Worrying About Your Kids is Unavoidable

little boy

Joy and excitement await you the moment a planned pregnancy or adoption become a reality. It doesn’t take very long, though, for happiness to be laced with worry. “How will I manage? Will the baby have ten fingers and ten toes? Will the birth go as planned?” For the next nine months, the pendulum swings from excitement and wonder about the miracle of life to fears about the awesome task of having and raising a child.

After the birth and relief of having a healthy baby (because worries multiply exponentially if the child isn’t healthy), you discover the worry about fingers and toes was just the beginning. The reasons parents worry varies, but worry is another emotion all parents wrestle with.

Babies give parents lots to worry about. Is she sleeping through the night and growing appropriately? Is she still breathing? Standing by the crib, you watch for the rhythmic up and down movements of her chest as she peacefully sleeps. You can hardly wait until he learns to crawl, but then you’ll worry what he’ll pick up off the floor. You’ll look forward to when he can walk, but worry that he’ll wander away.

Eventually, you get a handle on the ins and outs of baby care. The high fevers and relentless crying become less frightening, less overwhelming. Gradually, a kind of rhythm develops. But then, without warning, things change. And then they change again and again.

You’ll worry if they cry on their first day of school – hiding so they can’t see you secretly spying on them. You’ll really worry whenever your children are unhappy or sick, barely sleeping as you listen for their calls in the middle of the night.

Then their bodies change, their hormones rage, and they learn about sex. You’ll worry about their education, happiness, and who their friends are. You’ll worry about their using drugs, getting into the college of their choice, and finding a life-partner. You will eventually worry about their careers and their children, since there is no real endpoint to parenthood.

Seeing your children grow and mature is one of the great pleasures of parenting. However, you also know that unforeseeable things can happen. Your children won’t always do what’s right. They’ll think they’re invincible. They’ll fall down, get sick, and do all sorts of crazy unpredictable things. If worry is unavoidable, then what are you supposed to do about it?

Find a New Perspective

Asking for help may conjure up all sorts of negative images. Fear and shame about appearing weak may make it difficult to admit when you’re feeling overwhelmed or unsure. In an attempt to appear competent and in control, do you suffer in silence, angry with yourself for how you feel?

Instead:

  • Stay in the moment. Don’t make up something awful as though it’s going to happen.
  • If you’re going to make up an ending, why not think about how things could work out well.
  • Work toward accepting your feelings, even the uncomfortable ones.
  • Find someone to confide in.

Acknowledging your worries without over-reacting to them is a great goal, but it’s a difficult one. It’s not that you’ll feel indifferent. Stressful times will affect you and there’s no getting around that. Acceptance entails staying with your feelings without making them worse. It means loving and taking care of yourself, especially when you’re upset and worried. It means no matter how bad things get, somewhere deep inside, you know that you will figure out what you have to do next.

An accepting nature requires practice. Patience, compassion, and generosity with yourself and others are three ingredients that can help you attain it.

Loren Buckner HeadshotLoren Buckner, LCSW is a psychotherapist in Tampa, Florida. She is the author of ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life And How To Deal With Them.
Photo credit: A contre-jour / Foter / CC BY

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The Check for $3.96

sad womanHaving married a man with children, I soon learned the affects a stepfamily has on finances and child support topped the list in the Coleman household. Once the money was seized from my husband’s paycheck, his take-home earnings were $400 a month. Any increase is better than nothing, but $300 of his net pay went toward his monthly car payment. Doing the math, that left a meager $100 which was supposed to cover the increased expenses of adding another person to the already strained family budget.

The last submission I received for Blended Families An Anthology was from Sonya Visor. The title of her submission reverberated in my soul. Her story is captured below:

Grappled with the pending uncertainty, my leg shook under the table. In a few minutes, the court would decide which child would eat this week: our one-year-old son or my husband’s eleven-year-old son from a previous relationship. We waited as the magistrate left the courtroom to formulate his decision. Who would be first on the list?

The magistrate returned with the ruling—his oldest son will eat this week. At the final strike of the gavel, they left us with a check for $3.96. How were we going to make it? Who was going to provide for my son?

My husband had just started a new job and was out ill for three days the previous week. You guessed it; no sick time. So after taxes, insurance and the child support payment, we had a whopping $3.96 left for the son I birthed. The court decided for me who was first. Responsibility of provision was made for one son, but not the other.

I stared at the check with my mouth gaped open. I looked at my husband, then back at the check. Fear gripped me as I contemplated how we would make it until his next paycheck. My hands trembled without restraint. My leg shook with so much force that I banged my knee on the table.

A flood of emotions bombarded me. Foolish for getting into this predicament. Angry that an outsider dictated how our money would be spent. Hurt that my son would go without milk and diapers. Then nobility stepped in, but only for a moment. Because when I looked at my child, I knew that it wasn’t fair to rob him—to rob us of our weekly groceries. I knew that paying support was the right thing to do, but what consideration was made for Junior?

My husband of almost three years stood without saying a word. His wide-eyed gaze and hunched shoulders spoke volumes. A responsible man and father, the frustration overwhelmed him. He fell into the chair and ran his hands through his hair. He provided for one child that week, but they both depended on him. He looked up at me with fear in his eyes and then dropped his head. While he dealt with his issues, I had to deal with mine—trying not to hurt anyone.

After a while, I did what any daughter would do, I called my mother. That’s right; I called Mom and told her all about it. She listened to me and allowed me to vent. Even in my volatile emotional state, I didn’t want to share with my husband. I knew that my words would cause him more hurt and only serve to beat him down. He didn’t need or deserve the soured fruit of my lips. Was I trying to act like Mary Poppins? Of course not, remember I called my mother, sisters and my best girlfriend. I found out that my response was typical. Our tight budget was based on a little more than $3.96. We needed that money. God allowed me the time to be angry without sin, but He did not allow me to stay there and wallow in it.

I had a choice to make—resent the older son for the rest of my marriage or allow God to take full control of the situation. I didn’t want to hold a grudge against the child. Nor did I want to be responsible for driving a wedge between my husband and his son. His son was here to stay. My marriage was solid, and I wanted to keep it that way. So, I chose life. I changed my mind; it changed my actions.

How did I make the best of the situation? I prayed. I had to. I needed assurance. Reminded that someone outside of our relationship required my husband’s time and attention, required that I knew beyond any doubt he loved me. But to then be robbed of a week’s budget is another story in itself. Now you are messing with my money. To even say “robbed” isn’t fair, and I thank God that I have come a long way. I knew that my husband had a son before I said, “I do.” I knew from the beginning that this man loved his son. If he didn’t, I don’t think I would have had anything to do with him.

The day I received the smallest payroll check in my life, I realized what kind of woman I was. I know women who have dealt with a lot of unnecessary drama and have become very bitter over it. I understand. But what I cannot justify is taking the frustration out on the children. In our case, the biological mother did not initiate the proceedings, so I could not fault her for the cash-flow chaos either.

So after a couple of hours of pouting with my girls, I moved on. By doing so, the Lord provided for us and we didn’t miss a step. My mother purchased diapers and formula and my sister brought over a bag of groceries. We also received a check in the mail. I made a decision to not harbor any resentment against the young man. He didn’t get to pick his parents or his situation. I chose to marry my husband, and I accepted the package deal. I loved past the hurt. My husband and I both found out that love is an action word full of power. He pulled from my reaction knowing that we would make it through this transition. This hearing marked the beginning of building a bridge for us to walk across one plank at a time.

Valerie ColemanThe bestselling author of Blended Families An Anthology, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman has helped thousands of families navigate the challenges of child support, visitation, discipline and more. With over twenty years of experience in family and relationships, this expert has given advice on varying issues including baby-momma drama, defiant children and disapproving in-laws. On her journey to assist others with building strong families, she shares her personal testimony and practical tools to help you stop the stepfamily madness in your home! To learn more about Valerie, her books and overcoming relational matters, visit PenOfTheWriter.com.

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Problem Solving with Kids

sad girl

I just got a call from a frustrated friend. Her eight-year-old daughter Peggy refuses all her mother’s suggestions for lunch at school. Peggy doesn’t want to eat hot lunch; she hates sandwiches of all kinds, she doesn’t want to take meat rollups. Mother and daughter ended up yelling at each other, and Peggy stomped out […]

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Stepfamily Financial Resolutions—Part II

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In the previous article, I covered stepfamily financial matters including individual or joint accounts, credit, disinheriting biological children and social security benefits. Now let’s probe into child support and its affect on stepfamily money. Monthly Child Support. Support Determination In Blended Families An Anthology, Sonya Visor shared her child-support drama in The Check for $3.96. […]

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Stepfamily Financial Resolutions—Part I

finances

I believe with all my heart that a man who fathers a child is responsible for the emotional and financial need of that child. From debt incurred during the previous marriage, past due child support and the IRS seizure of income tax refunds, our first year as a stepfamily was inundated with fiery financial darts […]

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Wintery, Snowy Art Activities for a Cold Day

puffing snow

It’s crazy how cold it’s been outside! The kid’s are tired of being inside, both at home and at school.  As moms, we struggle with finding things for them to do other than video games or watching TV. JBF searched Pinterest and found some fun crafts to keep your kid’s hands busy and it doesn’t […]

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International Child-Centered Divorce Month in January Features Complimentary Gifts and Resources for Parents

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January is International Child-Centered Divorce Month. The entire month is dedicated to helping parents minimize the negative effects of divorce on children – by giving them the tools and resources they need to support their kids during and long after a divorce. Throughout January divorce attorneys, mediators, therapists, financial planners, coaches, parenting experts and other […]

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Quick Cakes for Emergency Occasions

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Certain events in our lives require us to take food to comfort or contribute to a life event; like a reunion, a funeral, or an illness.  My mom has a great cake that she calls her “funeral cake”.  I know it sounds tacky, but it is true. Our lives have gotten so hectic that sometimes […]

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Sensible Indulgences for a Frugal Mother

sensible indulgences

Sensible Indulgences, otherwise known as a few of my favorite things! It’s been busy around here, recently I discovered that my soon-to-be three year old poured non-dairy creamer into my Vera Bradley bag (a NICE Christmas gift from my sister), and it had dried and made a big mess.  Swim lessons start tomorrow, but when […]

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Cute January Birthday Gift Ideas

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  The holidays are over, but many of us have children with January birthdays.  Each year we’re scratching our heads trying to figure out a birthday gift for our little ones. We found some fun items on a website called BRIKA. It features the work of authentic makers, artisans and designers. It’s an online shopping experience […]

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Organizing Winter Gear

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I thought today would be a great time to make a quick inventory of what you may need for next winter season.  I don’t know about your house, but almost every hat, glove and pair of boots are drying out in my laundry room from sledding this weekend.  Since the kids (most of the kids) […]

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I Love Being a Frugal Mother

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As much as we would all like to believe that we live like characters in a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel where we sip champagne in one of our six country homes whilst we wait for the butler to announce lunch, I’m guessing that many of you are like me: stuck in reality.  Not that being […]

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6 Things To Do This Year

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With the year at an end – comes celebrations, quality time with friends and family. It’s a time that inevitably makes me reflect on the past year and think about new passions and ambitions for the New Year coming up. I thought I’d share with you some things that I feel we could all do […]

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Top 5 Sale Shopping Tips

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The holidays have finished, but the chaos at the malls and boutiques haven’t slowed down – in fact, many people say that come Christmas Day, real craziness begins! After Christmas sales have begun, parking lots are full, gifts are being returned, and bargain hunters are on the prowl. So for those of you that are […]

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