5 Reasons Moms Can’t Recognize Their Own Anxiety

Your children deserve for you to break the cycle of anxiety.

Anxious and overwhelmed mother unable to recongize their own anxiety SB Arts Media | Canva

Many people, especially moms, can’t recognize that their anxiety is, in fact, anxiety. I previously discussed my anxious upbringing and how to change and grow in a way that is better for your children, but none of this work can happen when you still don’t understand that you’re anxious, and not “smart,” “careful,” or “realistic.

Here are 5 reasons moms can't recognize their own anxiety:

1. This is how you were raised, too

The large majority of anxious people were raised by anxious people. They are so used to anxiety being the norm that they cannot recognize that it is hurting them. They are used to feeling stressed and rushed, and overpreparing for everything weeks in advance. They are used to planning out every detail to give themselves the illusion that they can control things. 


For instance, they consider people who don’t plan out their schedule down to the moment to be irresponsible or immature, because they were raised in an environment where nothing was spontaneous. If your friends, spouse, or siblings have ever said that your parents were pretty anxious but you ignored this or minimized it, this may apply to you. (Incidentally, some people were neglected as children, and are overparenting in reaction to this neglect.)

@therealdrpsychmom if a child goes right back into an anxious home.... the effectiveness of therapy will be limited.#anxiety #psychologist #parenting #anxietydisorder #kids #therapy ♬ original sound - Dr Psych Mom

RELATED: 5 Major Ways Being Raised By A Difficult Parent Impacts Your Parenting


2. Your partner has ADHD or is an under-functioner

The ADHD/under-functioning man and the anxious, over-functioning woman pairing is very common. When a man acts “like a child,” his wife often doesn’t see her part in enabling this behavior, and assumes he is “the problem.” However, her over-functioning contributes greatly, and may even protect her from having to be intimate. When you pin all the blame on your partner, it is easy to avoid thinking about your issues, including anxiety and codependency.

3. Your child has special needs

No matter whether this is emotional or physical, moms of kids who need extra help and attention often end up spiraling into anxiety. Many moms even tell themselves that if they weren’t anxious, they never would have caught their child’s illness or been hypervigilant about signs they weren’t doing well. However, this is not usually true, as this idea is subject to confirmation bias and the parent doesn’t remember all the times that their anxiety ended up being overkill or even harmful.

Also, when a child is struggling, you want to make their life easier, and for women who find it hard to deal with a child’s unhappiness at the best of times, having a kid who struggles more than average exacerbates this desire to make everything perfect for them. 

RELATED: 7 Things Parents Need To Know About Caring For A Child With Special Needs


4. You have become superstitious about the idea of your anxiety being useful

As touched upon in the prior point, people tend to remember times that they did the right thing, versus the wrong thing. It is reassuring and validating to think about the time that you checked your kid’s backpack for a second time and saw a class trip form that you didn’t see the first time you checked it. This goes into your personal narrative about your anxiety being useful and functional. 

However, you don’t think about all the time wasted in your life that went toward rechecking items that were completely fine, how the teacher would have likely reached out to contact you about the missing form anyway, and how your child would have had a learning experience if he would have been the one to see the form and remind you, versus always being kept in a younger/more dependent role due to your over-functioning.

RELATED: 6 Things You Don't Realize You Do Because You Have High-Functioning Anxiety

5. Your marriage is bad so you dismiss your husband’s view that you’re anxious

Many men tell me that their wives are anxious, and have brought this up, only to be dismissed. This idea is dismissed quicker if the marriage is difficult or the man is critical overall. People are less likely to trust the input of those who they do not feel close to or supported by. However, I have rarely seen a situation where a partner’s perspective doesn’t have a grain of truth in it. If your partner has mentioned that you are anxious, this in and of itself needs to ring an alarm bell in your mind.

@therealdrpsychmom anxiety is very responsive to therapy. treat it for the sake of your marriage, your kids, and yourself! #marriage #psychologist #anxiety #therapy #relationships #therapists #parenting ♬ original sound - Dr Psych Mom

If any of these points resonate with you, therapy can help. Anxiety is very responsive to therapy. Medication can also help, and there are many things to try. Your children deserve for you to break the cycle of anxiety, and to teach them that the world is an exciting and interesting place, versus a dangerous place where people need to be on their A-game trying to control their environment at all times. Treating your anxiety is the best possible way to set your children up for happier and healthier lives and relationships, now and as adults. 

RELATED: Is Your Own Anxiety Hurting Your Child?

Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of Dr. Psych Mom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.