How to Talk to a Mom that is Struggling

I hear this all too often.  A struggling mother will say that she feels misunderstood or that she's failing.  A partner, family member, or friend says the wrong thing with the best intentions or is unsure of what to say at all.  Do you want to know how to support a struggling mom?

 Check out this video to hear my take on it.  (Audio transcript is below.)

I've been getting a lot of the same question over and over again, this week especially.  So, I was kind of inspired to do a quick video.  I'm Catherine O'Brien, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist at HappyWithBaby.com. 

The question or the concern I've been getting from more moms recently it seems like is that they're struggling.  Maybe they have problems from depression, or maybe anxiety, or some other kind of postpartum mood or anxiety disorder and they feel like, everybody tells them that if they just thought good thoughts, or if they just acknowledged that they have a beautiful baby, then they'd feel better.  

But the thing is, they know they can do those things and they've tried those things.  And they know they have a wonderful, beautiful child, but it's not that easy. 

It's not that easy for them to just will it away, which it feels like if they're told things like that.  

So, to help those of us who want to support the struggling moms in our lives,  I put together these three quick tips of things that you can say.  Because I know as always the intentions are really good.  You want them to feel better and sometimes we don't know what to say, we don't know what to do.  

Here's what you CAN do to help:

#1. Just acknowledge that it is hard for them.  They are struggling.  And let them know that just  because they're struggling, that does not make them a bad mom.  Because that is ultimately a huge fear that they have, that somehow they're failing as a mom.  So, just acknowledge it is hard. It's hard for a lot of people, most people. 

#2. Let them know that you're here for them.  Whether you're there physically at the house with them, or maybe you check in and you give them a call or you text them.  Even if you don't get a response every time.  Just keep letting them know, "Hey, I'm thinking about you. I'm here for you."  

#3.  Just let them know that you love them.  Remind them that they are a good person and that things will get better.  And that if they need any support, anything, of course you're there. 

If you'd like some resources for further (quick!) reading, here's what I recommend on this topic:

 The Postpartum Husband:  Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression by Karen R. Kleiman (Check out Chapter 19 in particular for more of What To Say to a Mom who is Struggling)

Beyond the Blues: Understanding and Treating Prenatal and Postpartum Depression & Anxiety  by Shoshana Bennett (Check out Chapter 4 for more things to keep in mind and to say.)

I hope this was helpful.  If you have more questions or you have a loved one that you care about that's really struggling and you're not sure where to look to get support, don't hesitate to give me a call at 916-718-1501 in Sacramento or check out my upcoming classes. And if you're not in Sacramento, I'd be happy to help you locate resources.