I think that people underestimate the stresses of parenting, particularly when children are very young and before they enter school.
When kids are little, parents are scrambling to keep their heads above water and often baffled when they feel depression or anxiety for the first time in their lives, or their previously successful marriage now feels in shambles. On top of all this, they are told that they “should” be so thankful to have a family, thus adding guilt to their distress. It can feel shameful to acknowledge that these beautiful little humans are causing so much stress.
All of this is completely normal and expected if you are parenting a small child (or multiple children).
It is important to acknowledge how stressful it is and realize why it’s so hard. We are putting another being’s needs before our own 24/7, trying to make a living, role modeling good behavior, and getting our own needs met (or trying to). Even though it’s not the child’s fault, parents need some validation to cope and some support! This can come from friendships of other parents, parent “groups”, reading parenting books, and therapy.
Therapy can provide a safe place to “let it all out,” skills to help manage stress, and parenting skills to make it more manageable. Additionally, it can help marriages that are struggling from parenting stress.
Parents will always be stronger role models for their children when they are taking care of their own psychological and physical needs.