The anxiety of parenting…

Clare has written this fantastic guest post describing her anxiety about her eldest son starting high school. Even though my blog usually discusses parenting of younger children, I think the emotions she is feeling are something that many parents experience, no matter their children’s ages. I hope that her honest sharing will make people feel less alone when dealing with anxiety.

A guest post by Clare from NeonRainbowBlog

My eldest son Oli is 11 this year and joining the world of high schoolers in September. He is nothing but excited about the whole experience. For him this marks his leap into becoming an adult, where he gets more freedom and more responsibility. However, for me, I feel apprehension. My baby is no longer a baby at all, and I have no choice but to let him grow. If I could stop time right now I would, because in all honesty I don’t want him to grow up.

Oli-1.jpg

I’ve always been an overprotective parent and I often say the words “It’s better to be overprotective than underprotective”. Throughout Oli’s life he has had to deal with his Mum’s anxiety over letting him grow up, and even though to him it’s normal and doesn’t really phase him, I’ve no doubt when high school and the teenage years really do kick in that it may become somewhat of a problem.

As he’s grown up, my anxiety over parenting him has reared it’s ugly head numerous times. For example:

  1. I was always reluctant to let other people babysit him. When I did it would cause me nothing but worry, panic and nervousness.
  2. Trips to the park were coupled with overbearing “be careful, don’t do that, watch you don’t fall, wait your turn, don’t push in” comments. I’d be constantly following him around like he would break or fall at any moment.
  3. The same could be said for letting him walk places with us. This gave me major anxiety: what if he veered near the road, what if he fell by accident and into the road, what if a car came up onto the path and he was in front, what if, what if, what if.
  4. Even learning to ride a bike came with unbearable anxiety over him falling off, going out of my sight, hitting something, something hitting him.
  5. More recently he started playing out in our cul-de-sac and our neighbours houses. This prompted constant worry over where he was; was he being good? Could I trust him to know his boundaries? And lots more “what ifs”. I’d constantly look out the window or just sit there doing stuff while continuously being able to see him. I’d also text the other mums to make sure he was behaving or being good.

I feel like my anxiety does go beyond the realms of usual parental anxieties. I know every parent will feel some sort of panic over their child growing up, making changes and becoming their own person, but when does that panic get too much?

As time has gone on the anxiety I feel when my son plays out has subsided. He can play out in our little street and in the neighbours’ houses and I feel virtually anxiety free. I’ve gotten used to it. He even ventures over to the shop or the Pokestop on our estate (it’s a few mins away) with his friends – he has to have his phone with him, and a time limit to be back for before I go looking, but 9/10 I feel okay with him going – not 100%, but manageable.

However the thought of him going to high school is terrifying me.

High school for me was a terrible experience. Most of the anxiety I harbour today was born in that playground. I was bullied by my own “friends”, no less (though I didn’t really see this until I was an adult). I felt like I had nobody I could fully trust or who wanted to genuinely be my friend. There would be days I had lots of friends to hang out with, but the very next day they could decide they didn’t want to hang out with me at all, so I’d be the loner. There was no stability for me, and that’s why I find it hard to form friendships now I am an adult. I struggle to trust anyone, and those feelings of sadness, hurt and anxiety I felt are always at the forefront of my mind when I think back to my experience of high school.

I feel all those old feelings of anxiety are flooding back to me every time I think about him going. What if he gets bullied? What if nobody likes him? Will he be okay walking to and from school (even though it’s at the bottom of our estate)?

But furthermore, what about when he wants to go out with his friends alone and go to parties? I don’t know how I am going to cope with giving him that kind of freedom, but I know it’s an essential part of growing up.

Is it just my anxiety from childhood that makes me so nervous for my own child? Will the anxiety fade like when I started giving him the freedom to play out in our street?

I honestly don’t know and I wish I had the answers. All I can hope is that it isn’t too much of a rough ride and that I’ve taught my boy enough about the world to make the right choices.

Any advice for this overprotective, anxiety ridden mother?

Check out Clare’s social media:
https://www.instagram.com/neonrainbow_sw/
https://twitter.com/neonrainbowblog
https://www.facebook.com/Neonrainbowblog/
https://uk.pinterest.com/neonrainbowblog/

Two Tiny Hands
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26 thoughts on “The anxiety of parenting…

  1. My children are now in their mid to late twenties and I still get anxious about them at times, it’s in the job spec.
    There is a fine line between holding on too tight and letting go too much. You sound as though you’re getting there. Your boy has been given, it seems all the right info about keeping safe and keeping in touch with you, now you have to trust him. He has so far shown he has listened and does follow all the rules so that’s brilliant it shows you are doing a great job.
    There will be times when as a teenager he pushes the boundaries but it’s normal, trust your instinct and loosen the boundaries as you feel he matures.
    As for bullying, well it doesn’t appear to have happened yet, but talk to him about the potential to meet bullies and how to cope with them, ask to see his new schools policy on bullying to make you feel more secure. Explain the relevant bits to your son.
    Enjoy him as he grows and develops, as someone much wiser than me said once, your children are only on loan they will one day fly the nest but if you give them the right freedom and respect along the way they will come back often and become your friend.
    Good luck

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I’m terrible for being overly anxious! Like really bad. I used to be worse, I wouldn’t go near the boating lakes because of all the ducks and geese. He goes with my mum now and I’m okay with that. I also worry when he touches normal nature stuff like mud and leaves. It’s so odd because he’s obviously going to be fine!

    #FamilyFun

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It doesn’t help that kids love to put stuff in their mouths all the time! I still catch my 5yo mouthing things and it freaks me out. I’m afraid he’s going to swallow one of the little magnetic letters that kids his age have!

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  3. No advice, just sympathy – I’ve always been anxious, and it’s only worse now that I’m a mum. I don’t think you ever stop worrying about your kids – I’m sure my mum still worries about me and I’m in my mid 30s! #FamilyFun

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In many ways, it’s helpful to know that other mum’s are anxious too. My son is also off to secondary school in September, involving all the ‘walking to school and back on his own’, worries, which is my biggest concern. However, it’s good to know I’m not the only one worrying, and you are ahead of me in confidence – my son doesn’t play out, or go to the shop alone yet – you’ve inspired me to let him try it (maybe – soonish)!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such an emotional post. I can easily see myself being in the same position, although my daughter is only 2 so I daren’t even think that far ahead. I do like the advice that Alison has given though. It’s a fine line between being cautious and passing on our own anxieties. I agree that he sounds like he’s a well behaved boy who has been taught the right morals and behaviours. Now he needs to learn. And when something does inevitably go wrong (hopefully nothing serious but we’ve all had to deal with upsets in our lives) that’s when he will learn and grow the most. All you can do is keep a gentle check on him and let him know you are there! Good luck! #FamilyFun

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Dear Clare, you have written such an honest post and I think you spoke many mother’s directly out of their hearts. As a teacher myself but also a mother who went through really a lot of tough times with my own child (she even ended up with a stomach ulcer from all the bullying and stopped learning) I realized something: we as mothers can unfortunately never protect our children completely and wherever they will go there will be always harm: bully from other children or even teacher, politics, unfairness, hormones, developmental issues, threats, etc.. We can try to make their world safe with burglar bars, dogs and alarm systems (I live in Namibia…. it is standard here.) but in the end – emotionally we cannot not protect them. BUT we can teach them that we will ALWAYS be there for them and embrace openly every problem they have, helping them by discussions and talking to find a solution by themselves. I changed schools, I moved, it didn’t help.. your child will get hurt. But from reading your post… I know your child will always have an amazing mother who will sit with him and listen to him and catch him when his heart is sore and show him he is safe at home. This is most importantly! You are doing a great job!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am also worried about you. I think there is no right answer to raising a child. Mother of three children from Korea

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  8. Sorry I don’t think I have any advice just done love for you. Being a mum is such an anxious ride and I can totally sympathise with the situations you have listed. I guess it will be hard at first but as you both find your stride and he settles in hopefully it will get easier for you. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun x

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Soy madre de una prepuber, ahora tiene 9 años he tratado de darle su espacio, de confiar en ella pero es algo difícil dejar esa costumbre de estar controlando cada cosa que haga, primero era el miedo que se caiga y lastime cuando aprendió a caminar recuerdo su primera caída, me dolió mas a mi que a ella, después de esa experiencia me dije esos golpes la preparan para la vida (aunque sean mínimos) aparte yo me aseguraba que no sufriera grandes daños lo único que podía hacer es levantar la y decirle que es parte de la vida caerse y levantarse una y mil veces sean necesarias. y ahora mientras escribo estas lineas me doy cuenta que no soy la única paranoica con respecto al cuidado de mi hija. Gracias por estas lineas, y me volví su seguidora.

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    1. I am a mother of a prepuber, now she is 9 years old I have tried to give her her space, to trust her but it is difficult to leave that habit of controlling everything she does, first was the fear that falls and hurt when learned to walk remember Her first fall, it hurt more to me than to her, after that experience I said those strokes prepare her for life (even if they are minimal) apart I made sure that I did not suffer great damage, the only thing I could do is lift it and tell her Which is part of life falling and rising one and a thousand times necessary. And now as I write these lines I realize that I’m not the only paranoid about my daughter’s care. Thank you for these lines, and I became your follower.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Rereading my opinion I realize that she expresses me wrong, about trusting my daughter, obviously I trusted her, what she meant is that she is a nine-year-old girl, she is still learning to live, she is easy to influence, although We his parents have talked about what is good and what is not, but that information is not 100% complete there are things that we can not tell you yet, and that paranoia that can see a person mentally unbalanced.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. releyendo mi opinión me doy cuenta que me expresa mal, en cuestión de confiar en mi hija, obvio que confió en ella, lo que quería decir es que es una niña de nueve años, aun esta aprendiendo a vivir, es fácil de influenciar, aunque nosotros sus padre le hemos hablado de lo que esta bien y de lo que no, pero esa información no es al 100% completa hay cosas que aun no le podemos decir, y esa paranoia que puede a ver una persona desequilibrada mentalmente.

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  10. I’m an anxious Mum too and my three girls are all over 11 now. In fact the eldest is away at university. It is hard because high school seems very far removed from you. Try and forge a good relationship with the school right from the start. Find out exactly who deals with what and then if there is an issue you know who to go to. Just take it one day at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. An honest emotional post. I too struggle with overprotecting and overthinking the “what ifs”. A good counsellor can help you walk through this with you , also trying an anxiety med so those things aren’t going thru your head . Speaking from experience here . Also be informed, talk to the school office , teachers, guidance counsellor and other parents in the same boat at your son’s school . This will also help you feel more at ease and let your son know that you are looking out for him, and trust you raised him right and will make good descions. Sometimes we have to let go and know they are in God’s hands and He is the Ultimate protector.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You’re totally not alone. I am the cautious mom over protecting my kids never letting them out playing on the streets unsupervised. My daughters are much younger mind, however I see other kids their age playing on the street. I may be over protective but better safe than sorry. I would never forgive myself if something happened to them. However I do feel my kids are less street wise than other kids and more accident prone because of my mummying them so much.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I wouldn’t worry about him too much, really he should be fine. Think about all the positives and the fun new experiences he’ll have and the friends he’ll make. School doesn’t have to be scary and worrying about him will not help him.

    Liked by 2 people

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