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  • Steven Robinson
    Steven Robinson

    Exploring the Anxiety-Inducing Impacts of Parents' Loss of Control

    Unexpected events can be especially difficult for parents and caregivers, as their sense of security is often greatly disrupted. The feeling of loss of control in these situations can be a major stressor, leading to an increase in anxiety. Unfortunately, when these anxieties are ignored or unaddressed, the negative implications can extend beyond the individual and affect their children, too.

    The power that most parents and caretakers possess over their family lives, combined with our natural concern to help others and take responsibility, often leads us to want to control every aspect of our lives. We develop plans and expectations which we hope we, or our children, can manage, so that life feels predictable and secure. When these expectations are disrupted or change suddenly, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and out of control. External events such as job loss, changes in financial circumstances, health issues, or changes in platonic or romantic relationships can all upend our sense of control, leading to increased levels of anxiety and even depression.

    When parents experience these sudden losses and changes, these heightened anxieties can trickle down to their children. If the parents are unable to recognize their own anxiety and find ways to address it, the children may take on the same burden. Children may begin feeling anxious and fear they have no control over their lives or futures. They may even start displaying signs of depression – unexplained sadness, lack of motivation, difficulty sleeping, tiredness and generally withdrawal. If left unchecked, this downward spiral can worsen and grow into much more serious symptoms.

    The prominent theme found in both research does and first-person accounts shows that when parental anxiety is managed and addressed, children often feel far more comfortable facing life's inevitable surprises and changes. When presented with examples of how their parents overcame stressful times, and the constructive impacts of doing so, such as feeling empowered and expanding their ability to cope, children can learn valuable lessons which they too can apply to their own lives.

    It's also important to remember that when unexpected events disrupt our lives, we are not alone in our struggles, and that there are always resources available through counseling, support groups, and other social services to help. Being open and honest about the feelings of loss of control can help alleviate feelings of unease not just for ourselves, but our families as well. by addressing the ways anxiety can be mitigated, clinicians, educators, policy makers, and parents alike can work together to ensure our children grow up in an environment of mental wellbeing and emotional stability, allowing them to thrive in an ever changing world.

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