“Our kids can be well-loved and still be anxious.
They can come from secure homes and still be anxious.
They can be reasonably scheduled and still be anxious.
They can have good friends and still be anxious.
They can have strong faith and still be anxious.
They can be covered in prayer and still be anxious.
They can be getting enough sleep and still be anxious.
They can have had a happy early childhood and still be anxious.
They can be excited for their future and still be anxious.
They can have realistic expectations for themselves and still be anxious.
They can be good but not overly pressured students and still be anxious.
As parents, we want some guarantee that all we have to do is this or that (or NOT do this or that), and our kids will be insured against anxiety.
But anxiety is no respecter of schedules or finances or grades or family dynamics or social status.
We can spend so much time trying to figure out what and whom to blame for our kids’ anxiety that we run out of energy for the real task before us: supporting our children, guiding them, finding helpful resources, adjusting details of their lives if necessary, and loving them more fiercely than ever.
I’m not suggesting we normalize anxiety. But I am suggesting we remove the stigma from it. We absolutely must respect our kids’ privacy, but if they give us permission to share in any way, we owe it to them to do so in a way that doesn’t treat anxiety like it’s something we’re ashamed of or embarrassed by. Because if we do, what does that tell our anxious kids about how we feel about them?
I’m also not suggesting we accept anxiety as unavoidable. But I am suggesting we reassure our kids they’re not the only ones fighting this good fight and if they share this part of themselves with others, it won’t scare them off.
And, I’m not suggesting we don’t look for root causes of anxiety, especially when they’re not obvious. Clearly, we can’t effectively heal if we don’t know what’s causing the illness. But I am suggesting there are other things to pay attention to, too.
Our tweens and teens and young adults can get so focused on asking, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ that they lose sight of all that’s right with them.
And their willingness to do what it takes—with our help and support and reinforcement of truth—to get to the place where they can say (and believe), ‘I have anxiety, but it does not have me. Anxiety is part of my life right now, but it is not the whole of it. I am anxious sometimes, but that is not all of who I am all the time. And who I am, both with and without anxiety, is someone the world needs me to be.'”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Elizabeth J. Spencer, blogger at Guilty Chocoholic Mama, of Battle Creek, Michigan. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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