If any parent tells you that they haven’t had a seemingly irrational thought about their children, then they are lying. It is really normal to have anxious thoughts about your child, especially when they are brand new.
In order to normalise and open up about these anxieties I thought I’d share some of mine, and also some that were shared with me by other parents.
Some of mine include, but this is by no means an exhaustive list:
That they will get run over. That they might get bullied. That something might happen to them when they are with the other parent. That they won’t have any friends. That they might die. That they will feel emotional pain. That they don’t do well at school…
Some of the anxieties that people shared with me as parents were:
Am I doing a good enough job? That I am failing as a parent. That they will die when I’m not there. That an awful accident will happen. That they have enough emotional support.
All of the anxieties that were shared with me, and there were a lot, no one of them did I think, ‘no I can’t relate to this one.’ It made me feel better about my anxieties and that actually we are all in this together. Knowledge is power and as soon as you have the self awareness to recognise that these anxieties are rising again, then we can take action.
It’s really important to make sure that these anxious thoughts are easily settled again and aren’t ruling your life. For example, ‘my child is going to die.’ Is that impacting on your daily life? Is it having an impact on your parenting? Are you transferring this anxiety onto your child? Or there may have been a bereavement in the family that is making this anxiety more prominent that it would be for other parents. That’s when you need to get some extra support, in fact this is essential. By maybe visiting your doctor or seeing what other support is out there, and know that whatever your anxiety is a doctor/ health visitor etc will have heard it before.
Once you have a self awareness about your anxieties as a parent then you can start to unpick them by asking yourself:
What is your emotional weather like today? You can attach how you are feeling to a weather condition, like stormy for angry, cloudy for confused, raining for sad etc. As if you are feeling something difficult then this may amplify your anxieties.
Am I catastrophising? Are you thinking worst case scenarios, and what is the likelihood of this happening. Sometimes focusing on the logical side of things helps.
Am I over estimating danger? For example your child being run over by a car, so therefore you don’t let your child outside.
Is this a possibility or a certainty? Is there a chance or is this 100%. putting a percentage on something also helps to logically work through this anxiety.
Have you spoken to your positive person about this? Someone that can reason and will say all of the right things to you. Speak to someone, often voicing the anxieties melts them away.
Is this a nuisance or hell to you? Is this just a niggling thought or is it taking over your every thought and you can’t think of anything else?
Some Layered Breathing
Nikki Wilson from Ten Of Zen gives us some handy tips for releasing stress and anxiety. Ten of Zen is centred around Mindfulness and focuses on reducing stress and increasing love.
Nikki agrees that there is a interconnection of stress and parenting. Nikki highlights that there is a long held myth that parenting is some how meant to be easy. But struggle and challenge is part of the human condition and part of bringing up little humans.
If in doubt, breathe it out.
Then if it is available then we can layer on some stuff.
As you breathe out you can name the emotion eg anger, sadness, confusion.
Then we can swear as we breathe out, drop the F bomb can be very cathartic.
Then you can add on some love stuff. Place your hand on heart centre and use kind comforting words. ‘Everything will be ok’ with your hand placed on your heart.
It won’t solve everything but it can help when you can feel stress rising.
I guess the best thing that I took away from writing this blog is that we are all in this crazy, anxious parental boat together. By voicing our anxieties I realised that we all had very similar things that we worry about as parents, and that be giving this worries some air time actually is a powerful and comforting step.