Parenting is the most important “job” we will ever hold. Shaping young hearts and minds is an incredible responsibility and should be viewed as our most important mission. In our modern society, parenting has become inundated with too many rules, an excess of best practice suggestions, and overkill on opinions. Many individuals find they have become exceedingly anxious due to the pressures that are placed on parents today. Although not always a good thing, there are several positive ways that anxiety can impact your parenting.
As parents, we are always seeking ways to be more involved with our children. As parents with anxiety, sometimes we are driven to work overtime in this department. Fear based? Possibly. Potential for positive impact? Absolutely! In order to survive parenting with anxiety, it is essential to learn how to see the plus side whenever possible!
To that end, I have compiled 10 positive ways that anxiety can impact your parenting.
Let’s face it – people with anxiety are on high alert all the time. There is no rest. When it comes to parenting, this trait likely makes us more vigilant. Increased awareness of your child’s whereabouts, their moods, the friends they are hanging out with, etc. is a good thing. It helps you be sure to stay involved in their life. It increases your sensitivity to minor changes that others may miss. Sometimes, these “minor” changes are actually a prelude to big issues.
Anxiety does a fun little thing in your mind called “second guess everything I have ever done since the beginning of time.” While exhausting, it can a positive way that anxiety will impact parenting. Anxious parents are a lot less likely to forget that upcoming assignment, leave the lunch box at home, or miss out on the school play. The gift of double checking everything, multiple times a day, can boost parents’ memory. What parent hasn’t struggled with trying to keep it all straight?
Medical Health Anxiety
I have an MD in google health. This means I am deeply aware of any potential health risk to myself or my loved ones. Although it causes me many sleepless nights, it also helps me be more aware of any physical health signs I would otherwise miss. While the downside to this is a potential for “false positives” when it comes to diagnosing what is happening, the upside is I’ll probably recognize that dangerous rash about 200 hours before any other parent will. These secrete parenting superpower skills can help me nip things in the bud really early in the game.
I can always depend on myself to be the awkward social engager during parenting activities. Birthday parties, school pickup lines, play dates – count me in for stilted, lack of eye contact small talk. Many people are unaware that individuals with anxiety are often very introverted as well. Equally unknown is that introverts have an uncanny ability to observe surroundings and understand what is going on under the surface. This is an extremely useful tool when parenting. Anxious parents will observe social undercurrents impacting their child in ways that other parents will never pick up on. This insider knowledge can help parents empower their kids to make healthy social and interpersonal decisions, as well as elevate their empathy skills.
Anxious parents are hygiene ninjas. They are fully equipped with surplus germ x, antibacterial wipes, and first aid kits. They proactively install what I like to call “bacteria barriers” (other parents call these band aids). Those of us who are anxious will also actually keep our children home from school when they are actively contagious – you’re welcome.
Parents want their kids to be successful. Anxiety and parenting combine to produce a desperate desire for happy, successful kids. Most anxious parents will be the #1 advocate for their children. They will forever be in their corner and focused on helping them achieve their goals. With a little regulation to avoid over-protection, anxious parents stand to exponentially empower their kids for success. Being centrally focused on your child’s success is another positive way that anxiety can impact parenting.
So many of us trust schools to take care of our children between 35-40 hours a week. We trust them to safeguard our kids, build them up, teach them, and cherish them. Unfortunately, in many cases this is blind trust. One of the most positive ways that anxiety can impact parenting is by ensuring parental involvement in all aspects of schooling. Our youth are in critical need of more involved parents in the school system. More than ever before, the potential for violence, bullying, and destroying innocence is extreme. Anxious parents will naturally seek out ways to be involved in their children’s school. Speaking individually with teachers, getting to know school leadership, volunteering to get a feeling for the school atmosphere – these are all ways that anxious parents will monitor their children’s school interactions.
Food and Diet
Research is pretty clear that a healthy diet is vital to well being. Fortunately, most anxious parents are fairly attuned to creative ways of promoting healthy food and diet in their kids. While I cave more often with my own unhealthy comfort choices (that typically involve swiss cake rolls and/or soda), my anxiety keeps a close check on the eating habits of my child. Most of the time, anxious parents are very driven to offer food and diet choices that will increase the health and decrease potential for sickness in their children.
Anxiety does a great job of shutting my mouth when I am considering spouting nonsense to someone. Because of the decades I have spent second guessing everything I have ever said, I’ve learned the valuable lesson of zipping it. This is something I promote to my child whenever possible. More people need to sit back, observe what is happening, and speak thoughts/opinions only when it really matters. Our opinions have become cheap and overplayed. Children who are able to respectfully engage with others, listen to opinions different than their own, and truly think about what is going on around them will be exponentially more respectful and intuitive.
As an anxious parent, one of my #1 worries with my child is how to empower him to be creative. Most parents desire that their children realize their full potential and use the special gifts that make them unique. God gifted each of us with extraordinary talents. Parents with anxiety excel at endorsing these gifts in their children. Many of these parents will go out of their way to find opportunities for imagination, creativity, and magic to happen. This anxious drive to help children recognize and use their talents can be an important protective factor when the sometimes-harsh reality of life comes knocking.
I am grateful for the role of parent that God has put into my hands. It is the overarching, defining blessing of my life. I understand the deep responsibility that comes with it, and I know for many parents this causes fear and distress. Learning ways to focus on the positive impact we have on our kids is so protective in keeping parents sane!