This topic of conversation has been on my mind to share over the past few weeks and I feel like it’s totally time to self-reflect on myself and what anxiety looks like for me. I’m talking about my story because I am in the middle of reading Raising Worry-Free Girls by Sissy Goff and it’s helped me realize just how I want to help give both of my daughters the tools to tackle anxiety and worry and set them up for success… now and into the future. Fair warning: extremely personal post coming today, but I’m thankful for this platform to share things that I have dealt with in the hopes that maybe I can help others, too.
Raising Worry Free Girls by Sissy Goff
In 2015, I was diagnosed with GAD [Generalized Anxiety Disorder] and I know all too well what that diagnosis did to my mind, body and soul. Honestly, it was a relief to know that I wasn’t losing my mind. To put it simply, GAD can be a number of things. But for me, it was CONSTANTLY worrying about my family, work, health, money–the ever-growing list that went on and on. I felt paralyzed with the worry and fear so much that it consumed my days. Becoming the only thing I could think about.
I also think it had to do with the fact I had two small children, a husband that traveled 2-3 days a week, was running a children’s store and a growing blogs [among everything else us ladies deal with on a daily basis involving being a wife, parent, friend, daughter, etc etc etc]. After talking about it for a number of months with my therapist, he thought it was time to talk to my general practitioner about all of the anxiety. And I was SO glad I did! She and I talked about strategies to manage it, which included daily medication + working out and meditation/quiet time. Doing those things along with incorporating other tools helped me better navigate my GAD until last year when we slowly took the dosage down until I no longer needed it.
It’s not something I’m “cured of” per se. It’s something I still have to manage. Especially when I have a lot of stress and too much on my plate. But now I am better equipped on what things trigger my GAD and how to cope with it so I don’t have those debilitating days anymore.
Coping with GAD
Raising Worry-Free Girls by Sissy Goff
Having said that, it’s definitely helped me reflect on how stress, anxiety and worry could look to both of my girls. Sissy mentions in her new book how anxiety is an epidemic in children throughout our country. So I want to help my girls combat this anxiety now so that they know how to tackle it if and when they face it later in their adolescence and into adulthood as well.
If you’re like me, you have a lot of mom guilt. I’m always telling myself I need to do more, teach them more, get them more involved within our community, sign them up for more sports, etc etc etc. Again, the blame sets in and then I remind myself that I WANT THEM TO JUST ENJOY BEING KIDS. Sissy says she tells each of the girls she meets facing anxiety that “You feel this way because you’re really great. The smartest, most conscientious, try-hard, care-about-things girls I know are the ones who struggle with anxiety. It’s honestly because you’re awesome. You care so much, and that’s the bottom line of why you worry.”
It’s amazing when you see it put that way. I think this is the exact sentiment I need to tell myself more and more. Research reports that girls are twice as likely to develop an anxiety disorder as boys [per Chansky, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety] and that statistic almost put me to tears, because here I am, a mama of two school-aged girls coming into some incredibly formative years ahead.
Older Siblings and Anxiety
Sissy’s book also mentions the fact that older siblings are sometimes the ones with prevalent anxiety. I call Caroline my little “smother” AKA sister mother because she indeed does help Carson more than I’ve ever noticed before. She’s capable, mature, responsible and therefore I know I can rely on her. But then I always remind myself SHE IS JUST SEVEN YEARS OLD! And everything Sissy writes is exactly what I see in my sweet Caroline. She’s kind and generous and wants to succeed and always gives 110% to everything she does. I see much of myself in her and that’s when I get nervous.
This year, our school system rolled out a new plan to start grading using the A, B, C, D, F scale to 2nd graders. Whereas before it’s always begun in 3rd grade. Honestly, I can already tell it’s making many of the kids worry about their math and spelling tests; and it’s putting added pressure on them which I don’t think is fair. But such is life. For me, I’m just trying to remind Caroline to give her all. We will do what we can to help her prepare; and as long as she does her best, that’s all that matters and we will be proud of her. No matter what the end grade is. Right or wrong, we are just doing what we think is right to help our girl succeed, while not focusing so much on the outcome, but the EFFORT [a sentiment Sissy speaks about in the book in Chapter 2].
How Raising Worry Free Girls Has Helped Me
At the end of the day, this book is helping ME to deal with anxiety that creeps into my days. But also gives me the power to help both Caroline and Carson tackle the anxiousness that could affect their habits as well. Major food for thought on a Tuesday. But I’m truly enjoying this book more than I ever imagined; and I am all for sharing parenting wins these days!!
Thank you so much to Sissy Goff and the others at Raising Boys and Girls–because of you, I am helping my girls feel Braver, Stronger and Smarter… and that’s a win in itself! OXOX
Have you read ‘Raising Worry-Free Girls’ by Sissy Goff? Share in a comment below!