Obsessive Compulsive Parenting

09/01/2017 16:52

I am a mother to two boys aged five and six, I have always been told by other parents, family and people around me that boys are the easier sex to raise and that they give you far less worry than girls. I cannot say whether that is true as I will never be able to test the theory. However, I am genuinely concerned that I am totally mucking up something which is meant to be quite simple.

I am like so many other people: a relatively anxious person, one of life's worriers, a stress head (however you want to describe it!). I try not to project any of this onto my children and allow them the pleasure of not having to worry about every little thing and raise them to realise that actually some worrying can be massively detrimental to your health and wellbeing.

So you can imagine my concern when I have recently started to notice that one of my sons is also becoming a bit of a worrier. He has had a huge number of concerns recently and these mostly revolve around illness. He is massively worried about germs, to the point where if he feels that he has somehow been contaminated with some kind of germ that he can't get over it and we have to have a lengthy process of explanation on how the body works, how immunity builds up and that both good and bad bacteria exist.

Now I am worrying about my sons worrying so I did nothing more than schedule a meeting at his school to have a chat to them about my concerns at his anxieties. I also ordered a book aimed at children of his age about how the body works and how we can keep ourselves healthy. I then undertook some considerable reading on what is 'normal' at this age and whether I should be worrying at all. I discovered after speaking to many people, reading many articles and some confusing medical journals that actually the one with the issue was me and my bright, inquisitive five year old boy is simply learning about the world and asking questions surrounding it. For example how hard is it when a child is learning about insects and bugs at school to then get their head around a stomach bug and how it is not an actual insect upsetting their tummy! How can we expect them to not be concerned about germs when we warn against them on almost a daily basis and they are portrayed as scary looking monsters on all those adverts on the television for antibacterial wipes.

I am not for one minute saying that we shouldn't worry about our children and sadly I will never be able to say that I won't be a worrier anymore. However, I think it's important that as parents we acknowledge that we can't worry about every little thing, we need to allow our children the space and time to learn and address their concerns without us panicking and thinking we are doing a terrible job. We learned about the world from our parents who like anyone else are not perfect and they did a pretty good job so you will too.

When like me you become an Obsessive Compulsive about your Obsessive Compulsiveness it's time to stop, take a deep breath, look at the beautiful thing you made and have a chocolate biscuit. You are doing a fantastic job. You are doing your best and more importantly you care about your children. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, 'No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.'

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