My mother would have turned 88 this week. In 1962 our family of 9 moved into a two bedroom house, which she resided in up until her death. 50 years later, I live and work walking distance from that little house.
My mom worried about her children. I can only imagine how she worried when we moved into that house because there was no money for rent at our previous place; or when Dad was laid off from his construction job at Christmas time; or when he was fired for his drinking.
Through most of my adult life her worrying continued. “You look tired.” “You work too much.” “Are you taking care of yourself?” Remarkably, this worrying came from the mother of 8 with only had an eighth grade education and who walked to and from a low wage job at the nursing home so she could provide for her children.
Parents worry. When we divorce, our worry for our children magnifies: the separation of their parents, a move away from the family home, less money, less time with us…the list goes on. I had all of these worries for my children when their father and I divorced.
Statistics about the long-term impact of divorce on children can frighten us. It’s important to look beyond the numbers because the analysis is extraordinarily complex. High conflict between parents, addiction, domestic violence, and the involvement of parents in a child’s life all play a role. Other factors such as genetics and the choices the child makes as a young adult impact those numbers too.
Still, we can’t seem to help but worry. It can exhaust us, deplete us, and rob us of precious energy. Much of our worry is about that which we cannot control, like the behavior of the other spouse or the need to live in two households. There are many places we can focus if we take some of that “worry energy” and redirect it toward the aspects of our children’s lives that we can contribute to.
We can increase positive communication with the other parent. We can make sure the time spent with our children is quality time. We can use our creativity to make our dollars stretch farther. We can take care of ourselves so we can be the best for our children. We can laugh with them instead of working on that furrow in the middle of our forehead.
Our worry comes out of our deepest place of concern and love for our children. If we can remember this, we can choose to examine our worrisome thoughts. We can ask ourselves if we are worrying about something beyond our control and whether our worrying truly serves our child. Let the answers to these questions guide you. Then take an action that truly demonstrates your love and concern for your child.
You already know how to do this. It’s nothing to worry about.