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Fear and Parenting

Posted by Patience on March 26, 2010 at 7:00 AM
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I looked sadly at my end of winter feet, the kind that desperately need a pedicure. I had a small freckle/mole that always looked a little weird but it has been there for years except I noticed it now has a friend. The second looked even more suspicious and lead me to Dr. Google which is almost always a bad idea. Before I knew it, I was showing the soles of my feet to friends asking their opinion and trying not to freak out while dramatic thoughts danced through my head.

Well meaning family called expressing their concern while friends with furrowed brows said, "I think you should get that checked out, I mean I'm sure it's nothing, but you should totally get that checked." Even my extraordinarily laid back husband looked a little worried. I went home and looked at about 1,000 pictures of melanomas, studying and comparing my own spot. Around the same time I got an e-mail from a friend asking me to light a candle for a mom going into surgery with an aggressive bone cancer while her husband and two small children waited at home.

I started to try to imagine what she must be feeling. My own fears over a small brown spot lingered while hers over a large tumor on her spine blew my mind. Who can even entertain the thought of leaving our small children motherless? If it could happen to her, could it happen to me? I lit my candle and hoped she and her family would have all they needed to face whatever might come their way. I felt sort of silly for my worries for myself and yet even still, fear had a very strong stake in my day.

Fear and worry seem to go with parenting. Do you think he will ever talk? Does she eat enough vegetables? What school should we send them to? Is he really ready for kindergarten? Will my divorce scar my kids forever? Does she have friends at school? What if he doesn't play sports? Will they remember their bike helmets if I don't remind them? Are they safe at the mall alone with their friends? What am I gonna do when he can drive? Will he get into a good college? Have I given my kids enough? Am I enough?

What place does fear have in our lives as parents? Is it robbing us of our everyday joys or does it serve to protect us and our children? Do we channel it to hear the call to live our best lives or does it cause us to stumble?
Tell us what you think in the comments. Are you a "worried" kind of parent?


Amanda writes...

To keep fear at bay, honestly, I just figure that people much less qualified than me have been raising kids for thousands of years; and if I am vigilant for the most part and use common sense, my kids already have a head start.

Zoey writes...

I've been prone to worry since I was a child - my response to growing up with little control over a constantly changing environment. With my Buddhist faith, I'm learning that worry, like anger, can be useful when it alerts you to a potential problem requiring your attention. Worry for worry's sake just gnaws at your soul. When you've done all you can to address a situation, it's best to let it go.

Naba writes...

I worry just like almost all parents do. Since my kids are still young, I try to teach them about important things I think they can handle knowing now. I will worry about other things as they grow. I have family and friends who will probably help me by reinforcing what I say to them so hopefully they will heed it better. Some things I will have to leave up to God.

Ang writes...

I have never been a parent who was particularly worried *for* my child, but I do find I have worried a lot more about my own (and partner's) health after becoming a parent. That became a reality when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2009. I've learned over the past year of treatment and recovery that fear is just a part of life. It's real, and those bad things really can happen, but I now try to simply acknowledge it and go on with my life. Although my prognosis is very good, I want to make the best of however much time I've got - which is something none of us know - and if I let fear dominate my emotional life I'm missing out on the here and now, where I can be present for my child and try to make a difference in the world. It may sound pat and easy when I say it, but believe me it is an ongoing process, an everyday journey of relearning to accept my fear.

PatienceAuthor Profile Page writes...

Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and story Ang...I hope your health continues to improve, much joy to you and your family.

Becky writes...

As someone who lost 2 dear friends who lives were just beginning - one just falling in love and the other with 3 small children - both had extremely rare cancers that took them in a blink, I have learned that life is full of unknowns. A lesson I take to heart. I worry like any parent but through the worry, I try to make the most and best out of our experiences. I can only hope that I'm helping my children grow in wonderful ways that will help them later in life - whether I'm here or not. Not that I don't my share of nagging and begging to be left alone at times...but we just enjoy life as much as possible.

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