(Yeah, I know, it’s a title from a Mel Brooks movie…but it makes sense)
I learned a long time ago that kids can tell when something’s wrong. You can try and try and bury your fears and anxieties down inside yourself but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. When you are anxious, they’re anxious.
That’s the point of a segment that aired on NPR recently as well.
Coincidentally, the people in the article had a son named Noah as well.
The entire thing was about how their son had such terrible anxiety that the entire family was affected. In the end, though, the idea was that the efforts the family made to end their son’s anxiety was actually fueling his anxiety.
When I’ve had a bad day and things go wrong . . . the kids are just as anxious. They bounce off the walls. They go nuts, so to speak.
The kids’ mom suffered from anxiety. She had anxiety attacks, she worried a lot that she would get sick. In hindsight, it seems that my kids would go through the same things. Their stomachs would hurt. They’d have a sore throat, even when they really didn’t have sore throats.
It wasn’t just her, by the way. When I’d have a bad day or worry about the money we didn’t have or stress out the kids would be stressed out. Even today, the kids talk about how much things cost and worry about how much money we spend. (That doesn’t stop them from leaving all the lights on and wasting water, which actually costs me more, by the way. Working on that.)
The more anxious we are as parents the more anxious our kids become. This isn’t to say that our kids will end up with any flaws or problems that we perceive in ourselves. It means that if we have deep anxieties we sometimes seat them in our own children. If you constantly run around thinking whatever disease you see on the internet you’ve contracted your kids will suddenly be sick on a regular basis.
I noticed, just a few months after my wife passed away, that I began to take on more responsibility. I had to be decisive, without having another person to bounce ideas off, and that meant I was also more confident. That confidence meant that I appeared, even if I wasn’t sure of myself, like I was in control of things. Our lives didn’t seem to be spiraling out of control.
For the first time in a long time my kid seem to feel stable. I don’t feel as anxious. My kids, who all had a hard time adjusting, now seem to live their daily lives without concern or worry. I came to realize that their difficulty in adjusting was also my difficulty.
My father always said kids are smarter than we given them credit for, they’re just not as experienced. He’s been proven correct on so many occasions.
No more high anxiety in our home. If the last three years has proven anything, it’s that we seem to be able to shoulder things that come our way. Not because we’re that good, but because we’re stronger together than when we’re apart.