On Sunday, the Humans of New York Instagram posted a story about a mother who opened up about how her anxiety has affected her parenting, and her fears about what she could have "passed on" to her children.
"You know how when you see a group of geese in a field, and there’s always one with its head up, looking around? That’s me," she said. "I was always afraid. Just anxious."
The unnamed woman called her mind a "heat-seeking missile" that was "always honing in on what could possibly go wrong."
"The best you can do is give your kids self-confidence," she said. "But I’m afraid I passed on my anxiety instead. Because when Mom is always afraid of the world, the world becomes something to fear."
And, sure, some of this does sound like textbook anxiety, and it has been suggested that kids who grow up with anxious parents may take on their anxiety. But it's hard to be a parent these days without experiencing at least some degree of worry — even if you haven't been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
These heavy-hearted sentiments may feel relatable to anyone out there trying to parent, amid daily news of mass shootings, terrorist attacks and other public trauma seemingly threatening our families. But even in light of an objectively hard year, it's important to not place blame for your own (or your child's) mental health issues. Talk about them, sure. Get help when it's needed, but anxiety isn't anyone's fault (nope, not even your mom's). Another way for this Human of New York to characterize her experience is that she is an incredibly empathetic person. Probably, for that exact reason, she's a very loving and present parent.
As one commenter on the Instagram post wrote, "You did the very best you could with what you knew at the time. There is no manual to be a parent."
If you are experiencing anxiety and are in need of crisis support, please call the Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline at 1-775-784-8090.
For more stories on our many paths to, through, or away from parenting, visit Mothership.
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