Parenting. It’s not for the faint of heart, especially if you have teenagers. The longer I have my own kids and the more I hear from other parents and professional sources, the more I recognize the ramifications of projecting our own anxieties and insecurities onto our children. Anxiety, depression, and several other challenges are contagious and those closest to us are the most likely ones to “catch” our modeled behaviors and obstacles.
I remember the time long ago when my children were just learning to toddle around and would fall on their little diaper-padded tooshies, only to have me set them back on their feet to do it all over again. Eventually, the little ones learned how to get themselves back up, and proceeded to running, without all of that padding. Mine, of course, eventually climbed walls and ran into a couple with their heads, but that is a different story. The point is that I helped them learn to get back up after they fell.
I have noticed lately that as children are getting older and the pressures of life stronger for them that parents are finding it harder and harder to stand back let them fall down. This is in spite of the fact that we spent all of those hours to make sure they could stand on their own feet and get up when they fall. Parental anxiety is now keeping youth from developing the very resilience that they will need as adults to thrive and overcome adversity.
Don’t get me wrong, I feel the same worries as everyone else while watching my teens navigate the world. I have even helped them a time or two when they probably would have been fine recovering on their own. Letting kids fail is hard. It is easy to internalize their struggles and failures as our own. Like I tell my own kids, “You are my heart walking around outside of my body.” Of course we get anxious as parents! When they get broken, we do right along side of them!
So, where is the balance? Really this is not about the kids. It is about our anxieties and how we show our kids to handle the thoughts and feelings we are experiencing. Teens who have seen anxious and ineffective coping skills modeled for them are likely to develop ineffective habits themselves. A gift parents can give their children is the gift of showing them how we overcome our own hangups so they know it is okay to be human and learning, growing, and striving are a life-long process that are worth pursuing.
If you are struggling with how to cope with parenting anxiety or other life challenges, it is not too late to find a listening ear and help to find a new way forward. You can call 425-429-7673 to schedule an appointment. Evening times are available and I hope to add some Saturday times soon.