Even though Elizabeth G.’s son is only seven, she, like Esther, is already harbouring fears about his teenage years. “I rebelled as teenager,” she admits, “and I don’t want that for him. Fundamentally, I worry about failing as a mum. Am I teaching him the right values? I worry whether my advice is the best advice, whether I could do better. Am I or will I always be there for him?” Elizabeth admits that she also has an unfounded and irrational fear of losing her son.
CIRCLE OF MOTHERS
One of the ways Esther had alleviates her mothering worries is to allow her daughter to have ‘second mothers’. “They are more like mentors who she can go to with things she can’t talk to me about,” she says. “My mother, sister, cousin and one of her teachers have played this role.”
“Unfortunately, mothers can bring each other down,” Damaris laments. “I have had women ‘friends’ say that I am not worthy of being called a mother for whatever reasons. I have to stay away from such anxiety-inducing people. I set boundaries where the topic of my son with some people. I’d rather have one confidante to talk to about my fears. Some people will feed into your fears while others will help you gain perspective.”
HOW TO STOP WORRYING AND START MOTHERING
According to Robert L. Leahy, author of The Worry Cure, worrying feels a lot like trying to solve a problem, but it’s not. “Worry feels like it makes sense because it gives us the feeling of not overlooking anything and are therefore of being more responsible, but it rarely leads to solutions. Problem solving involves evaluation, a plan and action.”
To help weed out unnecessary fear, Leahy advises:
Evaluating the situation by asking oneself: how likely is this thing to happen (is it real or imagined)? If the problem is a ‘what if’ (e.g. what if my child gets abducted on his way to the shop tomorrow?), then the next question is:
How likely it is to happen, and what can be done to prepare for that eventuality? Is it out of anyone’s control? “The bottom line is to focus on the things you have the power to change, rather than what’s beyond your control,” Leahy writes.
“There’s enormous pressure to do everything right and this can be overwhelming,” says Dr. Paul Donahue, author of Parenting Without Fear. “Mothers focus on the big, bad things and internalise horror stories from others and media without thinking of the odds of them happening. The danger in doing this is that you can actually miss out on the ‘little’ but more important stuff that’s actually happening to your child.” m to:
Do less for their children and teach them to be more independent, but mindful. “Offer freedom by increment depending on the child’s maturity. Teach them necessary responsibility tactics like confidence and snap risk assessment, and encourage free talk with you. This goes a long way towards prevention from harm than hovering over them.”
• Stop worrying they are not conforming to society standards. This is not a genuine concern for the child’s wellbeing.