Make us your home page

If you have anxiety issues, think hard before having children

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

If you have anxiety issues, think hard before having children

Washington: I'm 34 and have bad anxiety issues which I control (barely) with medications.

My husband and I would like to have two kids; we planned on waiting till my anxiety was under control, but I'm starting to suspect that will never really happen.

Would it be absolutely indefensible to go ahead with getting pregnant anyway?

Carolyn: You know how you are when your anxiety gets the better of you, and you know how often that happens.

You also know how available others would be to "cover" for you during a bad spell.

And you know what it's like to be a kid, and what it's like to have parents.

So: Would you like to have a parent who behaves the way you do?

No parent is going to be a bargain 100 percent of the time; all are human, and that humanity is going to be on display for the kids (probably even more than it is for others).

But wanting kids isn't a good enough reason to have them.

You also have a responsibility to think hard about the life you'd give them, and try to predict whether that life will be a means to a healthy adulthood, or an obstacle to one.

Any potential parent has this responsibility, not just anxious ones.

You make your most responsible guess, act on it and own that choice ever after.

No one else can answer for you on question of whether to wed

Somewhere, USA: What do you say to a friend who has asked for advice about anxiety over her upcoming nuptials? "Anxiety" is her word choice; she has not specifically said, "I have doubts that John is the one." She has asked me for help and I'm honestly not sure what to say. I remember being nervous for my own wedding, but there was never a doubt in my mind that my now-husband was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

I want to be able to provide thoughtful advice to my friend, but I also know she's looking for someone "to tell her what to do" (again, her words). This decision has to be one that she comes to on her own terms. FYI, the anxiety has been occurring for about eight months now, we've had more than one conversation about this, and she has seen a counselor, but not regularly.

Carolyn: Tell her to call it off. In these words: "You're asking me to tell you what to do?" (She, presumably, says yes.) "Okay, then call it off."

Whatever she says at this point might be telling enough to move the decision-blockage, but if instead she just asks you why you said that, then tell her it's not about the guy, or about her, or about the relationship. It's just that "no" is the only choice you have: She's the only one who has the standing to say "yes."

It's more of a gambit than it is actual advice to her, but someone with this level of emotional paralysis needs a flick to the forehead. And more consistent attendance at her therapist's office, assuming she or he is a good one.

If you have anxiety issues, think hard before having children 06/06/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 4, 2010 5:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours