Tag Archive for worry

Parents, Do You Feed Your Insecurity or Your Confidence?

Raising a child is a demanding and difficult task. It raises our anxiety and brings out our greatest insecurities. I don’t know about you, but I have enough personal insecurity without bringing my parenting into the mix! Even worse, the more insecure we feel about our parenting, the less effective we are as parents. Effective parents are confident parents. So, how can we decrease our parental insecurity and increase our parental confidence? Perhaps the answer lies in the old Cherokee fable—the one we feed will grow.

Exhausted MomFeeding Parental Insecurity:

  • We feed parental insecurity with comparisons. When we compare our failed attempts to keep the house spotless or to prepare a healthy three course meal before rushing off to baseball practice with the parent who appears to have it all together, we feed our insecurities. Any time we compare ourselves to another, we feed our insecurities. When we compare our children with other children, we feed our insecurities.
  • We feed parental insecurity with worry about the future. Insecurity grows quickly when we worry about our children’s future education, athletic career, relationships, or safety. When we think more about the future than our present relationship, insecurity mounts. Statements of fear like, “What if I don’t…my children won’t…,” are lies that feed our insecurities.
  • We feed parental insecurity with labels that define us by our children’s status or achievements. When we view our children’s success or lack of success as a reflection on our effectiveness as a parent or our worth as a person, insecurity grows. When we let our children missing a basket, singing off tune, or wearing that oddly colored hat define us, insecurity will grow by leaps and bounds. These incidents may bring looks from other parents. Those looks do not define us; they define them.

Feeding Parental Confidence:

  • We feed parental confidence when we accept our children for “who they are” and “just as they are.” When we become students of children’s interests and strengths and learn to be content in their unique abilities and wonderful averageness, we feed our parental confidence. When we promote activities and opportunities that promote their unique abilities, even if those abilities vary from our interests and the interests of those around us, we will see our children blossom…and that view feeds our parental confidence.
  • We feed parental confidence when we focus on the present with our children. Rather than getting caught up in worry about the future, turn your attention to the present. Rather than worry about college, invest in tuition today. Rather than worry about future athletic achievement, focus on enjoying sportsmanship and athletic activity together today. Rather than worry about future safety, spend time with your children teaching them how to move safely in the world through your example…today! You get the idea. Rather than getting caught up in worry for tomorrow, enjoy your children today…and feed your parental confidence.
  • Feed parental confidence by getting a life. Rather than defining yourself through your children’s achievements and accomplishments, joys and sorrows, get a life of your own. Develop your own interests. Enjoy activities geared toward your strengths. Remember, your children will leave home one day to start a life and family of their own. Develop some hobbies, interests, and activities you can continue to enjoy even after they leave home. Doing so will feed parental confidence.

Now the choice is up to you. Which “wolf will you feed”?

Thanksgiving…A Day or Always?

Thanksgiving is more than a seasonal discussion of gratitude…more than a big family meal…more than a day of watching football. Thanksgiving, in my opinion, is a way of life. A lifestyle of thanksgiving provides many benefits to a family life. In fact, after reading these five benefits of thanksgiving, you might decide to let the day of Thanksgiving this year “jump start” a whole year of gratitude for your family.

  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving teaches us to appreciate the blessings we have. A thankful family replaces a sense of entitlement with an appreciation for the unearned gifts received…gifts like someone doing our laundry, preparing our meals, or paying the bills to keep our house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. A lifestyle of thanksgiving will takes us a step further to realize that every breath we take, every heartbeat that sends blood coursing through our body, and every time we run down the stairs are gifts we have been freely given. We truly are a blessed people.
  • Count Your Blessings on a cork notice boardThanksgiving replaces a selfish attitude with an attitude of generosity. As we realize how much we have received and how freely it was given, our desire to share will increase. We will become more generous. Generosity in a family leads to more acts of kindness and sharing…something else for which we can give thanks.
  • Thanksgiving helps us develop greater peace of mind. When we neglect to offer thanks for the gifts we have received, our selfish desires grow. We look at what we do not have and experience want, a growing desire for more. We experience envy. We grow demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving puts our desire in perspective. Thanksgiving turns our focus toward the blessings we have received, the abundant material blessing we have, and the amazing opportunities each day presents. Gratitude replaces desire and envy. Giving thanks replaces demanding. A lifestyle of thanksgiving helps us focus on how much we have to be thankful for.
  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving increases our joy and hope. As we focus on the blessings and gracious gifts we have received, we build a joyous past. We nurture an expectation that our future will be provided as well. We no longer need to worry and fret over what the future holds. Instead, the joys of thanksgiving will have strengthened the realization that God does provide and that life is good. We will have established a hope based on the memories of thanksgiving, a hope that God will also take care of our tomorrow. No need to worry, give thanks.
  • A lifestyle of thanksgiving even helps make tough times more bearable. For three ways thanksgiving does this read Intentional Gratitude.

A lifestyle of thanksgiving can benefit our families all year long! Why not let this season of Thanksgiving “jump start” a year of gratitude for your family? You can practice thanksgiving all year round by starting a thanksgiving tree, a gratitude journal, or simply making a point of thanking one another every day for something. Believe me, the benefits will prove priceless!

Bless Your Family With Worry-Free Living

I don’t know about you, but I can let excessive worries run away with me. In fact, I have to work at keeping those nasty worries at bay so they don’t interfere with my marriage, my family, and my life. If you’re not sure if worries interfere with your family life, read Worry Killed the Family…you might be surprised. In the meantime, here are six ways to replace worry with peace, anxiety with joy, and apprehension with intimacy.
     1.      Write 5-7 quotes, scriptures or sayings related to worry on notecards. Carry those notecards with you and read them several times throughout the day. You could read them when you wake up, after breakfast, during a midmorning break, during lunch, during a midafternoon break, after dinner and before bed. If you want the extra benefit of this exercise, invest the effort to memorize these sayings. Each time you begin to worry, repeat one of the sayings in your mind. If you have trouble coming up with quotes or sayings, here are a few:
     o    Be anxious for nothing but with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your requests known unto God and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus (Paul–Philippians 4:6-7).

o    In every life we have some trouble, when you worry you make it double, don’t worry, be happy (Bobby McFerrin).

o    Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (Peter–1 Peter 5:6-7).

o    Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength-carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying doesn’t empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength (Corrie ten Boom).

o    Worry is most often a prideful way of thinking that you have more control over life and its circumstances than you actually do (June Hunt).

2.      Realize the difference between simple concerns that that lead to action and excessive worry that consumes your time and your life. If you have a concern about something fixable, fix it. If it is not fixable, there is no benefit to worrying either. So, make a decision. Is your worry fixable? Then get to work. Invest the time and energy to address the problem.

3.      Practice gratitude. Every day think of three to five things for which you are grateful. Invest some time to think of new things to be grateful for every day. Write your thanks in a “gratitude journal” by keeping a simple list of thanks in a notebook. After a month, you will have a list of ninety to one hundred fifty things for which you are grateful. When you start to worry, take a moment and review your list.

4.      Recall incidents in which circumstances worked out without worry…or in spite of worry. Write these incidents down in your “gratitude journal” to create a memory bank section. If you cannot think of any times like this, take a risk and act in spite of your worry. Enjoy the outcome and write that incident in your memory bank.

5.      Acknowledge the voice in your head…the one that coaches you to worry. That worried internal voice that tells you how you “should” do things; that creates a mountain out of a mole hill by adding “what if’s” galore; that grows worry with absolutes such as “always,” “never,” “every,” and “no one.” Replace that coach with new coach that points out simple areas of improvement. Make sure the new internal coach will voice acceptance of your efforts as well as acknowledging and encouraging your progress.

6.      Finally, enlist the help of your family. Let them act as a voice of reason for you at times. Let them remind you that the “always” is really a “sometimes” and the “should” is really a “want” and a “choice.”

That gives you six ways to begin to address your worries. Really, the motivation to stop worrying is not simply to stop worrying. No, the motivation is to create peace and joy in your life, more intimacy in your family, and greater celebration with your family. So don’t worry, be happy. Sing along now…don’t worry, be happy!

Curiosity Killed the Cat, Worry Kills the Family

“Curiosity killed the cat” but worry kills the family. I know that sounds kind of extreme, but worry really does interfere with family intimacy. Worry becomes a quiet, unseen but powerful rip current that pulls families apart…or a whirlpool of twisting, turning, dizzying emotions that hurl a family into discord and confusion. Consider these ways that excessive worry can kill the family.
     ·         Worry in one family member limits the opportunities for all family members. When one person in the family is filled with worry, they can interfere with other family members’ exploration of the world around them. Exploration is crucial for healthy child development. Family exploration aids in building intimacy. Worry hinders exploration. It prevents family members from trying new things. Worry can even create fear in younger family members (children) who may believe, “If my Mom or Dad worries about this, it must be really bad.” Worry that prevents healthy exploration will lead to family members who doubt their own abilities, family members who lack the confidence to tackle life problems that arise. Excessive worry blocks a family’s growth and development.

·         Worry also creates distance between family members. Specifically, a person who worries will get so caught up in their own worries that they will find themselves unable to focus on other family members’ interests and concerns. Our mind can only handle so much information at a time and worry will consume all our mental space. Worry will drain our emotional energy, leaving us emotionally depleted and unable to connect with other family members. A family of worry becomes disconnected.

·         Worry increases family stress. It robs families of peace and joy. When someone in the family becomes obsessed with worry, everyone suffers. Everyone becomes concerned about keeping the worrier from becoming anxious or agitated. In order to avoid the stress of one person’s excessive worry, everyone “walk on egg shells.” Celebration gets lost in the fear of annoying the worrier and arousing his rage. Peace and joy succumb to confusion and constant vigilance. A family filled with worry is a family without celebration.   

·         Worry increases conflict within the family. Increased family stress caused by worry will lead to more agitation, stress, and arguing. Children will “rebel” against the worrier in an effort to explore the world around them, try new things, and learn about themselves. Some family members will attempt to argue with the worrier to decrease their worry. This will not work. It will only increase the conflict. Other family members may become agitated with the constant barrage of worry and negative comments. They may feel as though the worrier doubts their ability and, in response, they will become defensive, leading to more conflict. Yes, worry will travel many paths, but they all lead to greater conflict.

·         Worry can also shorten your time with the family. Family members may begin to avoid the worrier just because of the stress the worry creates. In addition, excessive worry increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke over the long run. Worry can shorten your life and lead to an early death. If you want to live a long and happy life with your family, don’t worry, be happy.
Worry hurls a family into confusion, drowns them in chaos, and ultimately brings family celebration to an untimely death. So, if you are a worrier…in the words of Bob Newhart, “Stop it!” If that seems too difficult (and if you are honest, it probably does) check out next week’s blog to learn several ways of putting your worries to rest and replacing them with peace and joy. Doing so will add years of joy to your family life!

A Magic Bullet?

I have spent what seems like a lifetime in search of some way to buffer my children against stress. The world seems to bombard our children with demands and pressures, “you have to’s” and “you better’s.” You know what I mean, the “You have to do perfect on the state assessment tests (PSSA’s for us) or you won’t graduate,” “You must practice all year or you won’t make the team,” “You have to enroll your child in the best preschool or they’ll miss out on the right college,” “You must learn a language, work for extra cash, practice every day for the play, make your curve ball perfect, volunteer each week, study for your bio test, talk to your friends, read 25 books…” You get the idea. I’m sure you have watched your children struggle through this litany of stressors and more. How can we help our children manage this stress? How can we buffer them against this kind of stress? I have finally found one answer to that question. It may not be the only answer, but it is a start…a very important start…and it has added benefits too. What is this magic bullet? Play! That’s right, unsupervised, unstructured, frivolous play. Allowing children to enjoy play, and engaging them in play, will buffer them against stress. Play provides the opportunity for children to work through, and relieve, their stress. Through play, children may act out possible solutions to their stress or simply repeat certain scenarios until they find themselves comfortable with them. In addition, play provides the opportunity for children to discover strengths and competencies, which helps reduce stress. Children can conquer their fears while acting out adult roles through play. They learn to cooperate and work as a group during play. All of this helps build competencies and reduce stress.
When parents allow their children to guide and lead them in a play activity, they learn a lot about their children. They will learn to see the world through their children’s eyes and discover how their children think about the world. This knowledge allows a parent to become familiar with their children and, as a result, more easily address their children’s worries and fears. Parents also learn how to better communicate with their children through the knowledge gained during play. As an added bonus, receiving a parent’s full attention and observing that a parent will follow “my guidance,” provides children with a sense of value…which is another great buffer against stress.

All of this (and I didn’t even mention how play allows a child to grow in creativity, language, negotiation, and self-control) will help your children respond to stress in a positive way. Oh yeah, and it is fun!  Play may not be the only way to help buffer a child against stress, but it is one way I don’t want to miss out on. How about you? Aye, wait a minute…why are you still sitting there? Go on; get out there with your children and play!