I am writing this for all parents because I found myself asking one of my children a question in my mind that, I realized afterwards, would only raise anxiety. Why would I want to do such a thing? When I thought about it, I realized that I was handing off my own anxiety and expecting them to fix it by changing something in their life.
As parents, we don’t realize the deep grooves we dig in our children by our attitudes. It might something like “nice girls don’t get angry” or worse, “how can you be such an idiot?” Whatever the attitude or belief, it can affect our children badly for a lifetime. As a therapist, I deal with this all the time, so much so that my intake asks people to describe their relationship with their mother and father right at the outset. It is a question that saves me a great deal of time.
In my case, I chose to deal with my own anxiety and not hand it off to someone else – certainly not my child! Unfortunately, many parents don’t know this. They have never learned the importance of screening what they say.
Screens are simply that second look or evaluation, asking ourselves: “will it help_____ to hear this? Is it kind? Will this add value to their life?”
If all parents simply took a few minutes to stop that thought from going to their mouth, and asked themselves whether this would be a helpful thing to say or not, a great deal of misery could be avoided. Once stopped, we can then deal with the issue ourselves by talking to a therapist or wise friend. There are so many ways to make ourselves feel better! We certainly do not need to pass on problems to our children.
Think “SCREEN!” the next time a thought of criticism comes to mind about one of your children. Usually they have greater wisdom than we do, hard as that may be to believe! Even if you cannot see it, they are struggling to do the best they can. Encouragement is always the better choice.