When Parenting Fears Overwhelm
I’ll never forget the stress I felt about miscarriage when I was pregnant.
Every day I worried the pregnancy might end. I remember counting down the days to when I’d be past the first trimester, longing for it to come. I was sure once I made it past that date, my worries would be over, as miscarriages are statistically less likely past the first trimester. ‘How wonderful it will be to finally relax and enjoy this pregnancy!’ I thought. I remember that long awaited day coming and going and being shocked by the anxiety that remained. ‘But wait, if I lost the baby now that would be devastating too!’ I realized. Perhaps once the pregnancy was over and the baby was born, then my worries would be over? But only 14 weeks pregnant, I could already imagine the new fears that would arise after baby was born.
This was my first taste of the fear and anxiety that can come so easily. As parents, we’re tasked with keeping this small human alive—this small human that is one of the most precious people in all the world to us. And you quickly realize how scary the world can be. These fears don’t stop at physical safety. They can also be about your child’s quality of life and the many facets that can affect it. And each stage of your child’s life can bring about a new set of worries. So how do we cope with these fears?
First of all, if your fears or anxieties are impacting your daily life—however that may look for you—it’s always a good idea to visit with a mental health professional. A professional can help you find the best way to navigate your worries in a solution best fit for you.
In addition to professional help, there are some strategies you can use as much as you need to help move past the feeling of fear:
Focus on the moment. Activate your senses to ground yourself to where you are now. What can you smell? What can you feel? What can you hear? Try to move your thoughts from your worries about the future or past into the present. What are you grateful for in this moment? Try to proceed one mindful moment at a time.
When you’re feeling anxious, take a moment to take some deep, intentional breaths. There are many specific breathing techniques you can try. There are also podcasts and apps, like Breath2Relax and Prana Breath, that can help guide you through the practice.
Look at the flip side…
As a kid, I was extremely fearful of house fires. I don’t know what exactly made me so scared, but I was. My mom would always reassure me by saying “I’ve lived for 38 years and I’ve never known anyone who’s house burned down.” Do the same for yourself and flip your fear into a reassurance, based on odds. When I was mentally consumed by fear of miscarriage, I often looked at the daily odds of miscarriage. Instead of focusing on the negative number (I’m 12% likely to have a miscarriage at this point), I tried to flip it to a more reassuring number (I’m 88% likely to NOT have a miscarriage. The odds are in my favor.)
Talk to a friend
It’s reassuring to know you’re not be alone in your thoughts. Find a friend you trust and share your worries with them. Having someone empathize with your fears can offer relief, and you may even find you’re not the only one who has those concerns.
Parenting can be delightful, but it can also come with its own special serving of worry. If you’re finding yourself with fearful thoughts sneaking up on you, know that you’re not alone.
We’re here for you and rooting you on. You’ve got this parenting thing. 😍