in my 23-year-old son
Hello, (Parenting question)
My children are 20 and 23 and I notice in my 23 year old a lot of the anxiety
that I projected on him because of my anxieties. My younger son not so much,
because he attended private school during high school and was not around me as
much as my older son. I know that the formative years have passed me by, but now
that I know better and have worked on my anxiety levels, is there anything I can
do to assist my son. He, of course sees anything I say now, as anxiety
produced, and not about him, but about my anxiety. I feel terrible about
the fact his anxiety levels are high, and that a lot of these anxieties were
learned by a master worrier. Thank you so much for your input.
Diagnosing anxiety is typically the easy part. Understanding the underlying
cause is a bit trickier and quite important as depending on the underlying
cause, the treatment will differ.
As you rightly notice, the behaviour of the parent can be picked up by the
child. Hence an anxious parent can give rise to anxious behaviour in the child.
However, what is left out of your equation is the reason for your anxiety. I
would wonder if it were caused by real life events, perhaps scary or upsetting
life circumstances or if you seemed to always be somewhat anxious in the absence
of any causal events of experiences.
If your anxiety is caused or triggered by life events, then counseling may be
the best intervention to address the symptoms. In this scenario the counseling
would explore the past events that gave rise to your anxiety. If however, you
just seemed pre-disposed to excessive worry, then medication may provide better
relief. Here too though, counseling may be helpful but typically the kind of
counseling that would be helpful here is called cognitive/behavioural. With this
counseling, you learn how to manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours
associated with the anxiety response.
As for your son, while he may not be open to your input at present, you can
still act as a role model. Whereas you may feel badly about yourself for
possibly contributing to his anxiety issues, you can go about your life
attending counseling and/or taking medication as prescribed by your physician
and then simply informing your son of your choices to cope more effectively with
At some point, your son may then pick up on your choices and when ready, explore
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario,
Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child
relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations,
social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a
Section 112 (social work) report.
Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters.
Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques
information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane,
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