Mama, Do You Need Therapy?

There I was, earbuds in, bopping along down the greenbelt while listening to one of my favorite podcasts (Ask Lisa), when I heard a statement that stopped me in my tracks. Quoting research from Dr. Suniya Luthar, the author stated that “the number one intervention for any child in distress is to make sure the primary caregiver’s well-being is intact.”

Okay hold up. Here’s what the author did NOT say.

She did not say that the best intervention was to read all the best parenting books and become a master of all the latest techniques. She did not say that you should fill your child’s schedule with sports and playdates, take expensive vacations, change their diet, redecorate their room, or put notes in their lunchbox. But she did say that if you are the primary caregiver and your child is in distress, the number one way to help that child is to take care of YOUR OWN well-being. (Insert bomb explosion noise here.)

Jennifer B. Wallace, author of Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic – and What We Can Do About It, highlights a profound claim here. She prioritizes the mental health and well-being of moms, who are most often the primary caregivers. This is a message that has long been ignored. We live in a culture that has often identified motherhood as the pinnacle of sacrifice and selflessness.

Moms feel tremendous responsibility for their child’s health and well-being.

So much of our time and money is invested into making sure our kids have everything they need. We measure their vegetables and their screen time. Bedtime stories are read and homes are cleaned with chemical-free products. We rush to sports practices and schedule summer camps while there is still snow on the ground.

Moms do so much for their kids out of love, but also an undercurrent of anxiety. There is a felt pressure that our actions will have a significant impact on how their lives turn out. Our intentions are good, they really are. Seeing our kids happy and engaged in activities and friendships brings us so much joy. We want to see them succeed. We want our kids to have everything . . . even if it costs us our own sanity.

But let’s face it–this is exhausting.

Moms are tired. And there is just no guarantee that all of these things will work out the way we think they will. Sometimes, our kids struggle. Being a kid, and especially being a teen, is hard in this day and age. We are all keenly aware of the dangers of social media and bullying and social isolation and, and, and . . .

When a mom is worried about her kid for any reason, her first reaction might be to seek out a therapist for her child. This is a great step if the child is open to it and if it widens the support system for the mom. A skilled therapist can create a relationship with a child in which they feel safe and understood. A therapist can also offer insight and strategies to manage the presenting issue. It’s easy for us to conclude that if our kid is struggling with their mental health, then we need to seek out additional resources to help. So why aren’t we willing to do the same for ourselves?

I see you cringing because it requires a deeper look at your own well-being. So how are you, really?

If your kid has been struggling, I can say with a certain confidence that you are too. What’s stopping you from seeking therapy as well? The expense? The time? Yes, those are real factors. However, most insurance plans have really raised the bar on what they will cover for mental health. If you don’t use insurance, there are many therapists that have a sliding scale fee based on your income–you just need to ask.

It takes one hour a week (at most), and you could make less frequent appointments or consider telehealth to reduce travel time. You likely spend that much time doom scrolling (hi, I’m the problem, it’s me), so why not replace it with an activity that will pay dividends in improving not only your mental health but your child’s as well?

Mama, Do You Need Therapy?If therapy does not seem like an accessible option to you right now, perhaps just make sure that you have a close friend or two who can deeply listen to you. Choose someone who can spend time making sure you feel safe, heard, and validated. You know the saying, “If the plane is going down, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help your child.” The same applies here. If you think that bubble baths and manicures will help this situation, you are missing the point. It is not incumbent upon you to “self-care” your way out of this. As Dr. Suniya Luthar indicates, you need someone in your life who will put your oxygen mask on you. 

Not sure where to start?

Try a localized database search such as or or call your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.

Mama, you deserve to prioritize you. It’s time.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Boise Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

Laura Mundy
Laura Mundy of Crooked Trails Counseling is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC) who has a passion for supporting teens, young adults, and the moms who love them. Laura was a middle and high school counselor for 12 years prior to opening her own private practice. She has lived in Boise most of her life, earning diplomas from Boise High School, The College of Idaho, and Boise State University. She currently resides in the North End with her husband and two kids. She loves to mountain bike, snowboard, camp, and road trip with her fam.


  1. Wow, I sense some urgency here. This is very helpful for examining where I am as a parent and to give myself permission to seek help when needed. Very encouraging and real, thank you!!

  2. Love this! Such good advice, we are so good at taking care of others, but not always the best at taking care of ourselves.

  3. This is such a refreshing perspective from a licensed counselor who I personally know to be thoughtful and authentic. Thank you for caring about us as moms, as people, and not just as providers of care for our kids.


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