Parenting without anxiety
Does he know all of his letters?
Does she know her letter sounds?
Does he put on his own shoes?
Can she tie hers?
Did I pack a healthy snack?
Did I remember the water?
Is she independent enough given her age?
Did I nurse them long enough?
Parenting is enough to give even the most stable adult a complex at times. The decisions are endless and there is always something to ponder at the end of the day. Even when you’re 99% certain that you got it right, there’s always that 1% lurking somewhere in the back of your mind.
Do you know what makes that 1% even worse?
The constant input from others.
Yesterday I wrote “The Great Mom Debate” in response to yet another media attempt to bring the so-called “mommy wars” back into the limelight. It feels brand-new each time such a segment airs, but the truth is that this has been going on for many years.
For one reason or another, moms are always questioning one another.
While the not-so-silent wars between us are enough to make any mom cry once in a while, it’s the end result that has me worried. With this constant cycle of questioning and criticizing, we seem to have created a culture of anxious parenting.
Parents today overthink everything from finding the perfect crib to making the perfect baby food to baby proofing every square inch of the house to only playing at the “safest” parks to raising the most well-adjusted, bully-free, intelligent, Harvard-grad-to-be ever in the history of children.
Parents scour the Internet in search of the best and most up-to-date parenting information. They seek out only the best foods, the best classes, the best clothes, and the best products for their little ones. And then they talk about all of those “bests” all of the time.
And when they hear about something new? They break out the iPhone, search out that new “best”, and order it immediately.
But products can only get you so far…
Then there are the worries about reaching milestones, obsessive comparisons to other kids the same age, and the constant “teaching” at home.
Have we all forgotten about the power of play?
All of this thinking, worrying, researching, and acquiring of perfect baby/child/teen products is exhausting! And I believe it’s contributing to increased levels of parental anxiety.
Parenting is a hard job. Period. It’s also a lot of wonderful things, and the great moments by far outweigh the hard ones. But it is a hard job.
The sad truth of it is that anxious parents raise anxious kids. Sure, anxiety has a genetic component. But there is also a huge environmental factor there that seems to be forgotten at times.
A child who is never allowed to reach for those monkey bars will eventually become to fearful to reach. A child who is only permitted to learn through books will one day forget how to play. A child who is never allowed to take a chance will learn to sit back and simply observe.
It’s time to stop trying to acquire perfection and get back to our instincts. It’s time to stop questioning, criticizing, and judging, and just be the best parents that we can be. It’s time to show our children that we believe in ourselves, and that we also believe in them.
It’s time to start parenting without anxiety.
What’s your biggest worry as a parent?
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