Maintaining your perspective is crucial to keeping your anxiety under control. Here are some reminders that might help:
•Your child needs the freedom to try his emerging identity on for size without feeling like it’s an unmitigated disaster if he needs to refine things a little or take a mulligan. You’re being a good parent when you allow that to happen. If you’re overreacting or holding on too tight, he won’t have room to grow.
•Your child also needs the space to make mistakes and learn from them. You’re being a good parent when you let that happen too. If you’re trying too hard to control the outcome or being too judgmental when he trips over his own feet, he’ll be overly concerned about making mistakes and won’t have the chance to learn from them.
•Your child also needs the opportunity to right the ship on his own when he runs into troubled waters. And he needs you to watch closely to see how he’s doing. If you’re not watching closely enough, he could tire of floundering and give up. If you throw him the life vest at the first sign of floundering, he’ll never learn to swim. If he’s able to right the ship often enough, you’ll start to have faith in his ability to do so. He may actually have a pretty decent ship-righting track record and—though your memories of the times when he didn’t handle troubled waters quite so well may be more poignant—it’s good to reflect on that.