So why on earth are school decisions so darn anxiety provoking? From preschool to college and in between, I keep running into people (including me) who are agonizing over finding just the right fit for their offspring.
It is rational to tell ourselves that of course he/she can try it for a bit and if it’s not working they can always switch. But that doesn’t take care of that nagging question: What if I make the wrong decision and my child suffers as a result? And because we can’t control for every contingency, it makes us want to hunker down and do just that.
Why is that?
I think it’s because it’s hard sometimes to separate out our own experience from our child’s. We love our kids so much that at times it seems like they are us. This isn’t a bad thing but it can cause us some heartache.
In their book, “Parenting from The Inside Out,” Mary Hartzell and Daniel J. Siegel offer a gentle approach for parents to wonder compassionately about the impact of their own upbringing and experiences. This manner of seeing one’s self can help bring some calming perspective to the fore.
For example, if Johnny’s upcoming high school decision feels like an ever-tightening vise around your neck it might be a good idea to get back in touch with your own high school story.
Find a way to release that pain by talking to someone you trust, writing it down, or going out or a run. Becoming more aware and creating space for yourself will allow you to let go of some of the anxiety about the decision.
Following this gentle course can be helpful because no one is asking you to change (unless you want to) just that you be curious and begin to notice more about what you are feeling.
Then, take a good look at your child because it could be that they are going to be absolutely fine. And if and when that changes, a less stressed out you will be available so them so the two of you can talk it over and explore what to do together.
A little about me
Like most of us, I wear many hats. In addition to being a therapist, (more about that below) I am also a mom of two school-aged kids, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend. I believe that we need to be kind to ourselves as we do the important job of parenting. Taking care of ourselves is the best investment we can make for us and for our family.
What do all those letters mean?
I am a licensed independent clinical social worker (LICSW) who works with parents in my NW DC private practice. I am also trained in family systems therapy which views each of us as individuals within our family system. What this means is that we are all doing the best we can and that we are affected by each other’s behavior. Understanding our own self within the context of our family (your current one and the one you grew up in) is the best way to effect change and ensure growth.