Where am I? What happened to me? Re-Discovering Your Identity After Becoming a Parent

The dictionary defines identity as “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another”

Often times, people describe feeling like they have lost a bit (or a lot) of their identity as they become parents.    Some people may feel fine with this shift and others find it distressing.

I’ve heard this loss of identity presented as a concern from many women that I have encountered inside and outside of the therapy office. After their children are born, some women report that they don’t feel like themselves and struggle to find a sense of who they are outside of being a mother. Some mothers also report that they struggle in figuring out how to make time for the things that they love outside of their families because they are focused on their children and feel guilty if they shift their focus elsewhere for even brief periods of time.   These types of concerns have been shared from parents across the board including; expectant parents,  parents of infants, parents of school age children and parents of teens.

As a mother and a therapist who has worked with many parents over the years, I can assure you that you are not alone if you feel like you have lost your sense of identity after becoming a parent.  Raising children takes a lot of time and energy, so it makes sense why we may lose track of ourselves in the parenting journey.  You are also not alone if you feel concerned about this and you want to work on trying to re-discover your identity.

If re-discovery is something that you are interested in exploring, I’d propose considering the following process.  Unfortunately this process is not a quick fix, but with reflection, I think that you may find your way back to feeling comfortable and at ease with your identity.

Process, accept and acknowledge your feelings about your identity. Explore how you define your identity today vs. before children.  Consider the roles that you have.

  • Reflect on key parts of your identity.  Ask yourself “Who am I?”
  • Consider what factors may have contributed to how you currently define your identity and how you feel about this identity?
  • Work on challenging any feelings of guilt you may have.  As I have mentioned before, many parents have described experiencing similar thoughts and feelings about their identity.  I find that feelings of guilt can be especially difficult to work through for some individuals and if that is the case for you, it may be a theme to explore further on your own or with the help of a therapist.
  • Remind yourself that continuing to pursue your interests and passions in some capacity is part of good self care which is a requirement for being a good parent.   We cannot be our best selves with our children if we feel drained and depleted.  Consider in what capacity you may want to focus on pursuing your interests and passions.  You may find it helpful to read the blog series focused on self care.

After you have processed your feelings as described above, consider whether or not there are changes you’d like to see.   If you would like to make changes, make a plan for implementation.

  • Be purposeful, yet flexible.
  • Schedule time to implement the changes you’d like to see.
  • Ask for support and share your process with your loved ones.
  • Try to be open to the possibility that your sense of identity and connection to it may be continually evolving.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about whether or not your identity changed after being a parent.  If you experienced changes in how you viewed your identity, I am also curious about how you became comfortable with the changes you experienced?  Please feel free to leave a comment below with your reflections.

If you are a parent in the Eagan, Minnesota area who is struggling with your sense of identity, please feel free to contact me to discuss how I may be of support.  More information about my services can be found on the Counseling for Parents page.


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