You know what’s terrifying about being a parent? Absolutely everything. (Especially for an anxiety-prone mama like me.)
I mean, let’s face it. There’s a whole lot to worry about. There’s the what you put in their bodies (boo white, yay green!). There’s the what you put on their bodies (do you know what’s in that stuff?). There’s the what comes out of their mouths (oh, the sass!). There’s the what comes out of your mouth (“good job” to them = bad job by you).
It seems everywhere I turn, there’s an article waiting to tell me that I’m doing it all wrong. That meal by meal, word by word, activity by activity, scold by scold I’m ruining three of the most precious things (to me) in the entire world — my kids.
The headlines go a little something like this…
21 Things You Say to Your Child That Are Crushing His Soul
10 Everyday Foods You Feed Your Family That Are Silent Killers
15 Reasons Your Child Won’t Ever Find Happiness
50 Pivotal Developmental Moments You Screwed Up: Birth to Preschool Edition
The Thing Your Child Does Every Day That Could Land Her in the ER (Or Worse)
If You Use The Descriptive Word Everyone Has Called You All Your Life, You’re a Bad Person/Mom/Woman
It’s a powerful, driving force — for us as parents, and content consumers. We see these threats and can’t help but click. We absolutely must know what it is that we’re doing wrong — because we’re pretty sure it’s an awful lot. We learn what not to feed our families. What not to let our kids do at summer camp. What not to say to girls, boys, pregnant women, non-pregnant women, working moms, stay-at-home moms, and everyone else in between.
And, yes, we worry just a little bit more each time.
Recently I was able to exit the fear cycle (ok, more like I was thrust out of it by an outrageous bout of laughter thanks to a blogger pitch), and I’ve started tuning out most of these headlines.
Let me start by saying I didn’t read beyond the intro (I couldn’t through the tears), so I have no idea who’s involved or working on this campaign. I’m only using this as an example, because the absurdity of it illustrates the point I’m trying to make beautifully.
Don’t EF-UP Your Kids
Top 20 Thought Leaders Teach You How to Not “Encourage Fear Upon” Your Kids
So, let me be sure I understand this correctly. Twenty thought leaders are going to scare me straight so I don’t do the same to my kids?
When you see it put that way, it seems utterly ridiculous, right? How can we, as parents, take in all this fear and negativity and have it not impact our relationship with our children? And their relationship with the world around them?
Don’t get me wrong. Parents should absolutely be educated on ways to talk to, teach, encourage, and connect with their children. Parents should know that there are dangers out there in the world, and that they can do things — within reason — to protect their family.
But writers, journalists, bloggers, can we please approach these topics from a place of love and encouragement, rather than fear and anxiety? (Empowering sites like The Mother Company and Common Sense Media are a couple of my favorites.)
Can we depend on words like “do”, “help”, “encourage”, “grow”, “engage”, and “dream” instead of “don’t”, “hurt”, “discourage”, “ban”, “avoid”, and “nightmare”?
And parents, can we stop clicking and sharing these types of articles to send the message that we have enough to worry about without this constant barrage of negativity?
Because I believe that if you ask every single parent out there why they do what they do for their kids, they’ll say it’s out of love. Let’s be sure we’re treating each other with that same kindness and encouragement. Then we can all feel a whole lot better as we watch the happy trickle down.