Here’s one I wish my mom did earlier on, TBH. She put a lot of
pressure on herself, I think, to make the house and home the epitome of
warmth, welcoming and, well, some version of perfection, even when she
was working full-time.
And it was great. My family hosted parties, we led the neighbourhood
Christmas carolling, we were one of the houses where all our friends
seemed to feel at home. Like I said, great, right?
But I think it took a toll on mom that I wasn’t even aware of until
we spoke about my anxiety later in life. She confided in me—and possibly
only me—that she, too, struggled with anxiety, including social
anxiety. She didn’t say the things she did were hard for her, but
looking back, I can see there were ways (not always the most healthy)
that she was compensating.
So moms, I say know yourself, be honest about your limitations, and
know they’re okay. Also know they’re okay to talk with your older kids
about. You are a human being worthy of self-care and protection, and I
think kids of the right age can roll with that. My 11-year-old
understands and is empathetic about my anxiety…and I tell ya, his hugs
when I need ’em go a long way.
In my opinion, one of the best things a parent can do is teach their
child to be empathetic, and part of that is acknowledging that, whatever
age, we’re all just humans doing our best.
As I alluded to above, when my children reached an age where I
believed they’d be able to understand, I shared with them about my
anxiety, explaining that I worry more than most people and that the
worrying can sometimes get me down.
I talked to them about it not just to explain some of my behaviours,
but to show them that no one’s life is trouble-free—everyone we meet is
experiencing life in their unique way, and if we can do our best to
understand where they’re coming from and what they’re feeling, we’ll be
able to connect with them in a positive, caring way.