Are you looking for ways to get free from parental anxiety? You know, the crazy questions that run through your head all day like: “What if my child doesn’t keep up academically with the other kids? “What if my son doesn’t make the team? ” Or… “What if my daughter doesn’t fit in socially?
My favorite (not) is parental anxiety regarding a child’s health. Ever thought, “What if my child gets hurt, gets a disease, or even dies?”
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Perhaps these are just a few of the “what ifs” you have been thinking about lately as your kids are growing and changing. Let’s face it, as moms, we know a lot about how the world works. It is only natural to be concerned about safety, friends, grades, athletic performance, social life, etc.
But sooner or later, if you keep up the constant churning, it will turn into a big, bad habit of fear. Once your child gets through a situation, another one will come along to take its place.
Truthfully, the worry cycle is never-ending unless you make a concerted effort to stop the insanity.
Check out these clues to see if you have a “worrying mom-brain” and how to fix it! You don’t have to be trapped inside your own drama that, most of the time, never happens.
What is Parental Anxiety?
Parental anxiety is when a parent excessively worries about any and everything that could possibly go wrong, and then passes those worries onto her child.
Perhaps you have heard of “helicopter parents” who hover over their kids or “lawnmower” parents who are said to “mow down” every obstacle or person in their child’s way so they never experience problems or feel pain.
Sadly, these behaviors have a real impact on a child. It causes kids to be fearful to try new things or give up and not try at all due to fear of failure or harm since they have never learned how to problem-solve.
Most likely, the root of all this anxiety comes from listening to the news, social media, your own childhood trauma, or tragic information from friends or family.
While it is true that there is a real need for caution and wisdom, we still have to push our kids to experience life and take risks knowing that failure is just a part of learning and growing.
Parental Anxiety Scale: 7 Things You May Be Doing
Check out these parental anxiety symptoms. This list may not encompass everything, but it is a good start.
1. You are an overthinking parent. You run “potential situations” over and over in your head fearing the worst every time.
2. You become irritable, short-tempered, or angry when you think something is going to happen.
3. You wallow in pain, complain, or become depressed due to the constant fear of the unknown.
4. You are overprotective. You don’t let your kids experience life which in turn keeps them from the best teacher of all–mistakes.
5. You are controlling. You try to control every outcome, shielding your child from pain.
6. You avoid teaching responsibility. You prevent your child from taking responsibility for bad choices or feeling the consequence because you don’t want him to suffer.
How to Calm An Anxious Parent: 7 Ways to Manage Parental Anxiety
Here is how to deal with your parental anxiety appropriately and calm your anxious heart. Check out these seven tips to manage the overthinking and constant worry about your child. Learn how to redirect your parental stress to more healthy activities.
1. Discover the Root Cause
What is the root cause of your parental anxiety? Is it the news, social media, family, friends, memories of your own childhood, etc.? Think hard about this. What can you do to minimize that input in your life?
Perhaps it is time to stop watching the news or spending so much time on social media. Additionally, consider taking a break from that friend who is always talking about how her child has accomplished…well, everything.
It can be stressful worrying if your child is keeping up with the Jones.’ All that comparison can make a mom crazy.
If you don’t know what is causing your parental anxiety, pray and ask God to show you.
2. Deal With the Fear and Hurts
Chances are there is a lot of fear that is making you upset about your child’s grades, friends, social status, athletic performance, or whatever.
Deal with your fear by doing what you can to make the situation better (tutoring, lessons, play dates, medical attention), and then acknowledge that you do not have the power to fix the rest.
Many times our own childhood traumas are triggered when we see our kids going through some of the same things we experienced years ago. It is important to identify these childhood hurts and deal with them before they get mixed up with your kid’s pain.
3. Start Praying
Yes, it’s time to get down on your knees and pray! I promise it works. (It takes time so be patient.) Instead of wallowing in parental anxiety, do something about it. Don’t just sit by and watch things happen without a fight.
This is the single best thing I have done to combat my own parental anxiety! The devil will tell you it’s a waste of time. It’s a HUGE lie.
When I first started praying, I used Stormie O’Martin’s book The Power of a Praying Parent to help kickstart my prayer life. (I still use it!)
You can take the prayer at the end of each chapter in Stormie’s book and insert your child’s name in it. Or go straight to the Bible and insert your child’s name directly into scripture verses. I suggest starting in Psalms or Proverbs.
To make things easy, you can get these free printable scripture cards already made for you with all the “do not fear” verses right at your fingertips. Easy peasy! Pray them over you and/or your kids.
4. Tell Yourself the Truth
Remind yourself of the truth: kids learn from their mistakes. Sometimes a field trip is the only way to get to a stubborn heart.
Saving them from every problem will only handicap them in the long run. Continue to tell yourself that they need to feel the consequence of their actions.
For instance, allow your kids to feel the pain of a forgotten lunch or homework assignment, the consequence of skipping chores, or not coming home on time.
On the flip side, don’t forget to encourage them to try new things that may be a bit risky but within the normal bounds of childhood behavior (sports, new friendships, skills, travel, mission trip, tryout for a part, etc.).
Sometimes kids experiment with destructive behaviors such as sex, drugs, or alcohol. While these behaviors can’t always be stopped, you can make sure they feel the consequences of their actions.
More importantly, if they are experimenting, address it head-on. This is not the time to freeze up with fear and run from the situation. They need you now more than ever.
5. Exercise/Deep breathe/Music
Start moving. Get on a treadmill, bike, or whatever gets your heart rate up. This will help with all that restless energy that is keeping you up at night. Try deep breathing, meditation (on God), or Yoga.
Movement will help calm your parental anxiety. It is a natural way to deal with stress.
Extra tip: I have found listening to worship music or “fear not” meditation on YouTube to be incredibly helpful when I can’t sleep or need comfort in the day.
6. Give yourself grace
It is important to give yourself grace for the hard days.
Forgive yourself and move forward if you have been in the saving mode for years.
Most of the time, rescuing comes from a place of love. No parent wants to watch their child suffer. It takes a strong stomach to let your child fail an assignment, go without lunch, or be grounded for the weekend.
7. Let It Go
If you want to calm yourself as an anxious parent, you are going to have to make a conscious effort to let it go every day. And trust God. It is a choice you make.
FYI: It doesn’t come naturally!
Realize that control is an unhealthy parenting habit that is easy to fall into when you are fearful. If you continue to worry, there is a good chance you will pass the bad habit to your kids.
Let go of the worry not only for your sake but also for the sake of your child. More importantly, you will set a good example for your child if you model trust in God.
Do Parents Ever Stop Worrying?
Do you ever wonder if there will be a day that you stop worrying about your kids?
For me, I have found that worry is more of a management issue. Kinda like the whack-a-mole game.
When it rears its ugly head I have to whack it back down.
Moreover, worrying is a choice. If you want to break the habit, then start implementing these coping mechanisms. They are appropriate ways to get free from parental anxiety. (The scripture cards help a lot!)
I still use these cards even though my kids are now adults. I will never stop praying! I have to remind myself every day that God is in charge. I can trust Him because He is good.
How do you deal with parental anxiety? Leave a comment below.
Got Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
Are you experiencing family problems or have a family estrangement? Do you feel shame, anger, or rejection? Check out my book Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.
This book not only talks about my seven-year estrangement from my Christian family but also gives solid tips to help you with your family problems. Break free from your pain. Allow God to heal you no matter what has happened in your family of origin. There is hope when your family falls apart.
Creating Family Memories Book
Get Creating Family Memories. This book will help you manage your family in a way that allows more time to be intentional with your kids. It includes a schedule too. You can get it at your favorite bookstore.
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