Can Parenting Reduce Anxiety and Stress?

Health & Wellness on 01.22.13
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Before I had kids, I'd occasionally lie in bed at night worrying about the problems of the day.

Work, climate change, overpopulation, my complete lack of success with women - you name it, and I'd occasionally worry about it. It's not that I was prone to anxiety exactly - in fact I've usually been a relatively calm individual - it's just that, as for most people, life would occasionally get the better of me and I'd feel a little overwhelmed. 

So I naturally assumed that these worries would get worse when I had kids. After all, from the state of the planet they'll inherit through over violent TV shows to deciding how much freedom to give your kids, it seemed to me that parenting brought with it a whole new set of things to be terrified about. (I haven't even touched on the subject of poop-o-phobia yet.) How did parents even function, given all the things that can go wrong with their little ones?

And yet the reverse has been true. In fact, I've never slept better.

OK - that's a total lie. I've been woken up at all hours to comfort babies, change diapers, fetch water, shoe away monsters, to name but a few Dad duties. But when I have been allowed to sleep, I have slept well. I've found that work pressures and other stresses have become much less ominous with the increased perspective of what really matters in life. And while I'd be lying to suggest I don't worry about my kids, I also don't spend every waking minute thinking about the horrible scenarios of what could go wrong. 

Quite simply, I think I live in the moment more than I used to. I play games. I dance dances. I hug. I kiss. I go to bed truly exhausted. And I am reminded each and every day how amazing the most mundane things in life can be through the eyes of a young child.

Yet search google on parenting and anxiety, and you'll find a slew of articles on helicopter parents causing anxiety in kids, or misbehaving kids causing anxiety in parents. So I'm wondering, any other parents out there who have found parenting a helpful process in putting things in perspective? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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