The past couple of years have been lesson upon lesson in hard things. There is no shortage of stress, fear and anxiety. And many of us are raising kids through it all which takes anxiety to a new level. We often feel like parenting in this season comes without a handbook. It sort of feels like walking in the dark. There’s no adequate answer on how to raise kids right now. Raising kids is hard. Raising kids when you feel uncertain and under pressure feels even harder.

If we had to boil down why parenting feels hard, there’s one big reason that stares us in the face: feeling a loss of control. For example, if you’ve ever tried to teach a child to use the potty, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. There is nothing you can do to force them to use it. Or you can’t make them sleep when you want them to sleep. You can’t make them eat what you want them to eat. And you can’t make them behave well—especially in public. And if you’re raising teenagers, you feel that loss of control on a daily basis. No doubt, you could fill in the blank with so many other examples of what a loss of control feels like. 

Here is what I’ve learned from my own life: feeling like I don’t have control triggers fear in me. And when I feel fear, especially from a lack of control, I often don’t respond as my best self.


 If I’m being honest, my kids are usually the recipients of my reaction to fear. So, what do we do when we find ourselves feeling a loss of control, fear rising up and downright under pressure? 

We may not be able to change the circumstances or make others—especially our kids—change their behavior, but we can change our perspective and our approach towards ourselves and others. We may still feel out of control and afraid, but we can do the work to be our better selves in those moments.

When it comes to feeling under pressure, one thing you can do is notice the good. It is so hard to notice the good when you are dodging bullets and when the world around you feels uncertain. Most days I am worn out. I’m tired of repeating the same thing over and over. And as someone who is wired to notice the things that need improvement when it comes to her professional life, it’s hard to not notice the same in my personal life. My eye has been trained to pick out what isn’t working, what needs improvement and what needs changing. And while that has made me successful in my career, it’s not always the best thing in my family. 

This doesn’t work in our relationships because everyone is wired differently. Everyone has a different personality. Some people are more strong-willed than others. Some people are more reserved that others. Some people prefer to spend more time alone than with others. There is no wrong personality. But it’s easy for me who likes peace and quiet to reprimand my kids who are loud and active. Being loud and active isn’t wrong, just like being peaceful and quiet isn’t wrong. But because it is the opposite of my preference, I see it as hard instead of seeing the good.

It is also important to say yes sometimes when life feels tense. My daughters hear the word no so much on a daily basis. Sometimes the no would come from the need to protect them but often the no was said because of the inconvenience to me. I didn’t want to let them build a fort because I would be the one to clean it up. I didn’t want to craft because of the mess it would create. I didn’t want them to stay up another thirty minutes. Inconvenience. However, I’ve noticed that saying no actually continued some of the stress. So, I’ve worked on saying yes more. When they ask for something, I practice pausing and asking myself: Could I say yes to this?

Yes to letting her play with every single toy she owns even if it means I have to help her clean up. 

Yes to crafting with her even though there isn’t a craft bone in my body. 

Yes to letting her talk more even though it’s time to say good-night.

The yes doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It could be 15 minutes of undivided attention. Sometimes we all need to hear yes.

And lastly, when you feel stressed, out of control or fearful, take a break. 

Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the situation. We simply need to take a beat. This is where a timer can be your best friend. Set the timer (even as little as 10 minutes), close the door, grab your favorite drink or snack. And do what you want to do. Maybe you want to just sit in silence (God knows our ears could use a break.) Maybe you want to scroll social media. Maybe you want to read a book or journal. Maybe you want to step outside and walk for a few minutes. Do whatever helps you to breathe and reset. Start small, but give yourself a little sense of peace. Giving yourself a break—a moment of peace—can go a long way when you feel overwhelmed with the stress of life.

You will not be able to control every aspect of your life. You are guaranteed to feel stressed at times and afraid. This is normal and will happen time and time again throughout your life. But you can change how you let it affect your relationships. Start small. Take a break, say yes sometimes and start to notice the good around you.