Learning to Accept Change and Stop Worrying

Dear Debbie,

When and how can one stop worrying? My wife and I are in our early 60s. We are a step ahead in that we feel relatively financially secure to meet our needs as we grew older, but concerns and worries about our grown children and growing grandchildren are a constant in our lives.

Is there a time in life that can be worry free?

Worried and Concerned


Dear Worried and Concerned,

To live a life without feeling, even those feelings that are anxiety driven, is to be dead, and we are definitely not ready for that yet.

Realizing, that our grown children are adults and are free to make their own choices and live independent lives, and for us to feel proud of them and their choices, even if they are not ours, is a huge and courageous step for a parent to take. Once you have accepted your children’s choices, you may never stop worrying as a parent, but you will be more at peace if you accept your children and assume they can successfully run on their own autopilot.

When our children were small, taking their first steps, they are off and running.  You don’t want them to bang their head on the glass coffee table corner or fall down the steps, but you must give them the freedom to explore and even acquire a black and blue bump along the way.    All generations have experienced revolutions initiated by offspring, from the Beatles, to civil rights to antiwar movements.  Some have brought fruitful results that changed the world.  The next generation has that potential. Many parents feel that their children should mirror their choices politically, professionally and continue in their tradition religiously.

Steps to accepting adult children:

  1. Accept that you’ve done your best. It may not be the same way you would do it today, given your maturity and wisdom, but you did your best.
  2. Accept that you can only control yourself. Take charge where you can, in your own life and help out when asked.
  3. Forgive yourself for mistakes you made. You deserve a happy life.
  4. Forgive and accept your children for wanting another type of life and consciously admonish yourself to not be angry that they have rejected your principles and have undertaken their own.

For those of us that have the luck to have children that have grown up to be honest, compassionate and hardworking human beings, we should make no apologies to anyone if they did not cave in to the peer pressure of our immediate close environs and they have stepped outside to undertake an alternative lifestyle, unlike ours in small ways or big.  Step up and show them love, support their decisions, communicate continuously and tell them you are proud of the kind of adults they have become.





  • kinyodas
    Reply September 8, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    I asked my mother when she would stop worrying about me – she said “A mother never stops worrying about her children.” – that was twenty years ago. Still checks on us weekly – wouldn’t have it any other way. You’re human and you care.

  • LifelongNoob
    Reply September 8, 2016 at 7:25 pm

    You can stop right now, if you like. Or the next moment after that. Whenever you want, really. You just have to choose to do so.
    Have you ever looked into mindfulness and/or meditation? If you’re this consumed by anxiety, you might find them to be very powerful tools.
    You might also want to check out a book called The Power of Now (Eckhart Tolle). It’s an imperfect piece of writing (the author can be a little full of himself sometimes, and there are some sections that are way too spiritual for my taste). But it gives some great perspective on things like worry and anxiety and ways to train your mind to stop going in circles over things you have no control over.

  • NDaveT
    Reply September 8, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Worry and fear are part of the human condition, I’m afraid.

  • ianturpiesmoustache
    Reply September 8, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    You raised adults who have to live their own lives. You can’t stop yourself from worrying, but try not to feel responsible for decisions that others make or circumstances that others find themselves in. By all means help when you can/if it’s needed, but that’s really all you can be reasonably expected to sign up for. Enjoy being independent with your wife and do some crazy things with the time and money you’ve earned! :)

  • Anonymous
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I think if you can just accept that you did a good job financially preparing and that you raised functional grown children and let the rest of it go you should be able to rest on your laurels. You’ve done better than most.

  • wonderlanders
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 9:37 am

    If you have anything good in your life, it can always be taken away. Worry is part of life, and it’s good in that it means you have something to lose in the first place. Your health, financial stability, family, friends. If it’s debilitating and you feel like you’re worrying so much that it interferes greatly with your enjoyment of life, maybe try CBT therapy. You’ll get tools for taking the inevitable worry in stride. Mindfulness meditation is something you can practice on your own and can also be very helpful.

  • goshdarnwife
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 11:03 am

    I worry a bit occasionally about my son and his wife. They are both employed and doing okay. Everybody worries. The only time it’s a problem if it’s all consuming. Your kids are grown and have kids of their own. You aren’t responsible for them any more.
    Get out there and enjoy yourselves. :)

  • threedeemelodie
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Make a distinction between caring and worrying about your grown kids and their kids.
    You care about them. But you don’t have to worry about them as much. You raised them as best as you could, did what you could to equip them to be responsible adults and good parents. Now it is their responsibility to care/worry about themselves and their kids. You don’t have to jump in to solve their problems as soon as there’s a wrinkle in their path. Let them exercise their own problem-solving skills. Offer advice only when asked. Always offer emotional support. You and your wife should take a vacation just the two of you and relax a bit. :)

  • slangwitch
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Life is never going to stop having the potential to give you anxiety, but you can decide for yourself whether to let that rule you or to learn how to cope with it better.

  • Uvabird
    Reply September 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    We want the best for our loved ones. We want them safe and we want them to do well and be happy and healthy. We want them to avoid accidents, bad grades and bad company. We can worry about how the economy and the climate will affect their futures.
    You could spend all day worrying. All year. All next year and the ones that follow. Worry is like paying interest on a debt that may never come due, wrote Mark Twain. The worst may never happen. Good things could happen instead. Focus on what good things could happen.
    Remember to keep yourself well and happy. Just by being a loving grandparent you are bringing the positive into the lives of your family members if they are struggling.

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