Fill in the blank above with the thing that’s stressing you out right now about raising your kid. You know, that thing that’s nagging at you. It’s been keeping you up at night with worry. If your child is a toddler, you’re fretting about the temper tantrums, the sleep schedule, or the adjustment to a new baby in the family. Or if you’re parenting a school-aged child, you’re concerned about those reading skills or that social adjustment.
For parents of teens and young adults, it’s the belly button ring, the fender bender, the college essay, or the boyfriend/girlfriend calling after midnight.
Whatever goes in that blank for you, it might feel like the end of the world. It might feel like, “If we don’t work this out, this child won’t be normal.” Or “If my kid goes forth down this path, his/her life is never going to turn out well.”
But you’re probably wrong.
If you’re worrying about your kids, guess what? You’re probably a pretty good parent. Worrying is a sign you take your parenting job seriously. So, good work! As children grow up stage-by-stage, parents are constantly encountering changes in our job descriptions. It’s natural to feel uncertain, even worried. But most of the time, the things we worry about turn out just fine.
Worrying probably won’t help you solve any problems. In fact, it might create a few extra problems for you. Worrying can make parents hover over the crib of a sleeping infant wondering why she’s not falling asleep, and thus inadvertently make it harder for her to sleep naturally. Worrying can take parents up to the elementary school where they argue with teachers over standardized test scores. Or back at home worrying can make parents fuss at kids who feel too tired to review the spelling words one more time before bed. Worrying can make parents hold a college drop out at home until he proves he is a grown up, rather than allowing him to stumble and fall (and learn) on his own out in the world.
In the end, your only goal as a parent is to launch a functional adult.
Functional adults have weathered tantrums, peer problems, failing grades, had tattoos removed, and have driven around in dented cars. When they are young, even the most functional adults make mistakes, and your kid is bound to make a few before leaving home.
Tolerate the mistakes- yours when they are young, and theirs when they are older. Understand the road is bumpy. Courageously relinquish control.