Dealing with Anxiety, Drama, and Intensity in Our Homes
I mentioned something in one of my last posts about how our perception of something affects how our children view it. And yesterday, I was spending time with a dear friend, catching up on her family. Her daughter recently had a baby, and we were discussing how relaxed this little one was. He was a sweet little boy, very happy and easy-going. Now, this got me thinking… We all like the idea of a child who is easy to care for, always happy and very relaxed. But, of course, our little ones arrive with a fully functioning personality that doesn’t take much time to show itself. Believe me, I know.
Some of my children came into the world in a cloud of peacefulness and joy, while one of them came into it, though very happy, quite intense, challenging everything that came his way.
Now I’m not going to focus on children’s personalities. Much of that is an inherent part of them.
But as moms, we do have an opportunity to create an environment where they are able to learn to handle things around them in a much easier way.
For example, imagine when a toddler is trying to take his first steps. He slowly pulls himself up, swaying back and forth a bit until he gets his bearings. Then he lets go of his support and tries to lift his foot as he toddles forward a bit. Next, the inevitable happens…he plops down on his bottom. That next moment is a critical one. Once he hits the floor, he is gauging his circumstances. He looks to you to see your facial expression. He listens for the tone of your voice to get a clue as to how he should react to this predicament.
If you smile and sweetly say, “You’re OK. You’re fine! Let’s get up again.” He very likely will begin to smile, too, comforted because you are fine with what just happened.
But, on the other hand, if you have a scared or upset expression and respond with, “Oh no! You fell down! Are you hurt? Oh, my poor baby!!!," you can guess his response to that one. Yep. He will begin to cry, and eventually learn that he should cry every time he falls.
Now, I’m not advocating a stoic face even if your child is hurt. But can you see how our children look to us for clues to how to react in situations? They watch and learn from us to see if they should be apprehensive, fearful, or easily agitated.
I know some young moms who are very relaxed in their parenting. If they don’t know what to do in a situation, they calmly ask questions, trying not to show extreme emotions for the sake of their children. And their children seem to be pretty mellow when it comes to expressing their needs.
Yet some moms I know face great fear of the unknown, great fear of being unable to control the many situations of parenthood. So they face many situations with anxiety and nervousness. And their children can pick that up.
Don’t get me wrong here. I knew NOTHING about raising children when we had our first baby. I had done very little babysitting and was not around kids for most of my growing up years. And my husband and I were one of the first in our little circle of married friends who had had a baby. So I had nothing to build on. Few to ask. My mother was a great help for many things. But I really wanted peers who could come alongside me and we could walk together. In the days before the hyper-connected-ness of the internet and other social media, there was very little available for us. And, yes, I was nervous and a little scared.
But I am grateful for a few women who spoke into my life, modeling a gentle spirit. They encouraged me to lean on my Lord and trust that He knew what He was doing when he gave me this little life to be a mother to. He gave me His word which was full of wisdom. I had to believe that He knew what He was doing, because He is omniscient. How could I say I knew better?
So I openly embraced this parenting thing. I struggled with it sometimes, but I purposed to give my apprehension to my Lord, and not worry if I would be ruining these little lives that were now in our household. Each day, I prayed for wisdom and did my best. And I tried to exhibit that to my children. I tried to show them that, though I didn’t think that I had it all together, I knew that our God did. And that gave me peace. They could also have peace in their hearts, knowing that their Heavenly Father was in control.
I think that is what helped me to drop the constant worry and anxiety that came into my mind. It helped set a more peaceful tone over our home, and I think that is part of what helped our children to walk through their days without as much drama or intensity.
Now, that doesn’t mean we didn’t have drama and intensity in our days. There was crying, discipline, struggles, and lots of stress. But I tried to call on the Lord daily for His strength through it. As I read my Bible, I was able to regain my focus and get right perspective as I approached the day. It gave me a peace in my heart that helped me to face the definitely un-peaceful moments in our lives.
The more I made it a habit in my day, the easier it was to navigate those stressful times and exhibit that heart of peace to my children.
I don’t have it all together. I don’t.
But I know where to go. And I purposed to keep going there. On my knees, praying. In my mind, reading. And in my heart, meditating on His truth.
Keep going, sweet friends. God gave you your children because He knew YOU would be the best ones to raise them. He will equip you and give you peace as you do it!