One of the things most parents do very well is “worry about their children.” Logically, parents all know that worry does not help their children, but still they do it. Perhaps worry is part of love. Perhaps parents worry because they have the silly idea that if they worry long enough they will come up with an idea that will help them control their children. Maybe they worry because they feel that their children will sense their concern and decide to change their ways. Perhaps parents worry because they are frustrated and do not know what to do.
All of these reasons, I’m sure, are part of the reason for worry, but I think the main reason parents worry is because they do not have faith in their child and/or they do not have faith in themselves and the foundation they have given their child. They do not trust.
Henry Ward Beecher said, “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” The handle of anxiety or worry accomplishes nothing and may destroy or weaken our health. Our job as parents is to learn to use more trust and faith in ourselves and our children. Here are a few ideas on how to develop that faith and trust.
1. Mark Sanborn made the following statement. “Every morning when we wake up we are confronted with a choice: another day just like the last or a clean slate to start all over.” The first thing a parent must do to get out of the “worry trap” is to give up the idea that they have failed their child. Mistakes are made when we raise children. Raising children is something new parents have little experience with. Recognize mistakes will occur, learn from the mistakes, and start fresh each day.
2. Embrace the idea of “Free Agency.” We live in a mixed up world where many in the “Helping Professions” sell the idea that human beings become what they become because of their parents and the “conditioning” they receive. This is a new idea. Fifty years ago this idea could not be “sold” because no one would buy it. This idea would have been considered absurd. “What do you mean I’m responsible for my children’s behavior? Get out of here. My child knows what he is doing. I’ve taught him. The bad choices he or she is making are not my fault.” Common sense should still rule. Situations do not determine what individuals do or become. Individuals determine what individuals do. Individuals determine what they become. The fact that you and your child are free and independent agents has not changed. Do not blame yourself for your child’s decisions.
3. Accept the idea that children do not respond to constant nagging and advice. Embrace the idea that children (as well as adults) do respond to example, expectation, and love. Rather then trying to make or push your child into what you would like him or her to be, set the example, lead! Be their coach.
4. The most important trait that a parent must develop is faith in their child. When your child is making mistakes or really lousy choices, remember when they were toddles that use to sit on your lap as you read stories. Remember how you saw them then and the choice spirit you felt they were then. Unwise decisions to not change who we are or determine our worth. There are learning opportunities and consequences associated with unwise choices. Don’t give up on your children. Do not entertain the idea that the unwise behavior they are experimenting with now will never change. See your children’s lives as a video tape or play. They are still in Act I. Never lose faith in your child’s ability to learn from the mistakes, poor decisions, and bad judgments.
5. Finally, enjoy the moment. You need to keep yourself strong and healthy. Refuse to let the ineffectiveness of worry destroy your life. When you get it through your head that you can only influence your child’s behavior, then decide to work on controlling yourself not your child. Choose to be strong, not a basket case. Your child will figure it out. Enjoy watching the drama unfold. Don’t focus on your child’s unwise decisions. Be there for your child. Teach and expect your child to learn and grow. Impose consequences if you have to. But never stop taking care of you and enjoying life. Take up a hobby. Get a job. Take a shower. Read. Sew. Go golfing. Join a service organization. Go to church. Have fun.
When you decide to stop the pity parties, the self blame, the worry, and the guilt trips you will feel something is missing in your life. Worry takes up time and is easy to do. It is hard to give it up. Having faith in yourself and your child is hard. Walking by faith will be scary at first. But, if you are persistent, eventually a new you will emerge. You will be a happier person and a new relationship with your child will evolve. It will be worth the effort.