Inspiring parents in our community: Bridget Derkash
Today we are talking to Bridget Derkash, a counselor for the Hope Center at Glenwood Springs Elementary School and a mom who grew up in the valley. We hope you enjoy this conversation and learn from her wisdom.
First of all, can you introduce yourself to everyone?
My name is Bridget Derkash. I am a mom of three. I was born and raised in Glenwood Springs. And I am also a therapist.
You are a therapist at Glenwood Springs Elementary School now, how did you end up there?
I definitely took an alternative route to be a therapist. I first started doing nonprofit work and fundraising then went back to school for a degree in international disaster therapy. I was planning to work abroad in disaster zones. The therapy focused on trauma and international work.
That sounds incredible but different from your work now. What changed your path?
I realized I wanted a family! And I wanted to raise my family by my family. At first I was working with the Kemp Center, which is a front range organization that focuses on young children affected by abuse and neglect. I did a lot of focused work on parenting and prevention around child abuse and neglect.
But by then I had a brand new baby and was in charge of multiple Colorado counties so it was then we decided to move back to Glenwood Springs.
That sounds like a lot; how were you able to balance motherhood and childcare?
Balance is an ongoing process. Childcare is a huge struggle. I am trying to make choices to put my kids first. I love doing trauma work but now I am taking a step back while my kids are little. Working with the Hope Center allows a little more balance at this stage.
I would love to do more education work. I recommend a lot of parents towards the Seedlings program which really helps provide parents with tools so they can make their own choices
I also am trying to find balance by making time for my husband and building more community in the area. Also my cousin made us join the women’s triathlon team. I love that outlet since it’s physical and social.
Switching gears, we would love to hear some professional advice. Wearing your therapist hat, what is your parenting advice for everyone?
Three main things come to mind:
1. Every kid is completely different so parenting each kid looks different. You somewhat need to be a detective about a child’s behavior. I think a huge parenting advice point is that having a community to talk to and help problem-solve our questions about our children is vital. We should all have a safe outlet to talk to other adults to help ourselves realize how to help our kids.
2. We need to connect and believe our children’s pain and experiences. We need to be able to listen and validate our children’s feelings so that they know they can trust us. Kids sometimes can’t narrate their experience but we can help them do that so that they can come to a better understanding of themselves.
Remember that secrecy creates shame which can create long term trauma. We need to be able to connect even if we are the ones they are upset at. That allows them to reset their brains so they can work through a tough situation.
3. You have to be able to regulate yourself before you can regulate your child. This is so essential.
Oh my gosh, that is all amazing. Would you say anything differently to your mom friends?
I would say that it is not selfish to take care of yourself. Parenting is really hard. So if you need to go for a run, go for a run. If you need a nap, go do that. Sometimes you need to shut down and that is okay.
We also do a lot of “redos” in our family. I say “can we just redo this?” if a situation is difficult at home. It can shift a whole day. It allows more flexibility in the outcome of the day.
Is that how parenting has challenged you? Not having that flexibility?
Somewhat, I love being a mom but the best advice I got is “there is never a new normal” and I try to live by that because I am very type A and I love routine. So learning how to be flexible and change expectations have been huge.
It can be more emotionally reactive than I thought. You can feel very criticized if I don’t know what to do when I parent. I love talking through situations with my sister and she can really help me realize that it is okay to not know everything.
I think, overall, the hardest part is learning how to meet all my individual children’s needs while checking my own emotions about parenting.
To not be judged is so powerful and so helpful. I would say be okay with not knowing.