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I think I worry too much about my family, but don't know how to stop.

(177 Posts)
greenmossgiel Sat 12-Nov-11 20:16:48

It's a 'mother' thing, I suppose, but how do we learn to step back and let them get on with their lives without the constant worry about if they're ok? My eldest daughter is settled well, and deals with day-to-day stuff in an organised way. Her younger sister lives a chaotic lifestyle and cannot apply herself as her sister does - in fact she's the total opposite! There are times when her life falls into more chaos, and I go along to pick up the pieces again, usually financial. My son seems to be getting his life together again, after having dealt with his own issues. Dealing with these issues were very hard for us both, and he needed strong support from me. Now, I realise, I'm finding it so very hard to stop worrying and needing to always hear from him to make sure he's ok. I have recognised that this probably isn't a good thing, but find it hard to stop....I'm always thinking 'I haven't heard from him today - what if he's not ok?' or 'Why isn't she answering her phone - is she feeling low again?' I've always been a worrier, and I know I'm not doing them any good being this way, but I don't know how to stop!

Gally Sat 12-Nov-11 21:07:26

Sounds familiar Green. I was a constant worrier - inherited from my Dad who worried about everything and anything. When they left for Uni I didn't worry too much - almost out of sight, out of mind but not quite.... but when they came home, I started to worry again - waiting until I heard the door close at 3 am, wondering if they had been molested on the long walk back from the pub (all of 50 yards) all silly things; then, one day I took myself in hand and decided that all this worry was not good for me; they were, by that time, well grown up and married and I transferred my 'worry' mentally to them and since then have tried to just get on with my own worrieshmm. Of course, when they ring and tell me about their problems, illnesses, pregnancies, mothers-in-law, baby troubles or whatever, I sympathise and offer advice and help and in some cases worry but not half as much as I used. We Mums will never not care, but we have to learn to let go and let them get on with their own lives unencumbered by us ...confused

Elegran Sat 12-Nov-11 21:14:12

Talk to them about it, green, surely they will understand? Get an arrangement with your son, either that he WILL phone you daily to say all is OK while things are still fraught, or that he WILL NOT phone you for X days if all is OK but he WILL phone if it is not.

Same with your daughter. If she knows that you are worried sick when she does not answer her phone, surely she cares enough about you to check in and keep you from getting frazzled. Being responsible for YOUR peace of mind could start her on being a bit less chaotic herself.

You do plenty for each of them, have them do this for you.

nanapug Sat 12-Nov-11 21:21:05

You are so right gally, I do try very hard not to worry, but I am aware that I am too involved and find it hard to detach myself from them. I think if they were not so physically close (one is divorced and lives with us at present, and the other lives a few streets away) it might be easier. I wonder if you green are too involved? I strongly believe that it is actually a burden to them if we are so involved and worrying all the time. Note to self (and maybe green too), MUST TRY HARDER to step back. It's not easy though is it, especially as it sounds to me green that you have been very much needed at times?

FlicketyB Sat 12-Nov-11 21:26:10

Greenmossgiel, I do not think any of us ever stop worrying about our children, or helping them in one way or another. We have spent most of the last two months looking after our daughter after a serious car accident, but as you say it is knowing when the worrying is going too far. My technique for distancing myself sufficiently from my children's problems is to think back to when I was there age and how I would have felt if I had thought my mother was constantly worrying about me, finding solutions to my problems or contacting me to check on my wellbeing. The answer is that I would have been exasperated and irritated that I was still being seen as a child who could not cope with and resolve the problems I have in life. It enables me to take a deep breath and step back. The other technique is to find something else to occupy your mind when worry threatens to overcome you. It could be an activity, like crosswords or jigsaw puzzles that concentrate the mind without demanding too much of you or it could be a mantra you repeat endlessly.

If the worry is really overwhelming you should see a counsellor. Your doctor could also help you by referring you for a course of CBT, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, that helps people deal with unhelpful thought proceses and is also used to treat depression.

JessM Sat 12-Nov-11 21:56:48

Hi there Greenmossgeil. My sons have given me plenty of things to worry about over the years. It is a habit and a kind of addiction in a way - we want to protect them and control of their lives like when they were little. When they are chaotic young adults their dependency is prolonged and it makes it harder to let go. My mother was a world class worrier and it was not pleasant to be on the receiving end. I think that you have rightly identified that it is your issue - you need to train yourself to get out of the habit of it, rather than put pressure on your children.
These are the strategies I use: remind myself that neither of them made really awful decisions (in the long term... I on the other hand married very unwisely at an early age) - I count my blessings.
Deliberately think about something else - something nice or interesting - when I can feel myself straying near the edge of that abyss. Or think about someone else and how you are better off than they are.
Someone once said that if you want to change a habit its like you keep falling down a hole. First you have to notice the hole coming - even if you still fall down. Then you have to learn to stop when you see it coming and walk around it.

greenmossgiel Sat 12-Nov-11 22:25:15

I'm a born worrier! What you're all saying makes so much sense, and I suppose I knew it anyway. I'm adding to my family's 'problems' by worrying about them and therefore giving them a responsibility for me (which isn't needed!) I actually feel a bit better already! I think I've just been having a 'wobbly' day! It's a hard one, though, isn't it? Although we don't show them that we're worried (eg, by weeping and wailing over them), it's still there, in us, isn't it? FlicketyB, I hope your daughter is coming along a bit better now? Every day is another one where her progress will improve, hopefully. thanks

Learnergrandma Sat 12-Nov-11 22:45:18

Hi Greenmossgeil. I know how you feel. I have worried about all three of mine from the moment I knew each one was on the way. But DD1 has a good job, has just bought her own flat, has good friends and is happy as Larry - I just wish she would find someone to love so she was not on her own. DD2 is happily married and has just produced twins - I worry that I do not live close enough to help her with them. DS has just graduated and gone travelling in Australia; he has found well-paid work, is growing up and having a great time - I worry that he will stay there! When will it ever end?? Worriers of the world unite.

HildaW Sat 12-Nov-11 23:01:34

I too have been driven mad my overworry I know its a result of several years of real stress and having to cope with a lot of unpleasant things which thankfully are mostly resolved. But I still have this constant voice in my head. Everytime the phone rings I think the worse. Yet deep down some part of me knows its irrational. I feel like you Greenmoss that I should not over burden my girls with these daft thoughts. Its not their problem that I'm so silly. They are good at keeping in touch but as soon as I decide they've not phoned recently enough I'm making up all sorts of dire reasons for why they have not called. If I then pick up the phone and ring at a time they might normally be in and are not........well you can guess the rest. I get in such a state that by the time we do get to chat I'm a basket case. And when both daughters visited in the same week and I was worrying about the younger driving on her own for first time I ended up spoiling the whole thing by giving myself a huge migraine through the worry.I've actually now been to the drs and he was very sweet making sure there was no physical reason (I knew there were not) and I'm now on the way for a referral for CBT.
The trouble is when I'm having a bad day get so swept up by it I forget all the common sense ideas that I know work...get out the house.........go for a brisk walk.....dont have that large glass of wine.......get a decent nights sleep.etc etc.
Hey ho.....we are daft arn't we?

petallus Sat 12-Nov-11 23:04:24

I can relate to just about everything everyone has said here. I've struggled for years to be less involved with my children's lives, one daughter's in particular. There's a difference between being understandably concerned and eaten up with anxiety in an obsessive way. At last, and not before time, I think I have found a way to yank myself back into a more balanced state whenever I notice I am beginning to go over the top. Good luck to everyone else!

crimson Sat 12-Nov-11 23:11:41

I dread phone calls as well; I never think 'oh lovely, someone wants to chat' but' omigoodness; what's happened?' When my daughter was a baby I went to see our doctor because all the news was about nuclear war and stuff like that; he said to me 'do you get out much and see people?' and I replied 'of course not, I'm stuck at home with a small baby'. Thought he was being very insensitive at the time, but he was actually right! But, thirty plus years later I'm still the same, and now worrying about the grandchildren as well. I'm a sort of 'I worry therefore I am' person...

greenmossgiel Sat 12-Nov-11 23:17:37

Oh my goodness - I'm so glad I posted! And HildaW, I think you must be my twin! The other day my son had visited and was meant to stay for dinner, but his friend turned up with a new car. The dinner was left and they both went away for a spin in the car - an open top BMW. I didn't hear any more from him and of course, like HildaW, I was thinking the very worst. It was dark, the roads were wet...I texted and got no reply; I phoned and it rang out. Then I got a text to say that his phone had been on 'silent' - just leave his dinner till tomorrow! It would be funny if we could just calm down a bit!

Carol Sat 12-Nov-11 23:53:50

My sister and I both find we worry about our children, as if we aren't on alert something awful may happen that we weren't prepared for. Totally irrational, I know, but it's all part of being a mother. I give myself a good talking to every now and again.

glammanana Sat 12-Nov-11 23:56:42

green You wouldn't be normal if you didn't worry,I worry about mine every day my DD more than my boys,but only because she has gone through a really bad divorce and she is worrying about bills X has left for her to cope with and we have to come up a plan to pay them,but we will get there.I worry when my boy's go out when they are home and these are boys that have fought wars so why am I worried about them ? Oh and by the way my lot always seem to have the phone on silent,what is the point of that I ask? confused

grandmaagain Sun 13-Nov-11 16:52:37

so glad to read your post green now I know I am not alone!! I too worry constantly about my family but hopefully only quietly on my own without telling them. However sometimes I just have to ring, especially if they have been on a long journey somewhere with the children I try to be tact full and just say "oh I was wondering if you'd had a nice time" but I'm sure they always know but try to humour me. worriers of the world unite!! I think so long as we admit to ourselves it is OUR problem not theirs we can hopefully keep our anxieties from them. Do Dads worry as much I wonder? my DH adores his girls but seems much more rational is it just a" mother thing"?

Annobel Sun 13-Nov-11 17:12:44

My mother was such a worrier that I am sure she worried if there was nothing to worry about. I swore I would never be like that and I don't think I am. If there is any cause for concern, they don't usually tell me until the crisis is over!

greenmossgiel Sun 13-Nov-11 17:17:51

grandmaagain, it's so good to know I'm not alone with this, either! The reason I posted was that I realised my worrying was getting out of hand, and I was starting to go from one text/phone call to the next, being so happy to receive contact then starting to worry all over again when I didn't hear during the next day. I knew that this wasn't sensible, but felt that if I asked others how they coped, it might help me - and it has, a good bit. They always see through it, though, don't they, when we ask them loaded questions! hmm

grandmaagain Sun 13-Nov-11 17:30:22

ALWAYS!!! greenmossgielgrin but we'll still do itgrin but like you I will try and sit on my hands sometimes smile

JessM Sun 13-Nov-11 19:22:47

Oh dear. Some of these posts are distressing to read. None of you seem to have anything very awful to worry about at the moment so you are casting around for things to worry about - but your are ruining the quality of your lives and probably not doing your relationships with your offspring much good either. In he past at times I have found that a few sessions with a good counsellor/therapist can make a huge difference to this kind of thing.

HildaW Sun 13-Nov-11 19:38:00

JessM.....I have tried to type somthing polite and level headed in response to your comments but damn it, I really cant be arsed to spare your feelings. To be blunt its never helpful when anyone makes light of anxiety, stress and deep seated worries. I have sought medical help for my problems and thankfully am going to get some. We are talking mental health issues here and I think your comments are not only unhelpful they are quite distressing.

I am glad all is hunky dory in your little world, but just dont ask me to sympathise if you ever are driven to a state of near misery by something you have no control over.

Carol Sun 13-Nov-11 20:08:12

Please JessM don't make assumptions about what you read as issues that are not much to worry about. Some of us have a deeper knowledge of what has been referred to on the open forum, and believe me, they have had good reason to worry. Many of us find we start worrying BECAUSE of those experiences, because they were so traumatic we fear them occurring again. Having had a year of several traumatic experiences myself, I know that what I have posted does not reflect what actually happened. It would be too intrusive to bare all about my nearest and dearest without their knowledge and permission, but I can speak in a general way and find other Gransnetters know what I'm talking about and can offer advice and support.

Annobel Sun 13-Nov-11 20:16:18

Reading through these posts has given me infinitely more insight into my late mother's mindset. I wish I'd had this forty or so years ago.

bagitha Sun 13-Nov-11 20:32:34

To be fair, I really don't think jess was being unsympathetic or unkind. I read her posts as trying to give some practical advice for a problem that she recognises in herself sometimes.

greenmossgiel Sun 13-Nov-11 20:46:07

HildaW and Carol, I too, feel quite put out by JessM's comments which were probably written without much thought. We know, though. We know why we feel as we do, and probably nothing will take it away. Treatment such as counselling does help, I know. I received this when things got tough a couple of years ago. 'A few sessions with a good counsellor', is quite a dismissive way of describing the treatment, but it was however, really helpful. Further issues have occurred which I have dealt with myself, and I'm still doing this. Being able to discuss some of these issues with sensitive members of GN has helped me immensely, and for that I am so grateful.

Charlotta Sun 13-Nov-11 20:53:22

With so many worriers about there must be a few of us who don't worry all the time. I have worried many a time but I don't worry much now they are in their forties, indeed when I don't see them I forget I have them sometimes.

I worked in a Women's Refuge as a voluntary visiter and general helper, and that cured me of worrying about my well nourished, educated children who lived with partners who didn't knock them about.
It may be amother#s thing but the question is who