“I never hear you complain,” I said to my friend Liz as we stood in my kitchen chatting. What I meant was, “You have a lot you could complain about, but you don’t.” Liz had breast cancer when her kids were little and 10 years later, it came back. She fought it and won again but lost a breast in the process. She’s had some health complications since but has always come out on top. I don’t know how she does it, but she’s the most optimistic person I know and always fun to be around. Liz grinned. “I had cancer,” she said, as if reading my mind, “but I have so much to be thankful for.” Liz seemed to have boundless energy and a resilient spirit. I found myself wanting to be more like her.
From being around Liz, I realized optimism can be a powerful life-changer for me as well as my kids. Having a “glass half full” mentality isn’t about turning a blind eye to the hard stuff in life. It’s choosing to believe things are better than they appear or they will get better. I’ve made a choice as an adult to be an optimist and it’s something you can train yourself to be too. Here are 5 reasons optimistic parenting will make you a better mom.
1. Reduces Feelings of Sadness, Depression, and Anxiety
When my daughter was little, I’d get so anxious after dropping her off at school. Would she be safe? Did she have kids to play with? To get through, I reminded myself of the school’s safety measures and told myself my daughter was friendly and would certainly make friends. I felt better, and usually, my worries were for nothing. With optimistic parenting, I began to feel more confident in myself too—even happier.
2. Makes You Assume the Best
We can let sickness, the news, and subtle slights from others bring us down. But when we look at the world with optimism, we are less likely to dwell on what’s wrong or judge others in a negative way. My daughter’s friend Rachel never responded to a recent invitation. I could tell my daughter had jumped to a conclusion in her mind—that her friend wasn’t her friend anymore. So I pointed out another, less hurtful possible explanation for her friend’s silence: “Maybe she was out of town.” It turned out her whole family had gotten COVID and they’d holed up for days. When my daughter saw Rachel again, they planned a new day to get together. Seeing the world in a more positive light is a great coping skill, especially if you or your kids are prone to imagining the worst.
3. Fosters Stronger and More Successful Relationships
Because my daughter didn’t assume the worst with Rachel, their friendship didn’t suffer for a second. I, too, am trying to give others the benefit of the doubt and stay more optimistic with friends, coworkers, and family. Being an optimistic mom gives our kids a chance to explain themselves if they do something wrong and establishes more trust between you if they know you’re not going to assume the worst in them.
4. Reduces the Harmful Effects of Stress on the Body
According to the Mayo Clinic, stress can cause headaches, digestive issues, and sleep problems, which can lead to overeating, anger issues, and social withdrawal. Having an optimistic approach to parenting means adopting a healthier attitude. Bad things may happen, but you’re going to handle the hardship better as an optimist. At first, when my daughter broke her wrist, I thought our beach vacation was ruined. But I flipped the switch before the problem could stress me out. That summer’s vacation turned out different from previous ones, and not because of the cast but because we looked for—and found—new ways to have fun.
5. Allows You to Look Forward With Hope
Becoming resilient comes from experiencing setbacks and finding the silver lining. If we can model optimistic parenting for our children, we will show them a more hopeful and positive future. We’re not ignoring the negative aspects of life, but we’re not letting them defeat us either. Hope says, “Today is tough, but tomorrow will be better.” While some people naturally have a more optimistic view of life, many of us have to work at it. But it’s doable. Having optimism is something anyone can learn. It’s how my friend Liz chooses to live her life. By doing so, she’s helped me be a happier person and a better mom too.
Becoming resilient comes from experiencing setbacks and finding the silver lining
How has optimistic parenting helped you be a better mom?