Thursday, June 01, 2006

Parenting Anxiety by Sharon Hinck

Parenting Anxiety by Sharon Hinck

My grandma used to talk to be about how difficult parenting was in her day. She had a point. She lived in Latvia during World War II and endured both a Communist and then a Nazi occupation, an escape across the Baltic, and five years in a displaced person’s camp. Parenting was all about survival.

True, my friends and I who are young parents today in the U.S. don’t have bombs exploding nearby or tanks rolling across our farms. We don’t have to worry about how far we can stretch our cabbage soup for the day. But we face some insidious battlegrounds of our own. We are invaded by daily doses of Parent Anxiety.

In our over-achieving, more-more-more culture, I feel swept into directions I don’t want to go. Even friends who share my values are rushing their children from baseball games to basketball leagues to play practices and music lessons. Tutoring, allergy shots, orthodontics. Parenting has become a specialized skill that is more about keeping up than providing love and discipline.

I’ve watched my friends struggle with intense mommy-guilt, because no matter how fast they run up the down escalator, it’s never enough.

I decided to write a mom-lit to explore the theme of how moms today torture themselves with grandiose notions of what it means to be a woman, a mom, a person.

In my novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller, Becky tries to be a Supermom. Faster than a speeding mini-van. Able to leap piles of laundry in a single bound. Daydreaming of saving the world. Through surprising events, Becky learns that her life DOES matter. She DOES make a difference—just not in the way she expected.
My grandma believed that by helping her son survive the war, and teaching him about her faith in God, she was a successful parent. She didn’t worry about what she hadn’t been able to provide.

Granny always told me that worry is a rocking chair. It’s goes and back and forth but never gets anywhere. Maybe as we parent today we need less worry about how we’re doing. Maybe Parent Anxiety even distracts us from giving our children what they need most: faith and love.

Blessings!
Sharon Hinck

Sharon is a wife and mom of four children who generously provide her with fodder for her stories. Her debut novel, The Secret Life of Becky Miller (Bethany 2006) just released, and she has three more books coming out with Bethany House in the next two years. Visit her website, www.sharonhinck.com, for more info.

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