Preserving parents’ mental health for Healthy Towns

AS THE Healthy Towns initiative enters its final fortnight, parents in Kilkenny tonight have the opportunity to hear a talk on preserving their own mental health in coping with parenthood, by Dr Sarah O’Doherty.

AS THE Healthy Towns initiative enters its final fortnight, parents in Kilkenny tonight have the opportunity to hear a talk on preserving their own mental health in coping with parenthood, by Dr Sarah O’Doherty.

Dr O’Doherty is a clinical psychologist who works with the HSE, specifically in the area of child/parent psychology. The talk will be in a similar vein to what she does for a living, but it is in a different direction than her day to day work. It will focus on the parent, rather than the child.

“When a child is having a problem, the parent is inevitably stressed,” says Dr O’Doherty, who also writes as an Agony Aunt for teen magazine Kiss.

“But even just being a parent in general is a stressful experience.”

Teenagers and toddlers, as is often the case, are likely to feature prominently in discussions.

“The trick with teenagers is to let them shout it out,” says Dr O’Doherty.

“You have to be there and listen to what they are saying. But remember that you are the adult. Don’t belittle them, don’t mock them.

“They are at a stage where they are tying to push boundaries and separate a bit from their parents. That’s why they say ‘I hate you’ and so on.

“Teenagers can’t really help it. The same with toddlers. As parents, we can sometimes take that sort of behaviour personally.

Who should attend the talk? “This is not just for parents of kids under eighteen,” she says.

“You don’t stop being a parent. You always worry about your children; things such as emigration and the recession can be factors. Tonight’s event will be practical, and people will be able to get involved.

“The talk will be a bit interactive,” says Dr O’Doherty.

“People can talk about what the most common problems are, how stress changes as a child matures. It’s important to realise how a child changes, but also how you have to change.”

Dr O’Doherty will speak this evening, November 1. For more information, see www.irishtimes.com/healthytowns or call KRSP on 056-7794990.