Unfortunately, you can’t declare “parenting” as a college major and babies are not delivered with how-to manuals. Whether you are a new parent nervous about the responsibility of your precious, tiny bundle or wonder whether your hysterical toddler’s screams are causing life-long damage to their psyche, the fears we consider when raising another human being can sometimes seem more daunting than the actual act of parenting.
In the beginning, many parents fear their lack of experience will somehow prevent them from being good parents. Because their infants are not able to articulate their needs, parents are relying on their own interpretive powers to deduce whether or not the cry of a baby signals hunger, colic or pain from an unknown ailment. It is daunting to wonder whether cold symptoms or a cough are not signs of something more serious as your baby’s immune system is still new.
As children get older, parents start to question whether they are making the right decision in their efforts to both shield their children from danger as well as provide opportunities for children to grow and become autonomous. With a plethora of media reports that seem to conflict at every turn, it is difficult to know which rules to follow and which to disregard:
- Getting kids on the computer provides them future job opportunities
- Letting kids on the computer opens them up to cyber predatorsJoining sports teams provides opportunities for lifelong healthy competition and fitness
- Kids are overscheduled and need to relax and enjoy creative free time
- Parents who work are teaching their children to follow their dreams
- Parents who stay home can take a more active role in helping with their interests and studies
- Emotionally cater to your child so they always feel secure
- Teach your child that in the real world, things don’t always revolve around them
The parenting messages we get are quite contradictory, ultimately proving that there is not one correct methodology. And even between a father and mother the fears surrounding parenting may be quite different. While a mother might worry whether she is doing enough to emotionally support her child, a father’s fear might be grounded in providing for a financially stable future, and whether the family will be able to send the grown child to college.
All of this aside, many parents face fears that are based on their individual experiences, whether they lost a parent when they were young and now are scared that they themselves might not be present due to an unforeseeable circumstance, or that they don’t want to replicate the parenting mistakes that they consider their own parents have made.
What IS important is that it is very normal to be scared as a parent, as we all have the best intentions for our children – we all wish to provide our children with the best opportunities to find success and happiness. And sometimes just exploring the basis of our trepidation, or knowing that there are other parents who share the same fears is enough to make us feel better and united in our goal of being a good parent.
So tell us, what scares you the most about being a parent?