Anxious? Worried? Nervous? You will be!
I haven’t always been this laid-back, easy-going and cool as a parent, I don’t want you to think I just landed here like this. It’s taken a lot of sheer effort, determination and hard work to reach this place of carelessness. Sorry, confidence.I started out, just like every other parent, overwhelmed with the sudden massive responsibility of keeping another human being alive, and by nature I worried endlessly. Worrying about our kids and being anxious about getting it right is probably an intrinsic part of being a parent, but I think there are certain factors that make it more difficult for parents to conquer their anxiety and chill out a bit. Here’s a random list of nine things off the top of my head:
- Worrying is confused with care. The anxious parent is seen as caring, concerned and involved. You’re supposed to endlessly worry about your child to prove how much you love them.
- We are encouraged to think that our children’s negative feelings are presenting problems, behind which there is something much deeper which we have to uncover. You thought it was only that bad? Well…
- We know too much. We know about lots of illnesses and we know a bit about psychology. We know words like adjustment and attachment and concepts like low self-esteem and separation anxiety and behavioural and emotional difficulties. We never used to know about those things.
- The media. Oh how the media loves to scare us parents! And now it’s GLOBAL MEDIA.
- Freud. We have to prevent all these bad things happening because if we don’t it’s all our fault. All the bad stuff. It is our responsibility to put everything right. Otherwise IT’S ALL OUR FAULT. Thought I’d emphasise that.
- Competitive parenting. Faced with the example of that anxious pushy parent over there, am I letting my child down whenever I say ‘Don’t worry if your homework’s not perfect’?
- Choice and opportunity. There are just so many ways our children can be seen as failures now! And us parents. Should I enrol my child in just one more club? She doesn’t play an instrument!
- Parental responsibility. We are now expected to be responsible for creating our children’s self-esteem, building their confidence, developing their social skills and shaping their futures. Just feeding and sheltering them used to be enough.
- Movies. All those movies for kids where there’s a parent (usually a mother) apologising to their child and begging forgiveness for ‘not being there for you.’ When my kids were little it seemed that every film I watched contained one of those.
So I hope that’s helped, having all these factors that make us anxious summed up in one handy place. Do feel free to print out and perform a ceremonial burning. And then chill out.
Very interesting post Stephanie. There is lots of pressure to do everything and be everyone to our kids, but ultimately the biggest pressure we face is the kind we heap upon our own shoulders…
Reading this is a breath of fresh air.
Given that mostly our model for parenthood is the way we were parented, imagine what the next generation is going to be like. Even MORE anxious, competitive, self-blaming than us!