A Message to Parents: Relax a Little
Johnny was only 4 years old when his mom broke down crying in fear of his future when he didn’t get into the Center for Early Childhood Development in West Hollywood, Ca. She turned to a friend and said, “I ruined his future, don’t you see, he’s going to be so far behind the rest.” While this is just a dramatic reenactment, it’s really not too far off from reality. Parents are continuing to be scared stiff these days either over coddling their children or pressuring them so much that they’re burnt out. The message: Relax a little.
Colleges are nicknaming kids “teacups” or “crispies” based on whether they’ve been sheltered or pushed to the max.
Book after book comes out suggesting that parents need to relax a bit. Wendy Mogul wrote The Blessing Of A Skinned Knee and The Blessing of a B Minus to point to this highly longstanding trend in pushing or coddling kids.
What is the result? The actual parents are the ones who get so stressed and anxious that we have to wonder what are the kids learning? What kind of modeling is this? While anxiety can be genetic it can also certainly be learned through the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that parents worry and stress about life.
If you’re growing up and see your parent anxious and worried about certain aspects of life, you internalize the message that these are things to worry about. So when you grow up you just automatically worry about life, you don’t know why exactly, it’s just innate.
I’m not suggesting we get rid of anxiety completely. Anxiety can be motivating and tell us when to take action. It’s just when it’s imbalanced, which right now more often than not it is, we need to loosen the reign a bit.
See how much time a day you are worrying about your kid or your kid’s future. How much of your life gets put to the bottom of the to-do list leading to lack of self care and an increase in stress? How do you think this affects your kids?
Susan Engel is author of Red Flags or Red Herrings? Predicting Who Your Child Will Become and tells parents that if they’re spending more than one hour a day worrying about their children, that’s too much. Put that extra time into their job or into making schools better.
What is your experience with kids these days? What do you worry about? Please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.