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  • Writer's pictureNeil Parekh

Will My Daughter Learn Anxiety From Me?

Updated: Apr 23

I suffer from anxiety and occasional depression. Does that mean my daughter has to as well? As parents, we know that we are always being watched. From a baby’s earliest moments, they are looking to us to help them understand the world around them. We teach them how to eat, how to walk, how to tie their shoelaces. We teach them how to be kind to others.

Do we also teach them how to worry? How to beat up on oneself? How to feel like an imposter? Do we also teach them how to be a perfectionist? How to hold oneself to high standards that we can’t possibly meet, setting ourselves up for disappointment? Do we teach them how to feel like everything is spinning out of control?

There are many things we worry about as parents. When you suffer anxiety and occasional depression like me, you worry that your child is going to adopt these behaviors that you’re trying so hard to overcome.

When my now-ten-year old daughter was a few years younger, I worried that she was going to start picking up my emphasis on perfectionism. I don’t ask others around me to be perfect, but I sure do demand perfection of myself. When I saw her getting upset with herself a few times after slipping up while drawing, I realized I had to do something.

The next time I made a mistake while producing a show – I can think of a particular time when I thought it was a big deal and a client barely noticed – I made it a point to come out of my office and tell my daughter what happened. I wanted her to know that I’d made a mistake and that it was ok to talk about it.


My college roommate, Jason Wiser, suggested this book for Emily at the time, "Beautiful Oops." From the blurb, "Unique in every respect, this book is full of pop-ups, lift-the-flaps, tears, holes, overlays, bends, smudges, and more, each demonstrating how blunders can become wonders." It's a great resource.


It goes deeper than just making mistakes, though. What is she thinking when she sees me overwhelmed with a project, paralyzed by anxiety. What is she thinking when I shut down and crawl under the covers for a little nap because I just don’t want to deal with anything?

My mental health affects me and those around me. My wife can take care of herself. It’s my daughter I’m worried about.

Join us for the second episode of, “Shining Light on Shadows: A Candid Conversation About Mental Health” Thursday, February 22 at 7pm ET / 6pm CT. We are going to focus on the impact that mental health challenges have on our children.

We’ll be live on Facebook, Twitter,* LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram*and my website. If you can’t watch the show live, you can always watch it later, at your convenience.

*The links to Twitter and Instagram go to my main page. I won't know the specific links until after we go live.

Dawn Helmrich, my co-host, and Candace Sanchez, our guest on Episode 2, wrote their own blog posts exploring the impact of their mental health on their own children. Please read them if you have the chance. The links are below.


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