The parental worrying cycle

The parental worrying cycle

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MISSOURI, July 11, 2014 —Those who have raised children have all experienced this “worrying life cycle.”

It all starts with the pregnancy. The first creeping concern is for the health of the unborn baby. The future parent parent starts to think, “I hope the baby is okay.” Then there is the health of the mother, with the father starting to worry about her as well. How are you feeling? Are you walking? Are you taking your vitamins, what did the doctor say? And the list goes on and on. This is love in the form of concern and sometimes worry.

After the baby is born, the parents start worrying about how the child is developing. Despite the talk about “don’t compare” your child, parents check statistics and benchmarks. They keep track of when the child should be walking, eating solids, weight, height, and other vital statistics.

Dad is at work and here comes a call “Sam come home as Jr. just ran into a concrete wall, and we should take him to the doctor.” Dad rushes home, and everyone gets into the family car and off to the doctor who sees the family immediately. It is nothing major just a few stitches, and it’s all over with. As the parents are driving home, the worry is expressed about Jr’s ability to reach manhood without killing himself.

Now they have reached school age, and the parents attend a parent’s teacher meeting held in the classroom. The teacher tells you she has given your child the affectionate name of “sunshine” because he is very disruptive in class as he is consistently talking and being the “ambassador” of goodwill. The parents express concern as they see their child’s potential career path as one of a total disaster. The teacher replies, “don’t worry” as he is going through a growing up phase. The parents accept this but keep an eye on this aspect of his growth.

The next milestone is when you give the car keys to your child. This is the most challenging. Worry is all over the place. You have told your young man to be home at a certain time. The time is reached, and the driver is not home. Now anxiety attacks set in as the clock ticks. Fifteen minutes passes, half an hour passes and finally, the young adult strolls into the house totally unconcerned. Dad is up and in the face of the first-time driver who just violated the trust of being on time due to the event of a solo flight. The driver states that he was talking to a friend, and time escaped him. The parents now go into the lecture about the “worry” they had for their first-time  driver who they love so very much, and their minds had all types of disastrous scenarios running through their heads. Worry, Worry.

Even after children leave the nest, the worry continues. Parents remain concerned about their lives dealing with their frustrations and disappointment. Even though they are now married and have their own family, parents still worry. Visits often entail parental questions of are you feeling okay, is there something wrong and so forth.

Can it be that parents are sentenced to a lifetime of worry? Is a concern for one another handed down like a torch to blaze the trail of human frailties and the fears of the unknown? Is concern a curse? Or is it a virtue that elevates us to the highest form of life? This is part of the equation that is behind the word “love.”

The cycle comes full circle, with parents passing the worry to their children.

After all this worry, don’t be surprised when the day comes that as elderly parents, you stop for an unplanned lunch or a visit with a friend. You are enjoying your day, enjoying the company, unconcerned by time.

But when you arrive home, you find cars parked all over your driveway. Your daughter meets you at the door, hands on hips, and asks in a hysterical voice, “Where were you?” The son appears behind her, cell phone in hand, to admonish you that he was “just about to call the police.” The children are all very irritable, saying “Where were you guys?” and “We were worried,” and, of course, “Don’t do that again.”

The the parents stifle an internal smile, remembering the shadow of those previous conversations. They also appreciate the love from their children, and they know they passed on the legacy of worry to their children . The torch has been passed on so the story goes.


However, that’s from a time and place I am from-

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