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Battling Fear and Anxiety: How it affects our families

February 10, 2020

I am worrier. Especially when it comes to my kids. I am not proud of it. In fact, I hate this about myself.  

 

Sadly, when my kids were really young, I was the mom who rarely left her kids with a sitter or let them ride in a car with anyone. To be honest, I've even worried when Mike's left the house with them. He's their dad, safest person you will ever meet, but still, I have always over-worried about them, especially when they are leaving me, no matter who was taking them somewhere. 

 

I can remember him saying he was going to take them all out, give me a break, and then at the last minute, I'd hop in the van, too afraid of something happening to them without me. 

 

When Lilly was younger, I would freak out when it came time for summer camp. I remember seeing this episode of 20/20 when I was a kid about shooter going onto a youth campground, and it has always stuck in the back of my mind.nPlus, there are plenty of other fears. There is always water at camp, and water can be dangerous, right? Never mind the fact that they always had swim lesson every summer! And because I used to get homesick, I'd always be afraid they get homesick.  All the fears, unfortunately, I have had.   

 

Thankfully, Mike never let me get away with keeping them home because I was scared something would happen to them. He is not a fearful person, so he'd always go online, pay the dues, fill out the forms, and sign them up, me kinda freaking out in the background. So desperately wanting them to have these great experiences and memories, but still, always kinda wanting to just say NO so that I didn't have to worry about them. Selfish, on my part, I know.  

 

Anywho, this year, after several years of her going to summer church camp, she came home and asked if she could go to Walt Disney World on a 7th grade field trip. Through the years, I have gotten a grip on some of my fears, and I knew Mike would say "yes" regardless of what I said, so I was prepared to let her go.   

 

Until, she said, "we are free to roam the parks with our friends, only needing to do "selfie check-ins" with their phones." I had just assumed they'd stick with a grown-up the whole time, but I was wrong.  Of course there were plenty of teachers and principals there in the parks with them, just not holding their hand like I am used to with elementary school. They would have to go to a few classes at Disney with their teachers, but they were mostly free to be out and about with a friend or group of friends, NEVER alone.  Then at dinner one night, she happened to say that her favorite teacher, who wasn't going on the trip, thought that the trip was a bad idea for "middle school kids."  And you know what I thought. OH MY GOODNESS!  Have we lost our minds?!?!?!  If "ONE" of the teachers thinks it's a bad idea, it HAS to be a bad idea.  Never mind that I had gone to parent meetings where several teachers assured us that they had been doing this for years and that they had never had trouble with the trip. 

 

After she told us her one teachers thinking,  all the worst case scenario situation played out in my mind.  What if bad/dangerous people are there????  What if the bus wrecks???  What if someone kidnaps her? What if she gets sick??? Lost???  Loses her phone???   Etc. Etc.  Etc.  She shared that at the dinner table and I could see Mike giving her the side-eye and shushing her.  Tears welled up in my eyes.  And fear tried SO hard to get the best of me!  

 

"She is going to be fine.  She is going to have so much fun.  She is going to learn so much.  She's going."  

 

And she did!  And she's home.  And she had a blast!  She learned how to use a map and helped navigate her friends around the parks.  She had to budget her money and her time.  She had to do her check-ins and meet up where she was supposed to with her teachers.  (None of which she did perfectly!  She was late for a check in because she didn't have cell service, or so she claimed, and she spent nearly every dollar we gave her, (which was way more than enough) she did actually lose her phone while she was shopping for her siblings, but thankfully, someone found it and turned it in to guest survices and she said it's a LOT HARDER getting around Disney without a grown-up.) It was very much a learning, growing, problem-solving - stretching experience for her. 

 

But she did it.  And loved it! And I did it!  Ha! And I love that she had this experience. And unlike her early days of going to summer church camp, I didn't lose a minute of sleep. Once I dropped her off at 5:15am, I felt so calm and peaceful about it. It helped that she had my old phone, so I could call or text or if I needed to.  

 

Isn't it funny how we kinda grow up along side our kids! 

 

Last week I listened to a podcast about fear.  Which made me think of myself and letting Lilly go to camp and camp and camp, and then eventually, Disney World as a 13 year old. She said we don't conquer our fears by avoiding them. Sometimes we have to do things that scare us, or worry us, over and over and over again, until eventually, they become less scary. 

 

It is true for me.  Through lots of prayer, (and Mike insisting my fear not control us)  I am learning how to handle my own fears.  By doing the things that we are scared to death to do, over and over again, fear eventually loses its grip on us.  Each year, as she has gone  away to camp, or this time a 3 day field trip, I have learned to face this fear head on.

 

 I still have the FEARS!!!  Oh, yes!!!  They still attack me. They come at me like swords. The worst case scenarios, the what-ifs still pop into my head. Now I can tell myself, those fears are possible, but NOT likely, and move forward.  I can have peace and feel calm.  I can sleep. I can go about my days without them under my feet.  

 

I also have to remind myself, bad things can happen anytime, anywhere, even with me.  Remember how Lukey had the seizure right at my kitchen table??? 

 

FEAR/ANXIETY/WORRY is definitely THE thorn in my flesh.  I think it may always be.  I think I will always have to face it. 

 

But I am encouraging you, if fear is your thorn, BE BRAVE!!! Find people in your life who have your best interest in mind, and encourage you to face your fears! Don't let satan rob you and your kids of living life to the fullest.  Of course, we can not and should not say YES to everything.  We should definitely make wise decisions for our children.  Listen closely for the Holy Spirit to guide us, TRUST YOUR GUT, but if you are like me and your initial answer to everything where risk is involved is NO, then you may, like me, need some coaxing to smash some fears in the face.  

 

If fear isn't your thorn, but you know someone whose it is, be gentle with them.  Saying, "Oh, don't worry! or That's silly to worry" isn't really helpful.  NO ONE wants to be fearful. No one would choose that! What you can say is, "I see why you would be hesitant.  I see why you might want to say no.  You have really good reasons!  But, do you think your fears are likely to come true?  Does your worst case scenario thinking normally happen, or is it a very slim chance?   Will you later regret saying no?  Could this be an amazing opportunity for you or your spouse or your child that you are passing up? 

 

Help them think through all the options.  If they still say no, that's okay.  Everyone is entitled to NO for an answer. 

 

But consider being a YES mom or dad. At least sometimes. It is always so hard at first, but I promise, it gets easier and easier. As you get braver and braver, their opportunities get bigger and bigger, so start saying YES! to some things while they are young! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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