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Fear and Parenting  

Since I am starting a series on fear in relationship this month, I thought I would write briefly about fear and parenting as well. Much of what applies to general relationships will apply to parenting, but there are also some specific parenting fears.

I want to address the fact that many parents experience a lot of fear about what might happen and can happen to their children. We certainly live in a society where we are overfed tragedy. The nightly news is mostly bad, the victims helpless, and the world seems to be a scary place. Granted, there is real danger, but it seems to be exaggerated. For instance, it seems that child abduction is relatively common and that its incidence is increasing. In fact, pretty much the opposite is true. Child abduction is rare, incredibly rare if you are talking about abduction by strangers. And crime statistics suggest that the incidence of missing children is going down slightly. Wouldn’t know that by the news.

A big part of fear and worry for parents comes from them feeling responsible for keeping their children safe. That is a good thing, but the reality is too much protection is bad for children. Children need enough freedom to explore new experiences and exploration is going to lead to some accidents and some hurt, both physical and emotional.

Many thoughts about controlling that aren’t very realistic. I recall the parent I once worked with who was wracked with guilt because their child had fallen out of a tree in the back yard and broken their arm while the parent was across the street at a neighbors. They said, “I should have been home so my child wasn’t hurt.” I tried to gently point out that unless they forbid tree climbing (a bad idea) and enforced it, or followed their child around with a big cushion, they likely still would have broken their arm. And that was OK. A broken arm is unpleasant, but not a horrible thing.

I’m not encouraging you to be ridiculous and ignore your children’s risky behaviors. But be realistic and focus more on enhancing your connection to your children and less on keeping them safe.