10 Things Parents Should Stop Worrying About
The pressure we put on ourselves as parents to get it right (whatever that means) can leave us bumping up against anxiety at every turn. Allowing our worries to intrude on our parenting practices, however, can backfire. Researchers at the University of Arizona found kids of over-involved parents had poorer coping skills and a greater sense of entitlement.
The good news? We’re better parents when we worry less and let go more. Here are 10 things you can drop from your list of worries:
1. You don’t spend enough one-on-one time with your child. Most parents think this from time to time, unless they’re home with their kids 24 hours, seven days a week. When that guilt springs up, it may be signaling a need for change in your schedule. Pull out the calendar and plan a special date with your child or look for new ways to maximize the time you do have.
2. Your child does not have the latest, greatest [fill-in-the-blank]. Don’t fall prey to feeling bad about this, but instead consider what you do provide for your child – food, clothing, security and love. Banish the guilt by working together as a family to regularly be grateful for what you have as a family.
3. Forgetting – a promise, a birthday or a play date. Any time we fail to remember something our kids are counting on can be an occasion for guilt, but it happens. When you forget, do your best to make it up to your child without going overboard, and ask them to help you come up with a new strategy for remembering. As children get older, they can take some responsibility for schedules.
4. You will miss your child’s game/recital/conference/performance. It’s difficult to be multiple places at one time. If you’re present for your child in the everyday moments, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing well. And if you know you’ll miss the special time beforehand, have someone record it. Replay it later with your child.
5. You sometimes want to do your own thing, minus the kids. You were a human with interests and needs before becoming a parent. Taking time away from the kids isn’t a sign that you don’t love them, but rather a sign that you love them enough to want to be your best self when you’re with them by refueling in ways most suited to you. Those ways don’t always include the kids.
6. Your child won’t thrive – at school, in friendships, in extracurricular activities. Each of us meets our match in one arena of life or another. Kids are no different. Remember any challenge that comes your child’s way provides an opportunity for growth. Do your best to support them. If necessary, provide extra time and resources for a season. Then demonstrate your confidence by encouraging your child to navigate on his or her own or with assigned helpers using the skills they have been taught.
7. Your child’s diet. Is your child growing? Is he healthy? Does she have enough energy? Then you’re probably feeding him well enough. If you’re truly concerned, track your family’s diet. Search out healthier alternatives and gradually introduce changes. We could all use a tweaking of our food habits on occasion.
8. A mistake you made will scar them for life. You forgot to send treats on their birthday. You didn’t know the school gym uniform was mandatory. We all goof from time to time. And sure, your child may not forget. Instead, it could end up being the source of laughs for years to come.
9. The unthinkable will happen. It’s hard not to see headlines about the latest tragedy and not fear for your family, but those worries don’t serve anyone. Remind yourself to control what you can. Provide a safe environment for your family and educate your child on how to stay safe in a variety of settings — let go of the rest.
10. You’re not doing a good enough job as a parent. The fact that you worry about this at all is a strong indicator you’re an invested parent. You are giving it your best. Trust that in spite of any failings, your child knows you are trying. Your love and concern count for a whole lot more than you realize.
The vulnerability of being a parent means we are always concerned for our children, but when you transform those worries into action, the whole family benefits and you move further toward being the parent we all hope to be.
Lara Krupicka is a parenting journalist and mom of three girls who give her plenty of opportunities to practice letting go of worry.