Addressing anxiety in your parenting can be difficult. But there are ways to practically and appropriately manage your anxiety and stress to serve and love your family well.
Anxiety is not easy to manage. It tends to spill into all aspects of the day. I love this question because you are recognizing the negative impact anxiety inside of you can have on others around you and on your ability to be present with them.
Stress, which is a given as a parent, can create an even more anxious response to a life that already feels somewhat out of control because of ongoing anxious feelings. Your goal will be to have a flexible mindset that considers multiple possible perspectives to moments and situations. Anxiety creates a rigid and inflexible mind that usually predicts the worst in order to avoid loss, pain, or embarrassment.
Tips for a Flexible Mindset and Giving Your Nerves a Rest:
- Seek perspective from people that are less anxious than you. You want to help your mind consider other potential storylines.
- Consider what growth and resilience could be built through failure, pain, imperfection, and a freedom to explore and trust.
- Explore your children’s perspectives. Instead of immediately saying “no” or becoming impatient while you’re stressed. Ask the questions, “what is it like to be with me and what would I love that experience to be for my kids?” “what my kid’s behaviors and emotions tell me about who they are?” Be a thought detective in order to learn more about their perceptions and what they from you as far as guidance rather than protection.
- Let go of some things. There is a likelihood that you’re trying to control almost everything and that can feel absolutely overwhelming! Figure out what you need to control and what you need to loosen up on in order to maintain your sanity. It is helpful to do this with the help of a counselor or trusted friend.
What Does the Bible Say about Parenting with Anxiety?
One of most common and popular bible verses about anxiety is Philippians 4:6. The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
On its own, this verse can be discouraging to those who struggle with anxiety. It can read like we’re simply told to stop being anxious, pray instead, and all the worries will disappear. For anyone who struggling with anxiety, this can be a deflating message.
However, Paul’s thought continues beyond this verse: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul encourages us towards peace that comes from God, not from ourselves or our world.
In other words, the ability stop being anxious is not something we can do because of ourselves. Instead, relief from anxiety and worry comes from a reliance on something outside of ourselves: letting go of control, using our discernment for guiding our family, and trusting God through untrustworthy feelings.
Parenting is messy. Anxiety plus parenting can be even messier. But trying to be the perfect parent isn’t the solution. Building a home founded on grace and gratitude can help transform the culture in your family. Challenge yourself to look for ways to be grateful for the small joys in parenting. Remember, your kids aren’t looking for you to be perfect. They want you to be present, interested in them, and effectively guiding them with grace and understanding.
Explore how you can approach anxiety in your parenting to be purposeful for your family and yourself.
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