Monday, July 19, 2004

Worried? You should be!

Here's a sort of painfully ironic research finding: It turns out that pregnant women who worry a lot give birth to someone to worry about. According to Belgian psychologists, there was a strong correlation between mothers who experienced high levels of anxiety and stress during pregnancy and children with anxiety disorders and behavior problems. The thought is that the kids were "programmed" in the womb to be anxious, hyperactive or aggressive. So isn't that just a kick in the pants: The reason your kid is stressing you out now may be that you stressed him out then.

These findings are of particular interest to me because my mother was a great believer in the theory that the best way to prevent bad things from happening was to worry about them. She would often lay awake nights casting about for things to worry about, fearing that if she missed something it would inevitably happen. I'd always thought my own anxious nature was some sort of genetic hand-me-down from her, but maybe she worried so much on my behalf while she was pregnant with me that she made me a worryer then and there. Either way -- hey, not my fault! And not my fault if my adopted kids are anxious or hyper or aggressive, right? Birthmother stress did that, hon. And I'll cling to that until the study about adoptive moms worrying their kids into stress overload comes along. You Belgian psychologists, you just take your time, 'kay?

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