Parents Worry About Their Children
My anxiety shot through the roof when I became a parent. Everything seemed a little more important. I had a huge responsibility to keep this other human being safe and happy. Not just responsibility, but a strong desire to give him the world and never let him suffer.
It took time for me to realize that my son was on his own path in life, that he had to have some hard experiences and learn how to handle them. It wasn't my job to protect him from everything, it was my job to help him build skills to overcome, avoid, and/or get through hard things. (Dory from Finding Nemo helped me. She said: "What do you mean you don't want anything to happen to him? Then nothing will happen to him!")
If I saved him from everything hard, how would he handle things in the future when I am not around to protect him? If I saved him from anything risky, he would have no adventures in life!
Parent Worries: Effects on Kids
I deal with parent worries all the time in my practice. And I have noticed how, while having a basic understanding that their parents worry because they love them (once I point this out), often these worries are misconstrued by kids. They often feel mistrusted, pressured by high expectations, and worried that they have disappointed their parents.
I learned early on that intense worry for my son risks burdening him. When he is already worried, my worry validates his worry, intensifying it. He feels confirmed that he is "right" to be worried. It may affect his confidence making him less able to take steps to change his situation. It might unmotivated him to overcome his own worry. And then, he might worry about me–judging himself for upsetting me, or needing me. All of these scenarios are undesirable.
Believe in Your Children
What if I believed in him instead? What if when he was going through a hard time, I held him and acknowledged his struggles, then reminded him of the skills I knew he had to overcome it. What if I held on to that confidence in him, until he took it on himself?
Parent's confidence in their children is one of the best gifts that we could give them. Children have loads of anxieties and having confidence in them is the best way to help them through. It works better than any other therapeutic method I have tried. It also makes you as a parent feel better. Win-win!
By Jodi Lobozzo Aman
I blog here: Heal Now and Forever Be In Peace
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Lobozzo, J. (2012, August 22). Parents Worry About Their Children, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/08/parents-worry-about-their-children
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
Thank you so much for writing, Jodi. It's my 11-year-old - I worry about him all the time. This helps so much. Thank you again.
Thank you for reading and commenting. Jodi is no longer writing for HealthyPlace, so she is unable to respond to comments. I have a feeling that she'll be very pleased to know that her article was helpful. As one on the current writers, I'm pleased, too. :)
Wow I readlly needed that! I feel constantly worried about my older son (10) even though he gets on great most of the time. Any little slight or problem he experiences I feel it ten fold and show it!! I sometimes feel we worry about the oldest most of all.
I am glad to put it in perspective a bit. Let me know if you feel more relaxed after letting it sink in!
[...] Refusals and desparation spells anxiety to me. I have been there and I don’t want to see them suffer. [...]
I always believe in my children, and trust them and their ability to do things or cope with situations. Even when I am worried, I try to hide it from them. I show them that I believe in them but without ignoring their fears. I think that even if their worries seem irrelevant to me, they have reasons to be scared. I accept their fears whatever they are because if I don't, they might feel guilty and won't share their fears in the future.
What a gift you are giving them!
What a fabulous perspective, I love it!! I will keep this with me & make it part of what I do and how I think when I feel myself worried about someone, I will turn it round and just love them! So simple but powerful stuff!! :0)
Thanks Maureen! I am so glad you found nugget of power for yourself!
As a child I'd watch my mother’s occasional near terror when her children were playing outside. Every screech of a car’s tires was incentive enough for her to rush to the window to peer between the drapes.
I think as parents we often need to just accept that yes, the world will get on without us. Our children will survive childhood with a modicum of intervention on our parts.
We did it, didn’t we? If not we wouldn’t be in the parenting business today.
Knowing when to intervene though, is the question. There are two extremes here at play. A parent can certainly be too stand offish, too uninvolved, too likely to let kids basically raise themselves.
But we also know people who try to control every second of their children’s lives. You want to rush over and shake the parents by the shoulders, shout in their faces:
“Will you please leave the children alone.”
They’re kids. They’re going to fall and crack their heads. And be up playing again by the time your rush back with iodine and bandages.
They’re kids. They’re going to punch someone at school or get punched.
They’re going to do a bunch of damn stupid things that we as parents will simply shake our heads at in disbelief. Why? Because they’re kids.
Thanks Adam, awesome perspective. People learn much more when they are allowed to make mistakes. And most of the time mistakes don't kill us. They make us stronger.
Thank you Sarah!
I hope they receive it well!
What a lovely way to start my day! I've favourited this article and will subtly try to share it with my parents ... ;) Thanks for the words of wisdom.