As a couples therapist, I’ve seen first hand how becoming a parent can be one of the most rewarding experiences a person can go through in their lifetime. If you’ve longed to have kids, once they arrive, your whole life can change. Most couples adapt to their kids very easily, and have no problems essentially giving their lives and their full attention up to that child. However, some people struggle with the realization that after having a child, it’s very easy to lose your sense of individuality. You’re forever known as a ‘parent;’ a mother or father, instead of who you ‘used’ to be, and for some people, that can be an overwhelming thought.
When you turn over your life to give it entirely to your child, it’s easy to feel like you’ve lost a sense of self, or who you were at one point. And while you are a different person after having a baby, it doesn’t have to mean you’ve lost everything about yourself that made you feel whole. Let’s take a look at a few ideas on how to maintain your individuality after becoming a parent.
Have A Sense Of Perspective
As a new parent, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. After all, a child needs your attention almost constantly, even in the middle of the night. Be aware that it won’t always be that way, and as your child continues to grow, they will always need you, but it will be in different ways.
Get Back To ‘Normal’
The truth is, you’re not going to be able to do everything you did before you had a child the same way, at the same times, etc., because you have to adjust your schedule. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get back to some of the more normal things you used to love to do. Finding time to do things for yourself that you enjoyed before having a baby is a great way to feel like yourself again, even if you’re only able to do it once or twice a week. Get back into hobbies you once enjoyed, and re-find your sense of ‘normalcy.’
A great way to assure yourself you’re not the only one who feels this way, and for even more suggestions as to how to maintain your individuality and identity, try to get involved with others who have gone through the same thing. There are plenty of parent support groups all over, it just takes a little research to find one that might be near you. Or, if you find yourself really struggling with your identity, it’s never a bad idea to seek out the help of a coach or therapist – someone who will listen, and be able to give you unbiased advice. Your ‘old’ self doesn’t just disappear after you have a child, but if you’re having a difficult time discovering your individuality after a baby, know that you’re not alone, and there are always ways to combat it and become your own person once again!
Donna Shanahan, LMFT
Couples Therapy in Pasadena, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
I work with individuals, couples and families in short and long-term psychotherapy. I was fortunate in my early training to be introduced to psychoanalytic psychotherapy which inspired me to further my understanding of the powerful effects of the unconscious and how it effects both the body and mind. In addition to my formal education, I have certificates in psychoanalytic psychotherapy from the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute and the Psychoanalytic Center of California.