We all worry as parents.
It comes with the job.
There are three things I’ve noticed about parenting worries.
First, small kids give you small worries and big kids can provide big worries. Hmmm! That maybe a little scary but you’ll be ready to cope when your kids are older.
Second, parents always seem to be concerned about one child at a time. You fix one child up and then suddenly another one presents with an issue or concern. Doh! That’s the way of family-life.
Third, the bigger the family the less parents worry about individual kids. Concerns tend to be about the family, or the kids in general, in bigger families.
Lately, I’m finding parents worrying about stuff (kid’s behaviour, learning, confidence levels) that they shouldn’t really be concerned about. In many cases, maturity will solve many issues.
Also for many kids, what’s a problem today is forgotten tomorrow yet we adults tend to hang on longer to kids’ problems long after they have given up caring.
I can’t advise you about what you should worry about as a parent. That’s your prerogative. But I think there are times when it’s not worth worrying too much.
It’s not worth worrying when:
1. A child’s misbehaviour fits into the normal behavioural range. A mum worried recently that her just turned three year old wouldn’t leave her alone when she was on the phone. I couldn’t help thinking that was fairly normal! Another mum was worried that her four year old may have some problems as he was checking out the genitalia of a mate. Nope, that’s pretty natural curiosity for that age group. Working out what’s normal is a challenge for inexperienced parents.
2. A child is moving from one stage to the next. Kids get ‘kinder mouth’; boys can give mum a hard-time at five and again in early adolescence; some girls develop an ‘attitude at seven, and again at thirteen; boys vocabularies shrink to three words in early teens; and fourteen year girls will often have little time for the dads. These behaviours are indicative of different stages of development. Annoying yes, but not always worrying!
3. A child is displaying an independent streak. Sometimes kids put their foot down and say “NO I’m not trying at that sport anymore because I don’t enjoy it”. They not do the things that you wanted them to do because it was good for them or so you thought. A show of independence is usually a healthy thing, but it can be difficult for parents to swallow.
4. A child struggles periodically at school either socially or academically. The ups and downs of growing up mean that kids don’t always learn on an even trajectory. They have good years and bad years at school. They also have good years and bad years socially. That is, they have years where they sit next to their best friends and have a ball. And other years finding and keeping friends can be a little tougher. Helping kids ride the lows and the highs is part of the parenting job. Sometimes we worry at the first sign of a problem. Time and children themselves solve many problems when they get the chance.
Parents of first and second borns tend to worry over different things than parents of later borns. I suspect that a little bit of experience gives you some perspective, and helps you work out what’s a real concern, and what’s typically a stage they are going through.
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