Even if you are a fairly level-headed person, it’s common to experience an increase in the number of fears you have after having children. Someone once said to me, having a child is like having your heart run outside of you on legs – it’s a mixture of intense moments of joy and intense moments of vulnerability. However, when fears are unchecked they can drain your mental energy.
Here’s three common fears in parenting that have the potential to zap your energy and a suggestion on how you can shift your perspective to free you up:
1. They won’t be happy, they won’t be healthy, they won’t be successful
I had breakfast with a good friend yesterday. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, so it was a chance to catch up on our lives, including kids. She said, “I don’t know if she’s going to be happy” referring to her teenage daughter and she said, “I know I’m doing all I can to help her, I can’t do more than that.” I thought this was a profound statement.
How often do we assume we are responsible for our child’s happiness, our child’s health and our child’s success and how much of our energy do we spend thinking about this? Of course we have a significant part to play in each of these and when you know you’ve done as much as you can, are you able to make peace with the fact that you simply just don’t have control of what your child’s future holds or even what the next moment holds? It can be a difficult concept to grapple because you may feel like making peace is like giving up on your child. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Making peace subsides the fear and replaces it with acceptance of reality, returning your energy and helping you gain clarity to work out your next move.
2. I’m not spending enough time with my child
Rushing from work to home and from home to work, juggling ‘the must do’ list with the ‘have to’ list with the ‘nice to’ list, can feel endless. So when your child asks for you to play a game with them or watch a show, it’s understandable you feel like there’s not enough time.
Studies show that it is quality, not quantity, of time that makes children thrive. While research has usually focused on mothers, a study based on data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) showed that the amount of time fathers spend with children is less important than how much they enjoyed parenting. Fathers who took pleasure in caring for their young children were 28% less likely to have children with behavioural problems at both nine and 11 years old, according to the study.*
This suggests that if you are considering time with your child, focusing less on the fear of not spending enough time and more on maximising the enjoyment in the time that you have, is far more important and beneficial for you and your child.
3. I’m screwing up my kids
Every interaction with your child is an opportunity to create a memory. Each day is different. Worrying about screwing them up sucks up mental energy. Some days you are going to be your best, others not so much. The issue isn’t are you screwing up your kids, it’s more about your response when you have screwed up. Saying sorry, owning your screws ups keeps it real. Learning from screw ups and making the necessary changes to not repeat, makes a great role model for being human for your child.
Where could your perspective shift to free up some more energy?
The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.