Being a parent is a blessing, a reality that most of us manage to keep in the back of our minds at all times. Our kids are our pride and joy, bringing excitement and love into our lives.
There is no doubt, however, that with parenting there is a certain mindset. Your mind becomes overactive, as your protective instinct is always on the look out for potential dangers. It’s not like it’s even something we have any control of! We’re hard-wired to look out for our kids, to try and see problems before they happen – and we always want to have a solution. Remember how you thought of your parents when you were a child? Like they could fix or do anything they set their minds to, most likely – an example you want to continue to set for your kids.
So, you worry. You fret. You panic. You Google late at night when something occurs to you. But don’t worry – at least you’re not alone! You’re joined by thousands of other parents who can’t always find the switch to turn off that protective instinct.
To further the community feel and ensure you don’t feel alone, let’s look through some of the most common parenting panics. There’s safety in number, so if you’ve thought any of the below thoughts, then you’re totally normal. Panicking like crazy, but hey, you can’t have everything right?
Thought: “What if my child just ate something poisonous?”
Your kid decides they want to try something new. Maybe they want food from a street vendor or found a berry while out on an eco-friendly nature walk. Your first instinct is to tell them it’s fine, go ahead and eat it – then they swallow, and you suddenly panic. What if it was poisonous? What if it wasn’t clean? What if they’re going to get sick off it?
The worst thing about this one is that it takes a good 12 hours to get rid of it. Eventually, with our children happily playing despite their adventurous food activities, we capitulate to reason and let it go. Oh, but the panic beforehand is something special…
Thought: “Have I done enough research about this product I’m going to buy?”
If you’re bringing an item into your children’s lives, then you’re going to want to research it. Nothing is getting anywhere near your kids without you knowing absolutely everything about it; no way and no how. That’s the thinking behind your 2 am Google sessions looking for the best baby car seat reviews and double-checking the federal safety requirements.
So you finally reach a point where you can switch off the computer, safe in the knowledge that the decision you’ve made is the right one. Then the new item arrives, and you’re suddenly awash with a wave of panic. Maybe you should have given it just one more hour of research…?
To handle this, it’s pretty simple: get to the point where you feel comfortable with the choice and stick to it. Don’t second guess your earlier self! That version of you cared about your kids’ safety just as much as your present-day self does, so give them a break and trust they made the right decision.
Thought: “Am I parenting correctly?”
With so many opinions flying around about the different methods of parenting, it’s only a matter of time before you start questioning your choices. In a way, that’s healthy! Thinking we know everything is a sure-fire way to disaster, so being open to ideas is a good thing.
Of course, it’s hard to tell yourself that in the midst of stumbling across an article that contradicts almost every parenting decision you’ve ever made. But here’s the rub: somewhere, there will be an article agreeing with every parenting decision you’ve ever made. Yes, it’s normal to worry and to take other opinions on board, but nothing invalidates the choices that you make as a parent.
Thought: “Does my child have [any one of a number of horrific illnesses]?”
Your kid sneezes and immediately, your brain panics. You start wondering if sneezing is a sign of something dangerous. Maybe tuberculosis? (No.) Or something else – maybe they’ve got a serious allergy, and you need to start carrying an Epi-Pen at all times? Or perhaps…
The worst thing that you can do in this situation is to take your concerns to Google. Because Google? Google is going to tell you the absolute worst case scenario. You’ll come away from it thinking a single sneeze is a sign of Avian Flu or the West Nile virus.
Of course, it’s probably just a regular sneeze that happens to us all – but nothing stops those brain cells from jumping onto the defensive!
Thought: “What have I missed?”
Finally, a nod to the most vicious of thoughts: the fear that you do not fear the right things.
There’s a condition that occurs in childhood that is recognized in psychotherapy. It’s a kind of God complex, whereby a child believes everything they do or think has some sort of influence on the world. It tends to manifest in personality quirks like not stepping on the cracks in the pavement because something bad will happen if they do.
Most kids grow out of it. If they don’t, it can develop into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or, they become parents and get a whole fresh batch of it.
It’s easy to fall into thinking that the one thing you have forgotten to learn about is the one thing you should have caught. You think maybe you should have read that symptom list for an illness for longer; maybe you should have bought a different brand of knee pads before they went skating; maybe you shouldn’t have taken the risk on the non-organic potatoes that time. You panic you dropped the ball the one time it was most important you catch it.
But you can’t catch every ball. It’s not possible; what you do regarding research and think is not going to influence what happens to your child. All you can do is be ready to roll with the punches – so long as your panicked, frazzled parent brain will let you!