Mama Bear Syndrome

When I think of a mama bear, I think of nurturing. Being a nurturing mama bear is good unless we take it too far.

It’s good to be nurturing and protective of our children. The opposite side of that is controlling and worrying. All of us parents do that at some point and to some extent.  When we control and worry too much is when it’s best to address that behavior.

Parents Never Really Have Control Over Kids

Parents have the most control over any human when they are a baby, but not the ultimate control. Young babies may not be able to talk or communicate well with us, but they are still their own entity. They dirty their diaper when the need to, not when we want them to. They eat when they need to, not when convenient for us. We may be able to control many parameters of their life such as sleeping schedule, what they wear etc, but they still control their body. It’s an illusion to think we can control them. Whatever control we did have, that was the last of it.

We all know once kids get to be toddlers and hit the “terrible twos” and “horrible threes” there goes more control we thought we had over them. Yet we want to continue to control them because we think we are keeping them and us safe. I’m not referring to the normal amount of parental control we need like keeping our kids from playing in traffic etc. Doing what we want them to do and doing it the way we think they should is the type of control I mean.

When we continue to attempt to control our kids, especially grown ones, we veer into what I call the classic, “Mama Bear” syndrome.

I Knew That Would Happen

“I knew if they did such and such, then this and that would happen. Why can’t they do it the way I told them to?” or “If they would just listen to me none of this would’ve happened!”

Does any of that sound familiar?

All parents think like that at some time.

It’s when they get older and are making decisions is when we caught up in their business because we think they are making the wrong move and if they’d listen to us, we would tell them how to do it better. But we can’t make them. And therein comes the frustration from parents. We can’t make anyone do anything.

We Get Anxiety Because We Can’t Control Them

Because we can’t make them do anything and we can’t control the outcome of their choices, we get anxiety. Feeling a lack of control produces anxiety.

At some point we have to let go, let them make their choices and let them deal with the consequences. When they were younger and they burnt the toast because they weren’t paying attention, the stakes weren’t high. But when they can’t show up to an interview in a professional way the stakes are higher. If you’re being the Mama Bear (or Papa Bear), then our anxiety goes up because we feel they’d stand a better chance of getting the job if they dressed nicer.

If your daughter doesn’t dress professionally to an interview and blows it, not your problem. If your son can’t pay his bills on time, not your problem. You want them to do what’s best, but you can’t control them if they don’t.

Lack of Control Equals Anxiety

You gotta let go, mama bear. You’re causing yourself undue anxiety. You can’t control it. Lack of control equals anxiety.

It’s not good for your mental health to get tied up in knots over something you can’t change. If you can see that you can’t change the situation, and really know that, that can help lessen your anxiety.

You can still be a good, nurturing, helpful Mama Bear, just don’t be the controlling Mama Bear.

You got this, Mama Bears!

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