The first time I flew on a plane with my firstborn baby, I had a panic attack. The reality of being responsible for this child’s life was overwhelming. My mom friends all seem to have similar concerns. We all have stress—and in healthy doses, it’s a normal thing. Being a mom and truly caring for your kids can create normal stress.
But persistent worry and fear can wear down your mental and physical reserves for coping and cause true anxiety. You have to learn how to overcome anxiety whenever it appears. Consider these areas of parenting where anxiety may be creeping in and stealing your joy.
1. Anxiety about your child’s performance.
There are some moms who are the garden-variety stage moms. They want their kids to shine because they like to catch a little of that spotlight for themselves. Then there are some moms who are downright panic-stricken at the thought of their child not being the best or the brightest. It starts with who reads first in preschool. Later on, it’s about who makes all-star in baseball or wins the spelling bee. You must distance yourself from the notion that every single attempt at achievement made by your child must result in wild success. To the contrary, those failures may be where the most important lessons are learned. Encourage your child to do his best, and then be happy with his best.
2. Anxiety about your child’s health.
Sometimes too much information is just that: too much. If you find yourself scouring the internet in the wee hours of the night comparing your child’s cough to every rare, deadly disease known to man, you’ve likely moved from informed concern to unnecessary anxiety. Of course, it’s always important to trust your mothers’ intuition when your children are sick to know when to seek care from a physician or specialist. But if you’re routinely worried about health issues and your physicians see no reason for concern, you may have lost perspective on your child’s wellness.
3. Anxiety about the future.
Oh, what we wouldn’t do for a crystal ball so we could know for sure that she gets into Harvard and wins the Nobel Prize! Whom they will marry, their success and happiness in their careers—there are just so many ways that it could go wrong, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it, really. That’s why we parent one day at a time. Keep an eye on those big-picture, lifelong ideas you want your child to grab onto, but deal with challenges as they come.
4. Anxiety over your child’s physical safety.
We all know that there are real dangers in the world. But excessive focus on these things can push past productive thinking and become debilitating. No mom can completely insulate her child from all risk. One of the best wisdom for how to overcome anxiety in parenting is to take those reasonable steps to ensure the likely safety of our children and then trust God to provide protection in areas where we can’t.
5. Anxiety about your child’s happiness.
Some moms are terrorized by the idea of their children not being happy today and down the road. And yes; peace, fulfillment, and contentment are things you should want for your children. But instead of focusing on the circumstances and challenges that you fear might compromise their joy, teach them to be people who know how to find joy in a variety of circumstances. And how is that best taught? By modeling it in your own life. If you’re a “glass half full” person, your kids are likely to be, as well.
Finally, if your feelings of anxiety are seriously monopolizing your thoughts or causing physical symptoms like feelings of panic, trembling, racing heartbeat or shortness of breath, discuss it with your physician or a qualified counselor. There are treatments which may help to alleviate your symptoms and help you to cope more effectively.
Here are some other ways to make time for yourself despite your busy schedule. And here are 8 ways to simplify your life.
What has encouraged you most in these areas? If you’ve struggled in your own life, what would you tell someone who wants to know how to overcome anxiety?
*Medical information within this site is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of any health condition. Please consult a licensed health care professional for the treatment or diagnosis of any medical condition.