With the eruption of social media, not only are we always plugged into the world around us but we’re also living in a constant state of information overload. Sometimes this can be super helpful, and other times it is a huge source of anxiety. You want information on virtually any topic and it’s out there for you, just waiting to be read. This is especially true for all things parenting.
Parenting struggles are no longer locked in a secret vault that only opens when you actually take the plunge. With this newfound transparency, couples have a multitude of things to prepare for and consider before they decide to have a child. More often than not, this information overload turns into anxiety, panic, and some serious indecisiveness. As a couple’s therapist, I have seen a lot of similar themes wrapped up in the parenting dilemma, and they look a lot like this:
I’m afraid I’ll screw up my kids.
This is a totally legitimate worry, especially if you endured a difficult childhood. Maybe the wounds from your past creep up on you every now and then and convince you that you will make the same mistakes your parents made. The first step here is to come to terms with this very real fact: that you WILL make mistakes.
Sometimes truly accepting that is the best medicine. But more than that, your worry is telling you a very important truth: that you care so much about doing it right. Something you can do is make concrete efforts to work through your wounds so that you can step into parenthood without trying to fulfill everything you missed out on.
I’ll lose my identity.
Ok, this is a loaded one but super important. Becoming a parent is no doubt life changing and you may at some points feel your world has turned upside down. But your identity hasn’t been lost, it has been fine tuned. In fact, you may learn elements about yourself that you wouldn’t have been able to see otherwise. Parenting is not about giving up who you are; its about solidifying that identity so your child can learn to do the same.
It’s too much work.
We all know the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, and that applies here. Anything that is meaningful in life takes work, and raising children is no different. Some days you’ll want to pull your hair out, but there are also the other days when you see the product of your time, love and sacrifice. You’ll be proud of the “work” you put in and feel an immense sense of accomplishment. There is nothing like watching your child finally grasp a lesson you have worked so hard to teach. The journey is work but its worth it.
Having kids will ruin my marriage.
With alarming divorce rate statistics, this might be a real concern for you. Adding a child to the mix does change your dynamic but it doesn’t have to ruin it. Keep in mind that making your relationship first priority will by default benefit your child. In fact, your child depends on you making your marriage a priority. When you think about it that way, having a child is pretty great incentive for putting your relationship first.
Next time you are tempted to let fear take the drivers seat, I encourage you to stop, look, and listen. Your fear is trying to tell you something and once you look it square in the eye and work through it, you can start making decisions out of confidence. If you find yourself overwhelmed at all the ways your life will change once you become a parent, remember that change produces growth and who better to grow with than your partner!