Why do we worry?
Often I find that being a parent increases your “Worry Factor” three-fold and I worry that my emotions may be following suit.
My grandmother used to worry constantly……I vowed never to be like that. My mother worries to a lesser degree or at least appears to. I don’t think my father worries…but my father-in-law probably worries enough for both of them. My husband tends to worry but has mellowed out in his years. My sons worry, the dog worries……my daughter doesn’t. Now it comes to me…………I fall somewhere in the middle but am trending upward in my “Worry Factor” as I get older contrary to my vow never to head in that direction.
When is the “Worry Factor” in a healthy zone? When is the “Worry Factor” too high?
As I sat down to think about what to blog about, I decided to explore the “worry factor.” I found that Dr. Edward Hallowell, psychiatrist and author of Worry, claims that worry can serve a productive function but can turn toxic when the worry overwhelms and paralyzes you. Good worry or as I am referring to as a low “worry factor” leads you to constructive action with appropriate attention to risk and danger. Unfortunately, I am beginning to dabble in this toxic worry.
My “Worry Factor:
As I mentioned, I typically fall into the mid-low range on the “Worry Factor” scale. But I did find myself in a situation this week that is a bit too similar to something that I could see my grandmother doing.
So the background to the story is that my son, JJ, is a high honors student—consistently doing well in school, actually awesome. We couldn’t be any more proud. His teachers are especially impressed with his ability to write. Well, the “Worry Factor” went into overdrive this week when I started to think about the time he spent working on his papers. He was spending hours, upon hours each night with his writing assignments, often staying up until 11:30 before he put his pen down or shut off his computer. As a concerned mother, I started to question whether he was taking too long? Would his grades on the Massachusetts standardized tests be negatively impacted by the length of time he takes to process his thoughts? Is he being too much of a perfectionist? And you can imagine the tidal wave of “worry” that overcame me! So without delay, I immediately sent a note to his teacher describing my concerns.
Within less than an hour I received a beautifully crafted response from his teacher and the two school reading specialists that explained how middle school is a time for kids to perfect their writing, not a time to worry about how long it takes them. His English teacher further explained how she always reads JJ’s papers last since he is such an exceptional writer. She says that by saving his for last, every writing assignment ends on a positive note. She further noted that she thinks that JJ should consider being a writer because of his innate talent with the written word. Her positive comments went on and on. The reading specialists keyed in with more positive things to say about his writing. Wow!!
Ok….so my “Worry Factor” about the amount of time JJ spends on writing is back in check. I have come to accept that he is a perfectionist, but that is ok!
But now, my “Worry Factor” is sky-high with concern that his teacher thinks I am a total crazy mother who has too much time on her hands and is creating issues to worry about. I can just imagine the side conversations that they are having about the lunatic who is worried about her son who consistently receives the highest grade in the class on every writing assignment.
“Worry Factor” –goal is to have it decrease before the next teacher conference.