In light of the Bumbo Baby Seat recall, I am reminded of how much we worry as parents.
When our first-born child, Stella was only 2 hours old, I said to my husband, "You better
have a darn good relationship with her for her entire life. You may be the only
connection we have to her in her teen years." He just looked at me like I was crazy. In
his defense, I probably was a little crazy. I had just gone through labor. That said, I
clarified my statement to him the next day and still stand by statement today. This is
how that conversation went:
Hubby: Are you aware that you lectured me about my relationship with our daughter
Me: Yep. I still feel that way.
Hubby: Help me understand.
Me: You see, girls are tough. They are emotional and passionate, curious and intense.
They are gentle and tough, sweet and bold. They are complicated. Eventually, they think they know more than their mothers. So, if they have a strong relationship with their fathers, they won’t stray too far and try to get their needs met by some teenager. Dad can be the mediator if needed.
Hubby: You got all of that in her first two hours of life?
I just smiled. This story had formed many years ago. The seed of what a daughter
needs was planted in my heart long before I became a mother. I am the oldest of 3 girls
and have also worked with hundreds of teenagers. While I was pregnant, I thought
about what I wanted our relationship with our child to be like. We didn’t know if we were
having a girl or a boy. Quite frankly, the thought of parenting scared the daylights out of
me. So, when that precious little bundle joined our world, I wanted to make sure the
three of us were on the same page.
This is just a little glimpse into how a parent might worry about her child. As I reflect on
that moment, I realize now that I was so worried about our daughter’s future 15 years
from that moment, that I was not 100% present, in the moment, with my husband and
our daughter. I later learned a great quote, “Fear causes us to worry about the future,
react from the past, and takes us out of the present.” I am not sure who stated that, but
it has been a mantra in my head over and over as I work with my husband to raise our
I have enlisted a few parenting strategies that I use and I teach others to use in order to get through those moments of worry:
- Ask yourself if this a justified worry or am I making something out of nothing? For example, are you scared that your child will get hit by a car when they are out playing with their friends. Or, are you concerned that your child will be a drug user when they are a toddler?
- If you have a justified worry, talk about it with your child. Focus on safety and share your concerns. "I love when you play with your friends. I love it more when you are safe and look for traffic. Show me how you look for traffic when you play with your friends."
- When you are really worried about the future of your child, make a plan. If you do not want you child to use drugs in their teen years, help them develop great self-esteem and have the ability to say no. That means they have to practice saying no with you first.
- Focus on the moment at hand. Most likely, right in this very moment, your child is not in crisis and neither are you. Keep that in mind and enjoy this very moment.
- Prepare, communicate, and practice. One of my big worries is losing a toddler in a big crowd like a carnival or fair. So, we have to prepare, communicate, and practice expectations for what happens in big crowds BEFORE we get to that moment. Our brains need lots of repetition before we have mastered something, so practice multiple times and your child will be prepared.
Remember, it’s normal to worry about your child. However, when that worry becomes debilitating or starts to affect the relationship with your child, intervene. Seek advice from friends or professional help if you feel like your worry isimpacting your everyday happiness and connection with your child.