Parenting Fears And Reality Checks

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Parenting is a cacophony of emotions. When you’re not thoroughly worn out from sleepless nights, exhausted from good parenting days, or simply just trying to make it through, there’s always something to worry about. Someone you know lost a child, someone in your area had a child go missing, someone who knows someone who was a really good parent ended up with a junkie-teen. Just like people love to share a terrible birth story, and tend to shun those who had wonderful birth stories, everyone loves to share the bad stories about what happened to someone else, or how another child turned out, and it doesn’t really matter – to some extent – how they were parented, it’s normally the mother’s fault.

Welcome to the February 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Fears

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about parenting fears.

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It’s the fear of these things that make parents so susceptible to marketing, spending (often wasting) money on the latest gadgets and basically living our lives doing everything we can to prevent something bad, and encourage something good happening to the little people entrusted to us.

The scary thing though? Like most of us, I know this, but I still have three particular fears where my two little girls are concerned:

In no particular order, there’s the fear of death, kidnapping and failure.

cuddlesMost of us know someone who has lost a baby – born or unborn – or a child. I never knew how ‘common’ infant loss was till I became a mother myself. And then, because Ameli’s birth was such an amazing, enriching and empowering experience, I was terrified when Aviya’s turn came. For  months I really worried, almost believed that I would never get to hold her alive. I was so worried something was going to go wrong in her birth. I mean, what are the chances that I could be so blessed, twice.

And now, even though I am a confident second time mother, and even though I am confident and relatively experienced in my use of homoeopathic and herbal remedies over conventional medicines for most of the girls’ minor ailments, when Aviya, specifically, gets ill, this niggely, horrible voice in the back of my head forces me to question myself, reminding me of that ‘feeling’. It takes a lot of pulling myself together to trust my intuition as much with this lovely second child of mine.

While many of us know someone who has been touched by the loss of a child, very few of us – me included – knows personally someone who has had a child kidnapped. And yet, it’s probably one of the biggest fears a parent faces. I can’t imagine how parents who have lost a child this way go on. I can’t imagine the horror. And yet, the statistics on ‘stranger danger‘ and someone doing something to our children are so different to what our fears justify.

stranger dangerIf you’re a parent who lives in the shadow of this fear, I highly recommend Sue Palmer’s book, Toxic Childhood (US Link). It highlights how rare something like a stranger kidnapping really is, but how, because we see the lost and forlorn little face, and the obviously heartbroken parents in our living room, on repeat, day after day after day, it imprints on our brains to the point that we start almost identifying each replay as a new occurrence.  (I actually recommend this book for a ton of other reasons too, it doesn’t make you feel guilty, but does encourage you to see a lot of reality in parenting and child raising. It’s one of my top three parenting book recommendations!)

Failure. Failure is a big one, and we all get it from the day our babies are conceived. Didn’t have a natural birth? Will I be able to bond with my child? Didn’t breastfeed? You and your child will probably both die of cancer. Didn’t babywear? Your poor child will lag behind in literacy for, like, ever. Didn’t co-sleep? Poor kid will have intimacy issues for the rest of their lives. You sent them to nursery school for four hours a week? Oh, the drama. Didn’t send them to a Montessori/Steiner/Waldorf/Forest school?  What kind of parent are you!?

Pretty much everything we do is wrong to someone. Praise your kids? Wrong. Don’t praise your kids? Wrong. Send them to school? Wrong. Keep them at home? Wrong . Feed them grass-fed meat? Wrong. Feed them no meat? Wrong. Make everything from scratch? Did you sprout the grains first? Well… did you?

I think a lot of parenting and enjoying parenting comes down to three things:

Let go – of the things you can’t control. 

Be realistic – in accordance to what’s real, your circumstances and what you can really do

Trust your instinct - listen to your child, listen to the voice inside you, and when you’re confident in your choices, no one can make you feel judged. And when you’re not confident, do your own research. 

If you can – if I can – let go of things I don’t control, be realistic about my limitations and abilities, circumstances and finances, and trust that everything I do is for the best of my children and our family, the fears are a lot easier to quell, and motherhood is a much more fulfilling, enjoyable ride.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants (list will be final around 5pm PST February 11):

  • When Parents’ Fears Escalate — If we didn’t self-doubt, we probably wouldn’t care enough about our children to struggle with understanding them. But how do we overcome self-doubt? Read advice from Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., guest posting today at Natural Parents Network.
  • What ifs of addiction — After seeing how addictions of adult children is badly hurting a family close to her heart, Hannah at HannahandHorn shares her fears for her own child.
  • Sharing My Joy — Kellie at Our Mindful Life shares her fear that others think she is judgmental because she makes alternative choices for her own family.
  • Building My Tribe Fearlessly — A meteorite hit Jaye Anne at Tribal Mama’s family when she was seven years old. Read the story, how she feels about that now, and how she is building her tribe fearlessly.
  • Fear: Realized — Laura from Pug in the Kitchen shares how her fear of car accidents was realized and how she hopes to be able to use her efforts to overcome the remaining fears to help her children overcome their own.
  • I’m a Negligent Helicopter Parent — For Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow, the line between helicopter parenting and negligent parenting is not so cut and dried.
  • My Greatest Fear For My Child — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama admits that she has struggled with not allowing her fears to control her and how the reality of this was blown wide open when she became a mother.
  • Procactive Steps to Calm Parenting Fears — Every parent has certain fears related to dangerous situations, That Mama Gretchen shares ways she is preparing herself and her children for emergencies.
  • Homeschooling Fears – Will My Children Regret Being Homeschooled? — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares an interview with her now-adult children that answers a question she had throughout their homeschooling.
  • An Uneasy Truce — Homeschooler and recent convert to unschooling, Tam at tinsenpup shares just a few of the things she tries to keep in mind when fear and insecurity begin to take hold.
  • Fearing the worst, expecting the best — Tarana at Sand In My Toes writes about fears that come with parenting, and why we must overcome them.
  • Can I be the parent I want to be? — Amanda at Postilius confronts her struggle to peacefully parent a preschooler
  • Out of Mind, Out of Fear — How does Jorje of Momma Jorje deal with her pretty steep, long-term fears regarding her son’s future?
  • I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts — One of Dionna at Code Name: Mama’s fears of parenting is that she will get so caught up in the monotony, the details of homeschooling, the minutiae of everyday life, the routine of taking care of a household – that she will forget to actually be present in the moment with her children.
  • Beware! Single Mom Camping — Erica at ChildOrganics shares her first adventures as a single mom. She laughed, she cried, she faced her fears.
  • Parenting Fears And Reality Checks — Luschka from Diary of a First Child shares her three biggest fears as a parent – that most parents share – looks at the reality behind these fears, and offers a few suggestions for enjoying parenting.
  • Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…Mother Goutte tells us the story of a pink rabbit that disappeared, came back, and became the symbol of her worst parenting fear…
  • Roamingsustainablemum considers whether allowing your children freedom to explore the world safely is harder now than in the past.
  • Meeting my parenting fears head-on — Lauren at Hobo Mama had many fears before she became a parent. Learn how they all came true — and weren’t anywhere near as scary as she’d thought.
  • Don’t fear the tears — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger worried that letting her children cry when going to sleep was tantamount to the dreaded parenting moniker, CIO. She discusses what actually happened after those teary nights, and how she hopes these lessons can carry forward to future parenting opportunities.
  • Will I Still be a Good Mom? — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot worries about her mothering skills now that breastfeeding is no longer the top priority.
  • Pregnancy Fears: It Happened to My Sisters, It Will Happen to Me… — Kristen at Baby Giveaways Galore discusses the difficulties with pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding that the women in her family have had and how she overcame them.
  • Fears — Meegs at A New Day talks about how her fears before parenting led to a better understanding of herself and her desires for her daughter.


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17 thoughts on “Parenting Fears And Reality Checks

  1. What a great post! Relevant and funny. I hadn’t really thought about kidnapping until recently, when someone broke in to our house and left while we were upstairs asleep, and then I really started having panic attacks. I will have to check out the book you recommend! Thanks for the reality checks, too. You’re right on.
    Mercedes’s last blog post ..Will I Still Be A Good Mom?

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    Luschka Reply:

    Oh gosh Mercedes. Having been victim of that myself – fortunately before children – I can imagine how frightening that must have been for you! I hope the book helps alleviate some of your fears xx

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  2. Your post made me think of that quote : “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone.
    Thank you for the reference to Toxic Childhood, it sounds really interesting! x
    Mother Goutte’s last blog post ..Parenting fear : to kill a pink rabbit…

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  3. I really enjoyed this post. My mother in particular has a lot of fears she likes to share with me. She doesn’t like that I allow my kids to play in the yard themselves or get the mail without me. She is terrified they’ll be kidnapped. I have a new book to read, thanks for the recommendation. Perhaps I’ll be able to share with my mom ;-)
    Thanks!
    Erica @ Childorganics’s last blog post ..Beware! Single Mom Camping

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    Luschka Reply:

    Thank you Erica! I think it’s true that a lot of our parenting is a reflection on how we were parented. Definitely get your mom reading Toxic Childhood ;)

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  4. I loved Toxic Childhood too, it is one of the few parenting books I have read :)

    Failure is such an emotive subject for mothers, I can’t help feeling that becoming a mother brings to the surface all the insecurities that we have as we are growing up. We can bury them and live with them when we only have ourselves to care for, but when we become responsible for another person one who is utterly dependant all of sudden those insecurities loom large. We question our abilities all the time, I wish though that we could be left to get on with without interference from those who think they know best for our children, they need to back off as a mother knows their child best.
    sustainablemum’s last blog post ..Roaming

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    Luschka Reply:

    I always recommend Toxic Childhood to people, but try to say it’s not really a ‘parenting’ book so much as a ‘life with children’ book. I think people are put off by the idea of another parenting book, you know.
    You are right about motherhood highlighting our own insecurities, without a doubt!

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  5. Your 3 things are an excellent measure! re: stranger kidnapping, I just read Protecting the Gift, and it’s insane how low the chances are of someone unknown kidnapping your child. (The chances are higher with someone you do know – usually it’s in the middle of a nasty divorce.) Kidnapping is really not on my list of “top parenting fears,” but I get why it freaks parents out – the media really preys on those fears.
    Dionna @ Code Name: Mama’s last blog post ..I Don’t Homeschool to Manage My Kids’ Transcripts

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    Luschka Reply:

    I think that’s very much the point of (that part) of Toxic Childhood Dionna – that it’s a really low chance, yet we’re all filled with terror at the thought because it fills our screens on repeat, even through our viewing preferences (I love SVU & CSI, for example!)

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  6. Lauren @ Hobo Mama

    Your paragraph about how we do everything wrong made me laugh. It’s too true. I’m going to have to read Toxic Childhood — it sounds like just what I need.

    I have those same three big fears. I remember when Alrik had a fever, and I was trying to reassure myself it was “just” a fever, when I remembered all those children throughout history who’ve died of a fever! Oh, so very reassuring. And then we did lose Mikko in a toy store for about 25 minutes — police came and all, longest 25 minutes of my life imagining the very worst. He was hiding — very well — behind some big boxes on a shelf. But those fears are definitely always at the back of my mind, just waiting to pop past my rational side. I like your tips for getting through them!
    Lauren @ Hobo Mama’s last blog post ..Giveaway: $1,000 gift card from silky-smooth Suave Professionals® Moroccan Infusion Body Care {2.28; US}

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    Luschka Reply:

    Thanks Lauren, I seriously recommend that book to every new parent. It deals with a host of things, like real food and play, childcare and education, protecting children from aggressive marketing and stuff like that. I can’t believe I’ve never reviewed it, actually! One for the list ;) It is really worth the read though! I remember when you lost Mikko. I can’t imagine what that was like for you!

    [Reply]

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