Parenting and Anxiety

Last week, I wrote a post highlighting mental health resources in our community for support of children struggling with behavioral concerns. But what about parents? How many times in a week (or a day if you’re like me) do you find yourself swirling in a cloud of self doubt and worry. “Am I doing this right?” “Other parents ___, what’s wrong with me?” Should I be doing more? Should I be doing less? Why can’t I get things together and be my ideal parent?

Everywhere we turn, there are images of what “good parenting” looks like, what a good home environment looks like, what activities kids should be engaging in, and many many smiling faces. Most of the resources and magazines we draw on to give us ideas and build our parenting structures feed us these unrealistic images. From the time a baby is born and parents are faced with the first challenges of breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, all of our images of what parenting “should” look like loom over us, pelting us with guilt, uncertainty, and insecurity.

Does this sound familiar? Dr Alison Escalante calls this the “ShouldStorm” and in our current world of perfectionist parenting, our collection of parenting “shoulds” can cripple our resilience, undercut our relationships, and distance us from experiencing the blessings in parenting. In her TedTalk, Dr Escalante offers a tool for talking back to the anxiety of too many shoulds. Like “stop, drop and roll” for fire, she recommends using the steps “sigh, see, and start again.” Here you can find the article on Psychology Today and a link to the TedTalk on YouTube.

Anxiety can consume large parts of our lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 31% of adults report struggling with anxiety at some point in their lives. Understanding your own experience can go a long way in helping you cope with anxiety. What has helped you fight and survive the dread of anxiety? Let’s start a conversation; post your tools and thoughts in the comments section on our Facebook page.

If you feel like anxiety is consuming your life, either your own or your child’s, please reach out. You are not alone and there is help.