I’m not a big worrier. I never have been. I think it’s because I’ve learned that most things tend to work out alright and that no matter how much I worry, it never changes the outcome.
The truth is, worry is a great way to ruin one’s day, week, month, or even year. It’s a counterfeit to peace.
Now, I say all that to then turn around and completely contradict myself when I tell you that I worry about my kids.
I’m a dad and the truth is, dads worry too.
I’m a widowed dad to three kids—ages 10, 8, and 6. And when it comes to them, I worry about all kinds of things.
I worry about getting my girls’ ponytails to stay up for an entire school day.
I worry about whether or not three nights in a row of chicken nuggets and mac-and-cheese is a bit excessive.
I worry about them not informing me when their shoes or underwear get too tight.
I worry about being smart enough to help my fourth grader with her homework.
I worry about packing their lunches each morning and if the other kids’ parents pack better lunches than I do. I worry about my kids being the kids with the “bad lunches.” I’m worried that they have a name for them, probably “dad lunches.”
Oh, and don’t even get me started on how much I worry about their teenage years. I just can’t.
Some of my worries might seem silly, but they are super-real to me, and I’m pretty sure they are here to stay. That being said, I think it’s safe to say that there are a few BIG things that we ALL worry about as dads.
We worry about their safety.
I think this is normal—and probably even instinctive—to worry about our kids’ safety. From the moment they are born we feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to keep them safe. Seemingly overnight, things that we never thought twice about suddenly become super-dangerous.
I want you to try something for me. Go ask your kids if they feel safe. I asked mine and their answers were awesome. You see, not only do my kids feel super-safe, but they also think I’m a superhero, and I bet your kids feel the same about you. I don’t know why they think that. I’ve only made it to the gym like three times this year. My dad bod is in full form. I’m not sure I could run a mile if someone paid me to. But to them, I’m all the Marvel superheroes rolled into one. It turns out that no one on the planet makes them feel as safe as I do.
Does this mean that I’ll worry less about their safety? Probably not. But it’s nice to know that to them, I’m the safest place on earth. And I bet if you asked your kids, you’d feel a sense of peace once you learn that they feel the same way about you.
We worry about the world they are growing up in.
Turn on the news. Actually don’t, but if you happen to, you’ll see pretty quickly why I’m worried. It’s incredible how two different networks can report the exact same story, on the exact same day, in such different ways. It’s scary how divided we are as a country. Heck, it’s scary how divided we are as communities right now.
Here’s a tip, just unplug. Every time you turn on the news or open up your computer, you’re hit with division. And anger. And hate. And unfortunately, it rubs off on us. And for me, it causes more stress and worry. It’s amazing what happens when you just unplug for a bit. You start to see that most people around you are actually really good. And that most of these issues that we spend so much time angry about are very much out of our control.
My advice, let our kids be kids. All too often, as parents, we push our agendas onto our kids. We want them to be little advocates for the things that we are advocates for. We are so focused on them being like us that we miss out on letting them be them. If we are cursing the school board’s decisions, they will too. If we are cursing the president’s decisions, they will too. If we are cursing our neighbors’ decisions, they will too. This is a dangerous game. And just as parents begin to turn against each other, our kids will follow. With that comes division. With that comes anger. With that comes hate. I have a great idea: Instead of playing that game, let’s encourage them to play hide-and-seek. Nobody hates hide-and-seek.
We worry about messing up.
I have an amazing dad. Possibly the greatest of all time. To this day, he is my best friend. But I’m sure he messed up some as I was growing up. Heck, I’m sure he messed up a bunch. But the thing is, I don’t remember his mess-ups. And that’s important. I’m sure he remembers his mess-ups, but I sure don’t. To me, he was and still is, a superhero, and in my eyes, he could do no wrong.
The fact is, we are going to mess up. Probably a lot. So it’s best to accept it and stop worrying about it. Messing up is part of the gig. We all do it. The key is to learn from the mess-ups and do better the next time around. Give yourself some grace because I can promise you that our kids give us a ton.
Worrying about our kids is natural. It’s what we do. From the moment they took their first breath, to the moment they took their first step, to wherever we may be today, we’ve worried. No one on the planet will ever worry about them more than we will. But if we really step back and think about it, 99% of the time our worries don’t even come to fruition. So do me a favor, let’s not get so caught up worrying about what doesn’t matter, that we forget to take the time to focus on what really does.
And if nothing I’ve written helps you to worry less, maybe Pooh will.
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?” Piglet asked.
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh.
Piglet was comforted by this. And I hope you are as well.