..Im codependent…I wait on him…even though he thinks i control things…I became afraid for him to manage money..we have different ideas on that..Im a tight wad and he loves to spend…and we suffered a lot because of it..over time that was my first depression..and when I tried to discuss it with him..he didnt want to hear it..his mom the same way…I dont want to talk about it…so I spoke to shrinks instead…as of late i take care of the money and we have a savings…but that leaves my husband feeling like Im a witch..or a control freak always looking over his shoulder….i feel insecure about him handling money..he does a good job with other peoples money in business but not at home…the kids are gone and I have to deal with it still….he wants to have things all his way and if its not that way he gets upset very easily…i try to play it off..and try to help him see things differently and he doesnt like it …I do that so he wont get so angry all the time….he has a serious anger problem…I think its not just a being a mother problem…there is usually more…and some mothers feel they have more to do then be a mother…or their lives will be over by the time their kids grow up..so they have regrets…I never had that problem…stress precedes all depression…any kind…so its best to find out where this stress is coming from and its from unresolved stress…or feeling there is no way out…

    • vickie

      one more thing…my kids did turn out to be wonderful people..my daughter went to school for 11 yrs then had 3 wonderful children..she married a doctor..that is why she could go to school for 11 yrs haha..and then my oldest son is a west point grad who is now working at the pentagon in dc and has a lovely wife and 5 kids and then my next son is out of the airforce and is a fed agent and in the air national guard..and has a lovely wife and one son and then my next son was a missionary for awhile in cambodia and then came home got married and went to school for gosh 10yrs and is a doctor and then my last son was a missionary in england for 2 yrs and came home and went to college and is working in business..he isnt maried yet…but ..not that my kids didnt go t hrough their own stresses in life..but they are such great people..i thought I wasnt a good mother and that I coudl have done more..read to them and played more games with them…I was too busy cleaning house and cooking and doing whatever…the mechanical things..butt I did talk a lot..spoke about everything and wanted my kids to know that it was ok to talk about anything at all on their minds…they couldnt speak that way to their dad because he was just to sensitive..my kids were punished when they did things wrong..spanked or grounded ..whatever…but they saw the stress going on betweeen their dad and me…esp the money issues and it did affect them…they realize the worth of a dollar and the ones who arent as good with it married people who are and allow them to help them because of the struggle they saw me and their dad go through…I feel so blessed to have my kids and they are my hope and inspiration…

  14. Karee

    I am a parent of 3 boys. I’ve suffered with depression my entire life – even before I had kids – but I still chose to have them. Nobody in this life can measure up to a perfect parent. I survived the before 5 age and I would gladly do it again. I had a great time even though it was really difficult for me. Were there things I would have done differently? Yes. However, I believe this life is a learning experience for me and for my children. I’m doing the best I can and I encourage my children to do the same, too. I think a big majority of the problems with parenting comes with expecting perfection out of yourself and your children. Don’t misunderstand me. I think we all have great potential to do great things. I’m just saying life is a learning experience. Let’s just be a little kinder with ourselves and each other.

  15. vickie

    the derpession in my family is hereditary..my mother had it and I had it and my sister etc..my daughter..well, the difference is this..when my mother had major depression she put herself in the hospital…when I had it..I saw a councelor and used talk therapy..my sister did also..she took meds..then later I was on meds for another reason..then my daughter got it and tried talk therapy from a dr who was worse off then she was…but..the difference was she went to college for 11 yrs and her education helped her a great deal. she has 3 kids and went through depression before having kids..so if it runs in the family…hereditary…stress brings it out…changes in life..of any kind…whether its moving or having kids or raising kids or any other kind of thing..harmones change and chemicals in teh body due to the stress..even if you dont realize it…we have to trust in God ..he is the best councelor ..because even when drs didnt understand things for me..God helped me get through it…in my mind..I thought…with this kind of illness and the others i have a seizure disorder and barretts esophagus etc..ibs…all sorts of things..tumors all over my body…anxiety disorder..ITS AS IF GOD IS KEEPING ME CLOSE TO HIM…when we are sick like this…where else are you going to go…you must depend on God ..even praying for your drs to get it right in helping you because they are human as well and fallible…and even the drs have their agencies…so mistakes are made and we have to get through that…if we survive it..we grow stronger from it..we are not alone when raising our kids..we are partners with God because they are His children…

  16. Self help for depression

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  17. Susan

    I have 7 children ages 11-25. I would often muse on why I was so ovewhelmed, so exhausted, do discouraged. It finally dawned on me that: “Modern family life is not how the original family systems were designed.” Form followed function – but not any more.
    For most of history, extended families have lived together. They lived in small abodes surrounded by lots of space. Mothers weren’t alone: fathers worked the fields, or worked downstairs in the shop, and at lunch time would be home with the wife and kids. Often extended family members either lived in the same household, or lived in close proximity making daily visits possible.
    For mothers, the extended family provided the necessary help and breaks any human being would need, alleviating both physical and mental stressors.
    Adults worked together to raise children and the adults were around to talk to, and to make observations. One day, I brought my children to visit my grandmother. When she saw me, she said; “You look tired. Why don’t you go lay down? Have you eaten? I’ll make you something and then go close your eyes.” Who else but a family member would be motivated to make those observations and take that kind of initiate to shore up the MOM with food and relaxation? Who else is keeping a baseline record of what you look like and sound like when you’re healthy and well-rested vs. when you’re distressed and unraveling? I’m talking about the subtle differences, because friends can recognize some things, but usually we brush offers of help away because we don’t want to impose – and besides, we think, we can pull ourselves together. This lack of daily intimacy with extended family allows physical and mental erosion to progress unnoticed until the mother is in full blown distress.
    There’s more – Over-adaptation leads to incapacitation. So we overadapt to our modern situation alone in our homes with our appliances that have given the message to mothers: You don’t need a mother’s helper because you have a dishwasher, and iron, a vaccuum, a car to do your own shopping, a phone to make all your own appointments and arrangements. But while the tools have gown in number, our brains have not necessarily evolved to mentally and emotionally handle all that these tools require.
    My grandmother used to tell me about the days when she was growing up in Chicago. The gypsy wagon would come through the alley every day selling fresh vegetables and fruit. Look at the problems that solved. The mother didn’t have to remember to buy the food – it came to her. The mother didn’t have to load up the kids in the car, dress them for the weather, buckle them into carseats, make sure the diaper bad had diapers, find a babysitter for the children she wasn’t taking with her…etc.
    From my own days, the milkman brought the milk. My mother didn’t even have to change out of her robe. And we saw my grandparents nearly everyday, so when my parents wanted to go out, there was an array of built in babysitters – aunts, cousins, etc. Many people used to send their laundry out, and aside from cloth diapers, most people have far fewer clothes.
    So in many ways, life was simpler with many more invested people in close proximity, and with a lower expectation of what any one woman was expected to do. (There was even a movie in the 30′s about a man who felt guilty because his wife was stuck at home with a baby and he couldn’t afford to get her help – and she was overwhelmed.) My grandmother used to remind me that when she had her two children she spent 10 days in the hospital – and she had normal births!
    So it became easier to understand that I was stressed, because the system had changed in ways that are detrimental to natural mothering. We are more isolated than ever and much food preparation used to be accompanied by discussion with other adults. People would peel the potatoes and talk, quilt and talk, etc. Until extended families, or maybe close friends are more involved in each other’s lives, mothers will continue to be distressed.

    • Kati Blackledge

      OMG,Susan, you brought me to tears. I am an only child of parents who adopted me whey they were 50(mom)and 44(dad). I grew up alone, and hated it, and now that my mom and all other relatives are dead, (the exception is my 91 year old dad who I am living with and caring for) I am more alone than ever. I struggle everyday as my kids are up in their room, hubby is at work, and my dad is sitting there watching tv that is constantly changing channels. I use FB to connect to friends, but they can’t see me, and they don’t know when I am frazzled unless I tell them, and they can’t always come and talk, or help me. It’s no wonder I feel the way I do. Thank you for clarifying in my mind yet another reason we should all have more family around. May I quote you on my FB page? I really think what you say here is important.

    • vickie

      wow that was an excelent comment and how true it is…I was married in 1969 at the age of 18yrs..my husband was 22…back then people did get married earlier…then as time went on it became later and later until one day women were finally getting married around 40 and having kids after that…I do remember my mothers time where women were learning to drive and some working but most stayed home and minded the kids and house..and they met in coffee clutches every day after they finished their house work..to them that was a treat…in our house we didnt live near relatives because my dad was military and then decided to retire in texas intead of where he was from louisiana…so my mom made long lasting freinds..I learned that myself..well, by the time i got married lots of girls were going to college and expecting to work…there were times when I was just turning 30 and had 4 kids …I was asked to watch the neighborhood street ..because I was the only mom staying home…everyone left the street..by then in 1982…most women were working because they had to..and by then their husbands expected them to..so the kids were out..babysat etc..over time I worked off and on but not all the time..I could see that when I did it didnt do my family any better..we just spent more money..so I decided that even now..with no kids at home..mom is best at home..we dont need as much as we think we do..having all those bills is putting pressure on the moms of today…same as the usa budget..how much in debt is the country and the people…same same…my husband was airforce and we traveled all over and my poor kids dont have a hometown…we were raised around killeen fort hood texas and we surely dont want to go back there and live…so where is home for us…that is what is wrong with america…we are derpessed because of lack of communication with friends and family…esp those who are military…believe me I know..that was my life from birth onward..my father and then my husband..I just learned to make friends and then my chruch helped me tremendously…my kids live all over the world and when they come to see me I dont want to be used as a baby sitter..Im old..Im tired and ill most of the time..i just want to enjoy seeing the kids and hug and squeeze them..I did babysit them at times and for long periods..it was hard but I was younger then…I had no help ever..my mother refused to come help me at all so all my kids I had alone..and it wasnt easy..I had no medicine to have them.it was during that time that drs thought it best to use no medicine to deliver babies..so I had to tuff it out..and had to be cut every time..my first broke my tailbone and I was cut from stem to stern and have not recovered from that to this day..I had to go home and rest for one day and then up again cleaning and taking care of the other kids…no wonder Im a mess now…when I had my hysterectomy and thought I was gong to die later..because I was allergic to the estrogen premarin…I begged my mother to please come help me and she said NO..she had to take care of my dad..there was nothing wrong with him…I said both can come…but she said no…I never depended on my parents ….ever..I was alone and had to realize that…my sister and I would talk..but she was many times in a severe situation herself…my 3rd sister had breast cancer..and did my mother go…NO…so it might depend on the family situation…

  18. vickie

    cont: my parents by the way are still alive..and well…my father 88 and my mother 79…you know what they say right…the good die young hahaha..and they are still here …well my parents take care of each other and my two brothers help them out..my mom is still kicking and I mean that…she kick boxes…tough people..it would have been nice to have a more compassionate family relationship..but I had to realize that this is the way they were..I was angry most of my life over never having any help..and being in the military …but I also realized that even if I lived home my mother wouldnt help still..it was the way she was…I couldnt borrow money either ..we did one time and never heard the end of it..it was a mere 200 dollars and we were starving and having a tuff time in the 70′s with jobs and finally when my husband joined the military I paid them off while he was in guam during veitnam…sometimes life is tuff and if you survive it..you come out stronger..I use to play my finger fiddle and say oh pitty me..and believe me I went throug major depression 3 times alone..no meds the 1st 2 times as I stated earlier..and back then..there was a stigma..you were nuts if you were depressed..now they realize that its a mood disorder..genetic..not something you caused yourself totally…and then circumstances in life as they are as mine were no help ever..well, imagine that…but here I am..still here and still fighting..it seems that in my life I am fighting one thing or another and I even wrote a poem about it…fighting things I cannot see and all I seek is just a little peace…well, I think God intended that for me to be after this life..I pray for those who are suffering that they may overcome..just keep up the good fight…God bless

  19. Pamela Smith

    Women who are active in their churches benefit from the built-in friendships that are there. For others, have you heard of Newcomers.com? The Newcomers Club has been around for a couple decades, and is active is many cities. If you have moved to a new area and feel alone, contact them!

  20. gratefulmouse

    I have a history of major depression and anxiety disorder..they came together..being a mother is demanding and I had my kids far apart and so I had infant and high school…and inbetween…i wanted a clean house ..almost a mommie dearest..but I did the work along with my kids and went behind them doing their part if it wasnt good….picky vickie…one of my nicknames..I decided to not take medicine for my 1st two episodes of major depression and believe me it takes one out…functioning is very hard but I had to force myself to do what I needed to do and pretend I wasnt depressed..my husband wasnt supportive because he thought I was depressed because I chose to be that way…it is hard when no one knows anything…I had to wing it..I went to see therapists in the military and its different then going to a civilian therapist..and you have to be careful with them as well..I was given a wrong diagnosis and it scared me so bad that I went further down and thank goodness for another dr who saw me awhile and my husband told him my fear and he reassured me that wasnt my diagnosis..and also way back then depression or any kind of emotional disorder put a mark on you …no one knows how painful this is..I was raising 5 kids during this and made it through pretending I wasnt depressed but it was seen by other adults because of my weight loss and the muscles in my body not working…also the anxiety disorder showing as my fear…over time more knowledge helped …we need more knowledge and more research so that depression and axiety can be eliminated…

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