We all worry during the early back-to-school weeks. Is my child going to be ok? Are they going to have a good teacher? Are they going to make friends? Will they learn enough, or will they even be able to keep up? This is all normal back-to-school anxiety that is important to work through as a parent.
Just be aware that your child has their own back-to-school stressors that they are dealing with as well.
We all remember our own feelings of inadequacy, awkwardness and fears that are, unfortunately, just a part of growing up. Your role as a parent is to balance your own fears while simultaneously being the steadying force for your children.
And they say only superheroes wear capes!
How, as a parent, can you possibly balance your own back-to-school anxiety while at the same time being there for your child?
First and foremost, let’s get one thing straight…you are not alone in your back-to-school anxiety!
Every household has their “stuff” and you should never judge yourself or your familial stressors against a perception of what others are (or are not) going through. We all see how perfectly happy everyone else is through social media and from the five-minute interactions we have with them during drop-off.
It’s a daily challenge to realize that, for most of us, it just seems easier to confront our own daily struggles behind closed doors free from the judgement of others. So, we put our hair up, put on matching socks, and head out to tell everyone how amazing our weekend trip was and how little Johnny hit the farthest home run you’ve ever witnessed.
But what an opportunity missed.
The simple understanding that we are not alone in our back-to-school anxiety allows us to open up to other parents, our spouses, school faculty, neighbors, and the community as a whole to find not only solutions, but the comfort and peace of mind that we all seek.
The parents I feel more comfortable around and have been able to develop strong friendships with are the ones that I am honest with and who are honest with me.
The teachers that have reached out to help us during our own trials and tribulations are the ones we have communicated with openly and honestly without blame or excuses.
In short, those avenues of support that I rely upon daily have only opened up as a result of my ability to get over my fear of exposing our inadequacies as a family.
I’m not suggesting we don’t revel in our children’s accomplishments.
Sharing our happiness and achievements are part of what makes us who we are. It’s just that we can’t leave out the tantrums, the poor test scores, or the loss of a job when we are sharing. These are the things that make us HUMAN.
These are the things that allow us to find others who share in the craziness of this whole parenting thing.
Being honest about my back-to-school anxiety allows me to cheer on other families when they triumph and to feel true sadness when they don’t. We all know that person (often ourselves) who seems to find a little pleasure in other’s failures? That, I argue, is more a symptom of holding in our true feelings and anxieties and feeling somewhat relieved to know we aren’t alone.
Building these communal bonds with other like-minded folks allows me to come home and focus on the needs of my children.
It’s not that I don’t want children to know that mommies and daddies have concerns of their own; quite the opposite. However, I want to make sure that I don’t cloud the discussions we have about their lives with my own unresolved issues surrounding back-to-school anxiety. It allows me to listen and to empathize from a purely loving and supportive place.
So, as we begin a new school year, let’s bring the real us to the pick-up line.
Let’s share all about our son who is doing amazing in honors class but has trouble meeting new friends. Tell everyone about your daughter who got first place in her swim meet over the weekend but can’t keep up with her reading assignments.
You may just find that someone has a son who feels the same way as yours does and maybe a play date is in order. Like we did, you may find an amazing tutor that has assisted another family and becomes a game changer for your daughter.
You may just find…YOU ARE NOT ALONE!