When I recently asked for topics you’d like me to write about, a mother’s anxiety came up.
I can relate. So I’ll write.
Anxiety creeps in the minute you see the “+” on the pregnancy test:
What if something’s wrong with the baby?
What if I won’t be a good mom?
What if I it’s a (boy) or (girl)… and I won’t know how to raise them?
What if the father and I aren’t on the same page?
What if we can’t afford the baby?
What if they inherit my problems?
The “what-if’s” don’t end when the baby comes. They morph into the next season of “what-if’s.”
What if I don’t discipline their tantrums right and they’re a rebellious teen?
What if they don’t have friends because they’re shy?
What if they can’t succeed in school because of their learning disability?
What if they fall off their bike? Get picked up by a stranger?
What if they get pregnant, hang out with wrong friends?”
It. Never. Ends.
I parented my older children in fear of “what-if’s”. I was overbearing and critical. At age 5, one of them had a melt-down in the bathroom at church over things kids should’t be worried about. While calming them in the bathroom stall, God told me something was out of balance.
I needed to stop. Breathe. And listen to Him.
That was one of many dialogues with the Holy Spirit I’ve learned to discern. It’s a conscious process every time to stop, breath, and listen to God. Human nature says, “fix it now.”
Whether it’s a child with special needs, a broken heart, or a one making ungodly choices, you have to stop, breathe, and listen to God when anxiety rules your emotions.
How do you practically do that?
Stop the racing thoughts that flood you in the moment, or nag you over time.
Stop parenting out of fear.
Stop, look, and listen to your child. Hear what he or she needs in the moment. Be calm to dispel their fears. Then, address the broader needs of the situation during non-conflict times.
Stop letting your emotions dominate the wisdom God’s given you.
Stop believing lies of the enemy that perpetuates fears, feeds your reactions, and distracts you from your child’s heart.
Stop focusing on future unknowns. Instead, concentrate on the current situation and the truth you know right now.
Stop feeding your fears.
When you feel anxiety creep in,
When you have racing thoughts,
When you’re responding impulsively,
Stop and breathe.
Deep breathing is a primary intervention for anxiety.
Then, spiritually breathe. Inhale the wisdom of the Holy Spirit by asking for discernment so you can exhale His truth in the situation.
Let your mind and body rest.
Take a break.
Walk away from your child if needed or from the torment of your own thoughts.
Do something different than what you’re doing or thinking in the moment. A change of scenery gives a change of perspective.
Get fresh air. Literally, figuratively, and spiritually.
Not only do you need calm; your kids need you to be calm, too. Kids sense, mirror, and internalize your emotions. Your calm and peaceful response brings strength and security to them.
What are ways you can “breathe” in moments of anxiety?
What are different fears or anxieties you have as a parent? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to continue to address this topic.
The 3rd part of this article – Listening to God – will be in the next post.
Even though I work with parents on this topic, these principles are personal to me, too. I work on them daily as my kids have new experiences.
You’re not alone.