I have a long history of being an overthinker. If I put a date on when it started it would have been around 12 years of age, which I remember as being like a light switch.
Before the flick I don’t remember musing about the world, after it I didn’t stop.
By the time I became a parent at 35, this part of my brain had reached peak overthinking.
A whirring brain can drain you as a parent
Overthinking has its pros and cons, but I’m starting to think that in my life as a parent the cons outweigh the pros.
On the plus side, I remember birthdays, text someone when they’re down, am pretty considerate of others and am generally a “conscious” parent.
On the minus side, I’ve wasted a mountain of time worrying about whether my kids are getting everything they need to be thriving, happy humans.
Case in point. Very recently my daughter decided she didn’t want to invite a girl in her friendship group to her birthday party. In my brain this became a crisis equivalent to negotiating the Middle East Peace deal.
Should I encourage Darcy to be compassionate and invite the friend, thereby teaching her to be kind and giving? Should I back Darcy and say she didn’t need to invite the friend, thereby showing her that she can have confidence in who she chooses to be friends with? Was it setting a precedent? Was it exclusion? Or was it just a little girl’s birthday party?
I know right? I’m tired just reading that paragraph.
Analysing our parenting choices comes from a good place
So where does this overthinking come from?
I’d like to think it comes from a good place, a desire to do the right thing for my children. I’m proud that I try to understand where my kids are coming from, that I listen to the latest research and do the best I can.
But if I’m honest, it also comes from somewhere deeply insecure.
It comes from a place of self-doubt. If I was confident in my abilities as a parent I wouldn’t second-guess myself so much. And while I don’t see myself as striving for parenting perfection, the standards I measure myself against are impossible.
No one can make the “right” decision for their kid every single time.
Each situation isn’t a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure where the wrong choice leads to your child destitute, drug-addicted and homeless. Life is a series of small steps made up of conversations, mistakes and trying again.
A good enough parent is exactly that
It’s difficult to tap into your own instinct when you think you’re not doing the “right” thing. When you think you’re guiding your child towards a friendless future, or one without teeth (because they’re eating too much sugar).
But the truth is, the “good enough” parent is exactly that. Good enough. And when you’re busy over-thinking every possible scenario (and ways you’ll mess up your child) you miss what you’re doing right.
You miss the fun stuff. The laughs in the morning over breakfast. The cuddles and the giggles and the mistakes that turn out to be the most fun of all. Even the birthday parties where they get ridiculously excited, too many presents and way too many lollipops.
In this instance, I need to be more like my husband
He’s going to take this article, frame it and hang it on our wall.
But it’s true. The difference in how we look at parenting is neatly encapsulated in the meme below.
It’s really that simple. And how much more energy will I have if I swap his thought bubble for mine?
Enough to give myself a high five at the very least.
Maybe even enough to enjoy a six-year-old's birthday party.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. We’re talking baby steps after all.
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