Although I refuse to give in to my parenting fears, being a mom is a pretty scary proposition. You learn as you go, hoping for the best but often expecting the worst. We all joke about how utterly unprepared we are for the challenges we face as parents, but most of the time, it’s no laughing matter.
No matter how hard you try, sometimes your best simply isn’t good enough; sometimes things just don’t go the way you wish they would. It’s hard, which doesn’t take away from how much I love being a mom.
Parenting brings out the best and the worst in all of us because it makes us hyper aware of everything we can’t control. My greatest fear has always been losing my kids, but that’s far from where the list ends.
I still remember making sure my newborn son was breathing while he slept, or the angst I felt when he, my eldest child, began preschool. Just knowing I couldn’t be there by his side to protect him or to reassure him if he got scared, gave me anxiety. When he began riding the school bus, I started stressing over potential bullies.
With my second child, it didn’t get much better. When my then 9 year old daughter would get into the car and burst into tears after “the worst day ever” because her best friend decided she isn’t cool enough to play with her, I felt her pain intensely. All I wanted to do is protect her.
Don’t let parenting fears rule you
But I know I can’t live in fear. I’m learning to accept that my children need to fight their own battles. They need to feel confident enough that if they fall, they can get up. For me it’s key to guide, empower, and comfort them. Then all I can do is hope that it turns out well. Sadly, there are no guarantees.
It’s one thing to be aware of what can go wrong and quite another to live in fear of it. I’ve been thinking lately about everything that has been holding me back as a parent and decided to confront my fears so I can be a better mom. Perhaps my own journey can help you.
I’m scared of dying and leaving my kids
Too many nights I have wondered what would happen if I wasn’t here for my kids — to the point where I developed insomnia. When I board planes, I pray with all my might that I will make it back safe and sound to my children. Whenever I get sick, my brain goes into overload.
How do I deal with these thoughts? I start by acknowledging that they are normal for a parent to have. I cannot control what happens to me, but I can focus on what I can do.
That means, planning for my kids’ future (I have a will and college funds set up) and learning to minimize the risks. For example, now I am taking much better care of myself so I can stay healthy.
In many ways being aware of our own mortality helps us make healthier choices, but taken to the extreme, it can paralyze us.
I’m scared of “ruining” my kids for life
Many of us have had less than perfect childhoods, and because of this we can’t help but wonder how much we are messing up our own kids without even knowing it. For some, it has led to parents being overly lenient or blurring the lines when it comes to discipline. In my case, I’ve always preferred to set up clear expectations, rules, and consequences. I believe you can discipline your child without abusing or scarring them for life. Also, since I do make mistakes (we are only human!), I lead by example by acknowledging if I yelled too much and then apologizing for my mistake. By showing my kids that I acknowledge own my transgressions I hope to inspire them to do the same. I’ve learned to let go of trying to be the perfect mom and am making peace with the notion of trying my best. Why? Because it is more realistic and makes me happier. In the end, a happier parent has a happier child.
I’m scared that I will fail to protect them
Whether you are scared of not being able to catch your toddler when she falls or stress about bullying on the bus, it all boils down to that protective instinct we feel towards our children. I don’t think we ever stop worrying about our kids, even when they become adults.
The best way for us to deal with this fear is to accept that we can’t be there 24/7 to guard our kids against all evils. It’s our job to empower our kids so they can learn to protect themselves. We need to teach our children to ask for help, to stand up for themselves, and most importantly, to reach out when something’s wrong.
We will not be able to prevent every fall, every skinned knee, or mean word that will hurt our kids, but we are able to teach them to stand up and be resilient.
What fears do you have? How do you deal with parenting challenges that scare you?