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2018 APS Congress

The 2018 APS Congress will be held in Sydney from Thursday 27 to Sunday 30 September 2018

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Parents and parenting

Parents play an essential role in raising children by providing environments and relationships that enable health and development to occur.

Parents make decisions about what’s right for their children and families based on their unique values, circumstances and lifestyles.

Parents do not parent in a vacuum, broader social policies and attitudes impact directly on a parent’s ability to make choices that are in the best interests of their children and family.

Accurate information about child health and development, constructive policies and having the support of family and community helps parents make better decisions about their children. There are many ways to be a good parent.

Key points

  • Being a parent can bring immense joy and fulfilment, but the transition to parenthood and parenting itself can be one of the most stressful stages of life.
  • Many parents find the ongoing demands of daily life to be stressful, including balancing work and family demands or relationship and financial pressures.
  • Any significant changes within a family, such as a new child or a house move, can have the potential to create stress (as well as build resilience). The loss of a job or end of a relationship can be particularly stressful for families.
  • Many factors influence our experience as a parent. This can include the availability, affordability and quality of childcare, the type of communities we live in and the flexibility and conditions we have in the workplace (such as access to parental leave, flexible work hours and permanent work).
  • Living in poverty can leave adults too stressed to parent well. Single parents in particular face the challenges of parenting alone, along with less financial stability, less social support and often more stigma and judgement.
  • Discrimination remains an issue for same-sex parents. Yet research shows it is the quality of parenting relationships and not the family structure that matters most for children
  • Grandparents increasingly take responsibility for the care of their grandchildren through formal and informal arrangements, which can make relationships more complex.

Seeking help

If you feel that the stress and anxiety associated with parenting is affecting your ability to enjoy life, a psychologist may be able to help. Psychologists are highly trained and qualified professionals, skilled in providing effective interventions for a range of mental health concerns. A psychologist can help you to identify and address factors that might be contributing to your stress.

A psychologist can also advise you about other resources to help you feel more in control, such as support groups, books and courses.

If you are referred to a psychologist by your GP, you might be eligible for a Medicare rebate. Ask your psychologist or GP for details.

There are number of ways to access a psychologist. You can:

  • use the Australia-wide Find A PsychologistTM directory or call 1800 333 497
  • ask your GP or another health professional to refer you.