Kids and Anxiety

I don’t have anxiety.  But I worry and I can find myself perseverating on issues, but it’s not all the time.  Or at least I don’t think I do.  But my older kid and I just had a conversation about anxiety and how I don’t understand what it’s like.

“It’s like a train that criss-crosses the country and never stops.  I wake up with it.  I can’t sleep because of it.  I think I have ADHD.  There’s only one thing I’ve found that helps it and you don’t approve because it’s not legal yet here.”

In typical Janie fashion, I want to sit and talk with him about it.  But he stomps off in a huff because I question that the only relief he’s stating that helps is 420 and he knows I’m against that being used.  I offer counseling.  I offer a trip to his doctor.  He emphatically refuses.  (And yes, he’s tried anxiety meds and stopped them a year ago because both he and his Dr agreed that they were making him too lethargic and he didn’t like them.)

I ask what he’s anxious about because my thought process is if we could talk about what’s making him anxious, then we could come up with some solutions that would help him.  But he won’t/can’t tell me what his thoughts are and tells me in no uncertain terms that I just don’t understand because I don’t have anxiety.  And he’s right.  I don’t.  But I do know my kid and when he’s scared or feeling low self-worth, he’s got a typical reaction and that’s what he’s doing.

I think he’s anxious about getting a job after university graduation and how that will affect his life.  I’ve had friends in his chosen career field offer to talk with him and to help him find a job, but he refuses to meet with them citing that they’re strangers and old so what could they do to help him?  My answer is that they have connections and were willingly to help him get his foot in the door in his chosen field.  They wanted to share their experiences and talk with him in order to guide him, help him, but he wants none of it.  I understand he’s scared.  He feels the pressure of getting a job and he’s running away citing anxiety as his trump card.

“I can’t do this because I have anxiety and you don’t understand.”

He doesn’t want to dig into what the anxiety is, but I think it’s the above situation that is making him act this way.  He’s unsure about his future and holds the guilt of not always doing his best in school so he’s acting out.  His chosen career path would require him to take more courses and exams to further his career and I think he doesn’t want to do it anymore.  Which is fine because I believe you should find a job that speaks to you and either way, once he has his degree, he can choose whatever career path he wants whether it’s using his major or not.

But he stomped away again.  And I didn’t pursue him because when he acts like this, he’s not listening.  I did question him that he thinks the only relief is using that to relax him.  Perhaps I don’t understand, but in my mind doing that only relaxes you for a bit, but the anxiety still is there and one needs to deal with the issue/thoughts that are causing the anxiety instead of using as a temporary bandage to an obvious problem that you’re having.   Again, I was told I don’t understand.  So I suggested that perhaps a move to another state where that was legal was an option so that he could do that if he chose.  I was met with the angry stare as he walked away and I stayed quiet.  And yes, I poked the bear knowing that he would be angry at me.  And I’m ok with it.

Maybe you think I was a lousy parent in the above scenario and maybe I am.  But I’ve found that reverse psychology of:  ok, you want to use that because you feel it helps you, then move somewhere where it’s legal – makes him mad because I just gave him the answer he wasn’t expecting.  I gave him the ok to do it if that’s what he’s claiming so adamantly that it helps him.  Ok.  Go ahead, but do it somewhere that’s legal.  And I know he hated it.  But giving him that push usually has him later on able to get over his anger with me in order to clear the air and talk about it in a different way.  Because the dynamic mom’s support outweighs it all and by saying that, I’ve just given you my support.  Even though he knows I am not a fan of that.

And the thing is, while I think he can feel anxious, I also think that he doesn’t really have anxiety at the level he’s claiming because normally there’s no talk of anxiety nor any signs of it.  What started this morning was a direct result of my repeating the request about meeting with my friends to get a job after graduation.  I am hearing about all of his friends who are already interviewing and getting jobs lined up for after graduation and I am sure he’s feeling the pressure so I was hoping to help him.  But it backfired.

I have chosen to back off.  I am a resource and not a helicopter mom after all.


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9 Responses to Kids and Anxiety

  1. landzek says:

    Somehow I can’t help but think that this anxiety is just another level for no one understanding. Whereas in my generation all I had to say was “you just don’t understand”, but since my generation now grew up and “we understand“ the next generation underneath has to say something else to emphasize the difference, “you don’t understand, I am anxious”. Then once that generation makes it to 40 or 50, the next generation will add another qualifier to emphasize how they are different and how they can’t cope. It will be “you don’t understand; I am anxious; (fill in the blank).

    Now, this doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I don’t want to help people that say they’re anxious. Of course I want to help people because they’re asking for help.

    Because if they weren’t saying hey I’m anxious, and then saying you don’t understand, they wouldn’t be asking for help about their situation. They would just be doing whatever and not giving a shit about what you think.

    So it’s like a strange conundrum. Of course we have to help when someone asks. But it’s kind of like they’re only asking for help because they know that we can’t give them any.

    I don’t know if I ever had anxiety in my life because I just didn’t know the word for whatever it was that was going on with me. And so I had no complaint to say to anyone else that I was anxious or something was wrong with me, because I simply just viewed however I was as the way I was and I didn’t really care if anyone had an opinion on how I was. I wasn’t asking for help because there was no language for me to express how I was feeling different in that particular way in the context of that I would need help with it, that makes any sense.

    So, I feel for you, and I feel for your child. My daughter had anxiety since she was in kindergarten up until just recently and she still has it but she’s found coping mechanisms. And one of the reasons is is because she indeed wanted help. And so in that sense once we gave her a certain amount of help, beyond that point she didn’t want our help because she was helping her self. She could say “I’m feeling anxious“, but at that point or nowadays it just means that there’s nothing that I can do to help her and shows she’s going to do what she needs to do regardless, and thus we will be there to support her.

    It has something to do with ownership and I think the realization that the help that a person is asking for really just comes from within. Some sort of realization maybe, that the child or adult has that that’s just the way they are, they’re anxious, and then they just learn to live with it So it doesn’t hinder them as much and actually is lessened because even though they might be anxious now they’ve just excepted that that is who and what they are such that the anxiety really becomes almost a moot point so far is they might want to complain about it and get help from someone, because they already know the kind of help that they need if they were to say that they’re anxious.

    I tend to want to say it’s just part of being human for particular humans,



    • janieleeds says:

      Thank you for sharing. You made complete sense and I really appreciated your taking the time to write such an amazing comment. I feel for your daughter, but I love that she has gotten help and has your support! That’s awesome!
      I agree with the generational theory too. Each generation has similar but different stressors, each with its own fallout.
      We are going to the doctor today who he trusts (his pediatrician) before he ages out of her practice. He asked me to go with him which I am comfortable doing because I am always here to support my child, no matter how old.
      I think there should be a class on coping mechanisms because in one way or another, I think we all need help from time to time when life gets stressful.
      I thank you for your input and your kindness. It is “just part of being human for particular humans” and I think anxiety (if that’s what he has) allows for us all to bond in ways we might not have with empathy, kindness and understanding.
      Have a great day!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Elaine says:

    I feel for you Janie and I completely get your logic . I wonder if he realises that probably a lot of his friends actually feel the same but don’t talk about it. Anxiety is a part of living and something that unfortunately some of us suffer from at some point in our lives. ❤️


  3. Create Space says:

    Janie, I think your approach was excellent! Without saying so you laid it on the line that you won’t tolerate it in your home and gave him the space to make his own decision! You rock!


  4. Pingback: Is Anxiety From Not Processing Your Feelings? | Authentically 50 ~ Embracing Life's Changes

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