parent opinion

“My mum gave me anxiety and I’m begging other mothers not to do the same.”

It’s well known that from a young age we’re unintentionally conditioned to think and act in certain ways.

Psychologists will often tell us the root of all our problems is our upbringing, the way in which our parents and other family members interacted with us and the values they raised us with.

A truer observation could not be made about my own upbringing.

There are lifestyle changes you can make to help alleviate anxiety. Post continues are video. 

I love Mum, but there are traits she has passed down to me that I’d rather live without. Putting aside my thin hair and my ability to yoyo-diet like it’s going out of style, I’ve also been “blessed” with her anxiety.

It was something I didn’t realise I suffered from until a few years ago and it wasn’t until last year that I was told in kinder words than this, “it’s you mother’s fault you have anxiety.”

It’s obviously not all her fault. The situations I find myself in and a range of other factors also contribute, but I can’t help but notice that it’s her voice in the back of my mind that is constantly telling me to worry about what others would deem as “nothing”.

As a child, if I fell over and grazed my knee, I was told I should have known better. As a teenager I had to choose my friends “wisely” because the wrong friend could lead me down the wrong path and then what would my life become?

At university my mother’s catchphrase was “you never know what can happen”, but not in an exciting “grab every opportunity” kind of way, more like, you could cross the road and get hit by a car, kind of way.

It came alongside other phrases like, “you’re not studying enough,” “you’re not being social enough,” “you’re being too social,” “you’re not picking up enough shifts at work”.

As an adult I get told by my mum, “you don’t visit your mother enough, don’t you feel guilty?” and if that doesn’t work she’ll say something like, “it’s fine, don’t worry about visiting me, just wait until I get old and die.”

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"I can’t help but notice that it’s her voice in the back of my mind that is constantly telling me to worry." Image: Supplied.

They might seem like insignificant statements that any child, teen or adult could just brush off, but if you suffer from anxiety yourself, you know that mere words can in fact trigger your palms to sweat, your chest to tighten and your heart to start racing. All of a sudden you’re wondering what you’re even doing with your life. Is it enough? Am I enough?

Your inner child evolves from thinking, “you’re right, it’s my fault I fell down,” to “you’re right, it’s my fault I didn’t get that job. It’s my fault that relationship didn’t work out. It’s even my fault the car broke down.”

You become anxious about turning up to parties alone because, “what will people think of me when I step in that room? Am I overdressed? Am I underdressed? Am I going to attract too much attention, or not enough? What is the right amount of attention to attract? Maybe I just shouldn’t go”.

As I’ve grown older, along with this apparent need to be almost perfect, I have also realised I am constantly seeking validation from my parents. If it doesn’t come then my inner child’s voice cries out, “you’re not good enough”.

When I quit my full-time job last year to go freelance, it was a week before I told my mum what I had done. I was scared to tell her because I knew she’d be mad. I was taught to have a “steady job” to help keep me and my family on our feet. Quitting is failure and failure is not an option.

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Imagine that, as an adult, being scared to tell your mum about a decision you made for the good of your wellbeing.

I know my mother loves me and is proud of my achievements, occasionally she’ll tell me the latter but the love I know, is always flowing. It also took me a long time to realise that the reason she’s passed her anxieties on to me is because her mother did the same to her. For her it was a different version of “perfection” she needed to live up to, but her goal has always been the same.

On behalf of my mother and I, I’m begging other mothers not to pass your own anxieties down to your kids. Take notice of how you speak to your children and the expectations you place on their little shoulders.

Please, let them be kids, don’t blame them for what’s out of their control and always teach them that they can get back up when they fall, with the help of their parents.

What are some traits your parents passed onto you? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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