After visiting my oldest at college recently across the country, I found myself taking note of how well she is managing for herself (knows her way around, has her apartment fixed up nicely, knows which stores have the best deals, etc.). I also found myself obsessing over the few things I found to worry about (she has to cross a really busy street to get to campus, she runs on a very isolated path, she doesn’t have a trustworthy mechanic there, etc.)
When I left her with my words of concern, she said “you’re just going to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy to focus on these things, you know,” which wracked me with guilt and…more worry!
Upon returning home, I shared my inability to shed my fears with a group of women I knew would understand – a group of moms who all have kids in high-school and college – in other words, prime time for things to go wrong. I was flooded with responses from these supportive women but their answers surprised me. I figured I’d hear a lot of “deal with it, they are nearly adults or are adults and there’s only so much you can do at this point in their lives.” Instead, they shared how the worrying never ends but they also shared great tips for coping.
Because many of their suggestions apply to parenting kids of any age, I wanted to share some of their wisdom with you:
- When worry starts to creep into your thoughts, mentally inventory all the good decisions your child has made.
- Think about the kids all you want, but imagine what could go right, rather than what could go wrong.
- I try to remember how much it hurt me when my mom was overprotective or would tell me all the horrid things that could happen and how it just made me scared of life. But it’s still a daily battle to not feel so frightened and worried each time they are not in my immediate visual field.
- Am I worrying about what I can’t change, or what hasn’t happened yet? If so, then I see how senseless it is.
- I will let you know when I stop…
My take-away is I need to still express my concerns to my daughter (and all of my kids) because it may bring a potential, but realistic, warning they might not have thought about in their life experience. But, I should say it and then move on and not dwell on my concerns with them or with myself. It doesn’t do any good to stress over what might happen. But it does do a lot of good to focus on all that is going right for her, all of the things she’s being really wise about and pat myself on the back for whatever part I had in influencing those good decisions over the years.
What are some of the things you worry about with your kids? Do you find the worry overwhelming you? How do you cope with it?
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