Concern for children is part of parenthood. Last spring, you shared some of your worries such as the children would not get friends, or get sick, or die. We also notice
the children's hospital that the anxiety is larger in many parents. This post is about when the anxiety gets exaggerated and what to do then.
Concern for children - common in parents
Most people worry - for the future, for the environment or for anyone else. Many people notice that anxiety becomes a more common and stronger feeling when they are for children. And, of course, parenting is an almost inexhaustible source of fear and concern for more or less likely dangers. What if the child is lonely? Have a terrible, undetected disease? If you notice that the anxiety about your children or your parenting is taking up too much space in your life, there are things you can do to allow the anxiety to take up just enough space.
Concerns are thoughts about the future that are not proven
When you worry, you almost always think quietly for yourself. These are quick and not fully conscious thoughts. Concerns can be formulated in words. If you try to pay attention to the thoughts that move through your head when you feel anxious, you may notice that they can very often be formulated with a sentence that begins "think about ..."
"What if my child has cancer"
"What if I hurt her by doing so much work"
"Imagine if they will be alone in school"
You may notice that concerns are almost always about something that will happen - or rather, about things that could happen if things are really bad. But the worry is usually like blurred photographs. It's hard to know exactly what they represent. What could be so bad? When will it happen?
Concern is a way of not solving problems
This is one of the strangest concerns: it does not lead forward. You worry about things that really matter, and it's easy to imagine that you deal with things by thinking through them. Very many of us also have a feeling of actually doing some of our difficulties when we worry. What would happen if I didn't worry about my child's health? What if I missed a weird dot on my skin? Forget a doctor's appointment? Concerns at the same time feel indispensable and anxious, both vital and unbearable. Very often, anxiety actually leads to passivity. The more you worry, the more unbearable you feel. Instead of meeting it, you don't have to do anything at all except - just that: worry.
What should I do instead?
If you recognize yourself this far, you can try to challenge your thoughts about worry. You can try to think of some time in your life when you have really worried. Could you have made things better by worrying a little more? Did the worry cause you to change anything in your way of dealing with life?
Concern for children causes the difficult feelings to live on
Not only does worry cause problems to seem insoluble, it can also cause feelings such as fear, sadness and anxiety to linger. When we become scared, the brain and body react in a way that prepares for defense: vigilance increases, we sweat, the heart first beats slower and then faster. These and several other reactions are triggered in some of the oldest parts of the brain. The normal thing is that they eventually ebb out, partly because other parts of the brain can control them. But worry seems to be the cause of it all. When one is worried, the fear and anxiety becomes less intense, but it does not ebb out as it would have done otherwise.
In psychological experiments, you notice that people who worry about something they have been through continue to show the same bodily signs of fear and anxiety for longer than others. In everyday life, it is felt that anxiety usually goes hand in hand with misery, bad mood and sadness.
Identify your concerns
If you think your concerns have taken up too much space, there are a few things you can do. The first is to get to know your concerns. What are they really about, those thoughts that go through your head? Pay attention to them, and write them down. Then you can try to question them. How likely is it that you are afraid that your children might end up? Are there other ways to look at it. Do not push aside or deny, but try to investigate the matter with wise arguments.
Solve the problems
The second advice is to give yourself time to solve problems you are worried about. Determine a time - maybe an hour on a Sunday night - when you really work on solutions. It may be wise to be very concrete, perhaps write down what to do and how. Ask for help from someone else if you think it helps, and if you have the opportunity.
Do you have a duty of concern?
Third piece of advice - think through your own notions of concern. Do you have any thoughts that you need to worry about? For your sake - or for someone else? Do you think the worry is useful? That it is a kind of duty? Such notions are often ingrained, almost automatic and can be difficult to get hold of. But challenging them can be a way to let go of the turmoil.
When you need help from others with your concerns
If the anxiety becomes so strong and difficult to control that it prevents you from living your life, it is a good idea to seek out a psychologist or doctor for advice and help. Severe anxiety can be part of a psychiatric condition, such as generalized anxiety disorder / generalized anxiety disorder or depression. The psychologist or physician can assist with assessment, diagnosis and treatment. The health center or occupational health care is good to contact in the first place.