Anxious or Fearful Parenting
Sometimes it feels like not a week goes by where you don’t hear about a mass killing, a child eaten by an alligator, a teen killed in an auto accident, a college freshman killing themselves because of overwhelming stress or an adolescent starving themselves to reach that perfect weight or gain social acceptance. As a parent, it’s difficult not to feel consistently anxious or fearful in the face of these events.
Sometimes your own anxiety or the trauma you carry with you can be triggered by the parenting role. If you have a personal history of anxious parenting, you might also be holding onto the idea that a “good parent” is an anxious and controlling one. Whatever the case, how, in the midst of this busy and anxious world, can you manage your anxiety so, as a parent, you don’t make decisions around your children that come from a place of fear? There are several different ways to do that. Here are some suggestions.
Avoid letting your concerns make you over-controlling or direct the way your structure your parenting or make decisions.
As a parent, it’s important to check your fears and work toward accepting that it’s unreasonable for you to think you can keep your children safe at all times. Setting your parenting goals to focus on the things that you can influence and have control over is more helpful that focusing on things you can’t control. Sadly, one of those things is your children’s or teens safety. They will face obstacles, challenges and even danger throughout their lives, so a more effective goals is to raise an individual who, when faced with danger, criticism or anxiety, has the skills to navigate that challenge to the best of their ability. My follow-up to this blog post will focus on family-based coping skills that parents can teach and model for their children that will them a lifetime.
Take time away from your children to examine and process and your own anxiety.
It’s very easy to get so caught up in patterns of fearful parenting that you lose perspective what it would be like to parent without all the fear and anxiety. One of the ways you can regain that perspective is through self-care.
- Go on a 20 min walk without your children and focus on your breath and calm your mind.
- Take a warm bath or shower and meditate on positive thoughts or reassuring phrases.
- Find a way to sit with a friend and laugh about life. Make a space where you feel free to not be worried and anxious.
- Ask for help. The best parents most of us know are the parents that ask for help because they realize that they can’t do it alone.
Give yourself grace and time to make changes.
If you’ve realized you’re a fearful parent, and are wondering if it is too late to change your parenting style, it’s not! No matter what age children you have, you can switch your parenting style from fearful to brave, moving away from being an over-controlling parent towards an independence-building parent.
If you find yourself struggling with these changes, look for support from a friend who parents without obvious fear and anxiety, or a counselor who specializes in parenting support and change. No matter how confusing and chaotic life becomes around you, you don’t have to live as a fearful parent any more.
If you feel you struggle with fearful parenting and could benefit from counseling and parent coaching contact me today!