Australian Association of Psychologists Inc

Australian Association of Psychologists Inc

By Jane Dodding, Psychologist and Director of Minds Plus Psychology


As parents we want the best for our kids and we do everything we can to support and care for them.  We focus our attention on fulfilling their needs, being the best parent, getting them professional support if needed, whilst often neglecting our own self-care.  This is admirable, selfless, and a part of being a parent at times, but does it contribute to the best for our kids?

Why, if there is an emergency on a plane, are we directed to put on our mask first?

Ultimately, we are not able to help, support, and care for others if we are not okay.  It is important to care and invest in ourselves, to be our best, for us and our children.

Our kids learn from us – our values, thoughts, emotions, how we react in certain situations, manage demands, behave, how we perceive the world etc.

We all have unconscious patterns, many that have been passed down through generations.  Some of these ways of being are helpful, and others are not.  By working on our own personal development, exploring family traits, our tendencies and our world view, we have an opportunity to enhance our conscious parenting, pass forward our best selves, and the lessons we have learnt.  In addition, you will role model that it is important to care for yourself too, so your kids also learn to care for themselves.

A good place to start is by dedicating some time to reflect on your values; what is important to you, what do you stand for, and how do you want to be as a parent?  You can also do this with other aspects of your life, such as a partner, family member, work colleague, your health etc.  If you struggle naming your values, you may want to imagine you are at your 80th birthday party and your children are making a speech about you – what do you WANT them to say (not what you think they will say)?  You can do this with others in your life too, your partner, family, co-workers etc.  Notice what you want them to say e.g. funny, kind, loyal, reliable, patient, good listener, others?

These values provide your moral compass to guide your behaviours, goals and decisions, and you can consider how closely you are living by these values.  Which are you satisfied with?  Are there any areas you want to strengthen?  What are the barriers to achieving this, and how can they be overcome?

We’re all doing the best we can with what we know at the time, and parenting is a busy demanding time, requiring many regular adjustments and loads of emotional intelligence to manage. Being human, we will make mistakes and not get it right all the time, but we can strive to be our best and keep learning.   Attending to our own personal growth and struggles helps us to enhance our skills, uncover and reframe our unhelpful thoughts and family patterns. Given all the demands, you are probably wondering how you can prioritise and invest in yourself in your busy schedule when you can barely find time for a shower or even finish a thought at times.

Telehealth (consultations by video or phone) makes it a lot easier to conveniently get professional guidance and support, from the comfort and privacy of your own home, or car, or office, or anywhere that you feel safe to dedicate some quiet time just for you.

If you are struggling, or want to work on your personal development, AAPi has a Find a Psychologist section where you can search for telehealth practitioners in your area or anywhere.


About Jane

Jane has considerable telehealth experience consulting by telephone and video for over a decade. She is a warm, compassionate, and supportive psychologist who works with adults and teenagers with an emphasis on practical strategies to elicit positive changes.

Jane uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Positive Psychology to assist people to flourish and achieve their full potential.

She is an experienced practitioner and works with people across a range of issues including personal coaching, anxiety, depression, stress management, grief/loss, adjustment issues, chronic pain, and relationship issues.