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Anxiety-Free vs Anxiety-Aware — Knowing the Difference in Parenting

Studies show anxiety among students keeps rising with more and more seeking help, with much of that anxiety passed down from anxious parenting.

And that is not to shame parents. The Bible speaks to anxiety for a reason, after all. One only needs to turn on the news to empathize with parents' worries in the light of disasters, diseases and challenges.

So what is a parent to do?

Be aware of your own anxiety.

Everyone feels anxious from time-to-time. Parents who are unaware of their own anxiety — either because they are simply oblivious or because they feel guilty about that possibility — are more at risk for parenting in a reactive way. Without realizing it, these anxiety-unaware parents then take their anxiety out on their child by behaving in ways that are over-pressuring or over-protecting.

Brené Brown, in her work The Gift of Imperfection noted the healthy people she studied were not "anxiety free" or "anxiety-averse." They are "anxiety-aware."

Emotionally healthy people are not free from their anxiety, but aware of it.

Becoming anxiety-aware
One way to become aware of anxiety, as discussed in our eBook, is to check in with yourself. After watching a disturbing news story or being with a group of hyper-competitive parents, ask yourself questions like:

  • "What is going on for me right now?"
  • "How am I feeling?"

Should you find yourself getting into super-parenting mode, pressuring your child to succeed or being overprotective, check in with yourself with questions such as:

  • "What am I feeling right now?"
  • "Am I signing up my child for yet another activity or class because it really is in her best interest or because I am so anxious about her future?"
  • "Am I intervening in this conflict with my son and his playground friend or coach because this is really an emergency that he cannot handle on his own or because I am afraid and want to protect him from ever having his feelings hurt?"

Together with the church-taught principles of meditating on Scripture, these practical applications can lend to your awareness and regulation of anxiety.