Don't be Afraid


Screw cleanliness. It's fearlessness that's next to Godliness. In my opinion, anyway. Monday Today on Momversation we're talking about paranoia and parenting which I've blogged about ad nauseum, wrote like five chapters on the subject in my book and do what I can to crusade against it (fear) in my daily life as a parent and human being. 

I believe that fear in any form is dangerous, that the worst thing a parent can do is teach their child to be afraid. That "bubbles" are cruel with a tendency to stifle and suffocate, spread fear and thus anger, an inability to trust people, an inability to trust one's self. Keeping a child "locked up out of harms way" will scar them faster and far more furiously than "the perils of life" ever will. 

Most birds would rather die than live in cages with clipped wings. 

Of course, it's only natural for a parent to feel fearful at times. Fearful of the unknown. Fearful on account of knowing too much. We seem to be bombarded daily by horror stories that leave us panicked, clinging to our children. How can a mother not feel protective of her child in times like these?

I too find myself wrestling with the alligators in my chest when I overhear stories of a sick child or worse.

But freak accidents happen. Every day presents a potential doomsday scenario. A meteor could very well bash my head in while I sit at my desk, typing. Or your head as you sit at your desk reading this! What's that behind you? AH!

Just kidding. But come on, now. Knowing that life is a playground of unpredictability and chance encounters, is it worth risking our children's sanity by equipping them with safety nets at all times?

It may be impossible for a child to get abducted while on a leash but it's also pretty damn difficult for our children to skip whilst wearing armor.

Besides.  Isn't it true that scary things follow those who are most fearful*?



What say you, ladies and gents? Agree? Disagree? Do you struggle with fear in your day-to-day lives? Do you have a hard time turning off the worry, now that you're a parent? Do you think the love we have for our children is what most provokes paranoia? Or has the media worked us all into a frenzy of AHHHHHH!?

Minds inquire. 

*Wait. Did I just reference The Secret? Oy, talk about scary.

GGC

58 comments:

Loukia | 11:48 AM

I am very afraid. I was always a hypocondriac, (sp?) and after becoming a mom, whoa - it just got worse. I had Purell on every countertop in my house so whoever visited knew the drill... this however did not stop my son at the age of 3 and 6 months to get a bad kidney infection, thus requiring hospitalization, IV meds, etc. etc. The fact that he did get sick actually made me worry even more. Being exposed to how many children are sick and in the hospital made me even more depresed. Then I relaxed and had a second baby and everyone could see the change in me... it was refreshing to be more relaxed and to worry less. I find that my second son is also more outgoing that baby number 1. But then my oldest son got pneumonia and was hospitalized and even required surgery... so my worry came back full force... and now I worry even when they get a cold. And about all the other stuff to worry about? Like other kids being mean to them when they start school, or getting abducted, or getting lost, or me having a heart attack if I a home alone with them? I worry about all that too. I think I might need therapy!

Loukia | 11:49 AM

oops, should say: "from getting a bad kidney infection..." sorry.

Loukia | 11:50 AM

I need therapy and a grammer lesson today. Sheesh. Sorry. Feel free to delete these last 2 comments.

Desiree Fawn | 11:51 AM

I tend to be fearless to fault when it comes to most things -- but that being said, my little one has been battling a fever and THAT is enough to throw me off the worry charts.

Meredith | 11:59 AM

Ah Miss Rebecca,

I love reading your blog, and love the momversation videos. This one in particular hit home with me, because I have a panic disorder. It runs in my family, and I can't help but freak out over the smallest minute things. I'm not even a mom yet, and I worry about what can happen to my kids one day.

Anyways, where I'm going with this is: I think your outlook is the one that every mother should have. You kind of have to roll with the punches and deal with things day to day, because no matter how hard you try, you can't stop everything. And yes, freaking out that much will give you an ulcer (or a panic attack in my case.) So thanks, for pointing out something that should be so common sense to us, but usually isn't.

Erin, Nick and Merrick | 11:59 AM

I am fearless when it comes to protecting others- I would stand in front of a bus in an attempt to save someone I love- mostly because I think I can stop said bus.
BUT- I am paranoid about how said love got themselves into the bus situation. Like, I know I can fight off a kidnapper/burgular- if I catch them in the act- but am fearful of them in general.

I have always been paranoid, but baby brought it out 100 fold.

MamaNeena | 12:02 PM

I try not to be afraid, but I think my concern falls under the 'influence of others' category. I know I can't protect my children from everything and I wouldn't want to. But, why do we have to 'let them go' when they are so young? Why, at 4 years old, can't I be concerned and protective of what my daughter is picking up at school, including words like 'loser' and 'I hate you.' We try to tell her what is right and wrong and how something can easily hurt another person's feelings, but I don't think I should ever have to be okay with that kind of influence...especially at such a young and influential age.

foodiemama | 12:13 PM

I agree, agree, agree. I think you saw my whatevs attitude about germs, dirt and the like.
You're right about the skipping w/armor... it's sad.
I cringe every time i hear about a person pouring over one of those neighborhood/local predator sites... remember the mom in knocked up?
I am sooooo glad to not be like that... so so happy my kid does is not growing in said bubble.. free to be is what we say round these parts..
free to be!!!!!

mpotter | 12:17 PM

i agree that there's too much fear in our parenting these days.
my little one is only 8mos, so i don't know yet exactly how i'll be...

but i'm already behind on the whole "babyproof the whole entire house" scenario. they'll have to learn about bumps and bruises eventually.

it's sad that these days there are so many things to worry about- which gets in the way of kids exploring their world (especially outside). it's sadder still that the moms on my street drive their child to the stopsign (which i can see from my house in the cul-de-sac) to get on the bus in the mornings!

i'm not a great risk-taker. so i definitely hope i can foster some of it in my daughter.
my husband used to build rafts and raft down the saluda river (among other things).... maybe the 2 of us will be what she needs.

here's hoping.

Jessi | 12:34 PM

I really try to not be scared and paranoid, because I completely agree with you. It's a little hard to practice what I preach, though. Even though I know that she's safer running around living her life, I still can't help but worry every time I hear about something going wrong for someone else.

I find it's also hard to know where to draw the lines. I live on a tiny, dead-end street in a very, very small town. My four year old is allowed to play alone outside as long as her dad and I know and as long as she stays in our yard. Too much freedom, not enough, I don't know. Is the parent whose four year old walks up the street all alone to play with my kid negligent or more enlightened than me? There's an abondoned house on a big lot across the street from me and lots of the neighborhood kids play on that lot and bike down it's hill and stuff, but I won't let my girl go because I'm afraid of her getting hurt in the falling down house. Some parents think I'm crazy for letting her go outside by herself at all and some parents think I'm crazy for not just letting her run the neighborhood.

Sonya | 12:43 PM

Hmmmm...I LIKE to think I am not a fearful parent, but while I am not hovering, I am totally praying for them when they are not with me. And I am SUCH a good worrier. Try not to, but it just is really hard to shut that worry off.

Sarah | 12:50 PM

Completely agree. Too much (manufactured, in my opinion) fear + paranoia, for sure! Maybe someday this will change, if something happens to my daughter while I'm busy being fearless. But for now, the only thing that freaks me out is seeing stories of violence towards children in the news or movies. And I can always turn those off.

Kendra | 1:05 PM

This is something I really struggle with. When it comes to what I worry about, it's really the accidents. I figure that the big stuff (the true-crime fears, if you will), I can do what I can to protect them, and then I have to let go. But with the accidents and more tangible fears, I really struggle. I was talking to another parent about this once, saying that we grew up in an era of no bicycle helmets; if you wore one, you were either a professional cycler or the kid whose mom made him wear a footbal helmet all the time. But now they're considered standard safety equipment. And he replied, "I know what you mean. My kids don't wear bike helmets. And the same thing is true with car seats." I chose to stop the conversation there, because I really didn't want to hear him tell me that his kids don't use car seats; to me, that's an obvious safety precaution. But his response made me realize that what we think is obvious isn't necessarily. Some things are obvious to me, like car seats. Some things, I don't know what to think but I'm going to trust that things have changed since I was a kid. And some things, like when they're old enough to play outside alone, is honestly still a mystery to me, and my oldest is 5. In my heart, I know I'm a worrier, but I try not to let that lead me toward bad decisions. I hope I'm doing okay.

mames | 1:07 PM

I am with you in the 'no fear' camp. It is not that I do not have it, just that I try not to cultivate it. I am the mama that lets the boys explore straight pins and scissors and knives, while I am there (usually). How else will they learn what danger is? My husband is a good balance, not afraid but cautious about stuff.

I try not to watch those horrible news segments about the curtain pulls and their danger, I figure my common sense will tell me what I need to look out for.

Having said that, there are moments when I am paralyzed at the thought of losing one of them, when I think about a mama I know who lost one of her twins, it is like acid burning inside....but I have no control over these things and have to let those thoughts go.

Fear should not be a legacy we leave to our children, not when they have to be so brave to take on the world as it is now.

mare | 1:22 PM
This comment has been removed by the author.
mare | 1:23 PM

Fearlessness is next to Godliness. As a Buddhist non-procreating (forgive me) human, I think that may be one of the BEST quotes ever when applied.

Good stuff here.

GingerB | 1:25 PM

Fear? A daily does comes with motherhood. My greatest fears relate to the specific medical condition of my infant daughter, but the fears for my toddler's pretmaturity issues have pretty well passed with time, as she left the woods behind. Now I think she might walk on water if the idea struck her.

I love your approach, Rebecca. I agree that children can't skip wearing armor, but I have my eye on the flasher who lives across the street and the first time I see his wee-wee I'll go over and yank it off before he can show it to my girls. Wait, I don't sound paranoid, I sound angry!!

Martina | 1:54 PM

Ironic... a meteor was spotted flying over our area this morning. WATCH YOUR BACK!

Stacy | 2:03 PM

"It may be impossible for a child to get abducted while on a leash but it's also pretty damn difficult for our children to skip whilst wearing armor."

Damn, girl! That may be my new all-time favorite parenting quote. You could write another book and put nothing but that line in it, and I'd buy it. ;o)

I always swore I wouldn't be "that mother". You know, the one who's following her baby on the playground, who won't let her kid spend the night with friends, who calls a thousand times a day if she has to be away from her family. But then I had a baby boy who is my heart and soul and life, and the thought that something might happen to him, that he might suffer any kind of physical or mental or emotional pain, is enough to cripple me at times. My 23-year-old "cool mom" self could very easily turn into the mom who buys stock in Purell and doesn't go to the park because the "big kids" might knock her two year old off the slide.

It's a daily battle. Reminding myself that my job is not just to protect him, but to to nurture him, to prepare him for a life that very often includes disappointment and pain and tears. You can't cope with those things until you've experienced them. So experience them he must.

I think some of it is a control issue. I have to remind myself all the time that my child is not my property...I have no ownership over this person. I have been blessed to have him in my life, but he is not a possession to be hoarded. He's a human to nurture and a blessing to share. My job is to teach him that life is beautiful and messy and scary and fun. And if someone gets hurt in the process? Well, that's the messy part. I remind myself that some of the most trying, sad, horrible things that happened to me are the things that have shaped me into the person I am today. I have to let him become the person he's meant to be.

summertime | 2:13 PM

My parents were pretty middle ground on a lot of things, (obvious) worrying included, and I like to think I hit the same middle ground. You know, it's important to lock up the poisons and stuff but pots and pans (even heavy ones at ground level) are at little dude's disposal. We don't have metal and glass tables but the ones we do have, have corners without bumpers. I watch him to try and prevent total death by corner, but maybe a bump or two will teach ya not to run full speed into the table, hmmm?

Sometimes it takes effort to not worry about every little thing, but it's important to me that my son learns about the world around him in a safe but not overbearingly so, totally sterile environment. I try to remind myself a little dirt is good for the immune system, or that he will walk when he walks, or that a monthly dose of french fries surrounded by his usual mainly healthy, processed foods free diet is OK, too. It's all about moderation, worrying included.

Heather Maxwell-Hall | 2:23 PM

i admire your outlook. 3 months to baby's arrival and i hope to fall into the same camp. i won't know til i get there, i suppose.

one thing that always strikes me is when i'm around parents who are anxious and uptight about their kids, i can FEEL it pretty intensely. if we as strangers/aquaintances can feel that anxiety, you KNOW the kids are feeling that ten fold...and that's kind of sad.

Anna | 3:25 PM

Hi Rebecca,

I'm expecting my first child in June and aspire to have your attitude about "child safety"(though we'll see how I behave once I'm actually a mother). I've been known to scoff at parents who put helmets on their kids when they go tobogganing. We NEVER wore helmets as kids! But as my wise friend (and mother of two) said: "Are you going to be the only mother who doesn't put a helmet on your kid?" ... I want my child to trust him/herself and feel confident and free. I do not want to suffocate him/her with worry. That's my goal. My mother is a serious worrier and I think on some level her fear impacted on my self-confidence. Hard to say. Anyway, thanks for raising the issue.

Strongrrl | 3:37 PM

I actually wrote a guest post recently over at To Think is To Create on this very topic.

Fear is something that can both paralyze and motivate me, and I've learned how to access the latter.

If you are interested, you can read the post here:
http://www.tothinkistocreate.com/2009/03/15/fear/

I try to channel some of what I can now apply to myself to my daughter, but it's not always easy. For me, it's the little things like walking down the stairs by herself that make me nervous! Ah well, we all do the best we can!

Erin | 5:46 PM

I can say that fear has been one of my biggest obstacles to overcome as a parent. But I agree, we cannot keep our children in bubbles- it doesn't do any good. As a parent who has always worried and worked to keep my kids safe, they have still had more illnesses and injuries than most kids I know. Ah, the irony of life.
I have written a couple of posts on my blog about this topic, but you might like this one if you get a chance to read it:

http://eliles-coloringoutsidethelines.blogspot.com/2008/09/risky-business.html

Thanks for your thoughtful topics as always,

Erin

Norman | 6:22 PM

I remember an episode from many years back. My sister's friend had a boy who was never permitted to play with guns - of any kind. The mother was a fanatic on the subject. Since I shot skeet and trap and owned several guns, I was sworn to silence on the subject. There was a steady campaign to separate that boy from western movies and/or war subject matter of any kind. Got the picture?. Needless to say, the boy grew to have a "fondness" for guns that proved to be a fatal problem. Mothers cannot stop our culture unless they are willing to lock their children away.
Living is a dangerous activity!

kata | 7:27 PM

Bad things can (and do) happen no matter what you do, whether you sit there waiting for them or not. I don't suppose one can ever completely turn off the worrying though. The trick is to find a way to be happy anyway. And that's what I want to teach my daughter: not that she should never be afraid, necessarily, but that she should do/see/enjoy the things she wants to anyway.

sunny | 7:40 PM

Fearless.

For example :

Just this Sunday I was giving my almost seven year old son a ride on a go cart at my parents'. Anyway, he wanted to go fast, so I obliged....moments later he was falling off of the thing and getting tire track burns on his arm. Horrible, I know. He was beyond mad at me.

And AFTER I knew he was fine. I looked at my mom and started laughing. Nervous laughter? I don't know. Maybe just the absolute ridiculousness of the situation. I just threw my son off a go cart and ran over him!

I asked my mom, "What is the matter with me? I'm not even shaken up over this!" And she really explained it quite well, "You never get upset over things because everyone else gets upset for you." So true. My husband, mom, sister, all freak out over things. Everything. If my the kids cough while eating my mom thinks they are choking to death. My husband is a nervous wreck at playgrounds. I could go on and on.

Maybe I am too lax about things, but I'm fun. And I know my kids will thank me for it in the long run.

Keri | 8:02 PM

Sexual abuse is very present in my small community, unfortunately. It has happened to every other friend of mine and a family member who in turn became a perpetrator. This is my biggest fear raising my kids in an environment where they can not be in the care of others except very few. We try to limit the number of people who care for our kids as well as talk to them about good touch, bad touch AND secret touch. I really hope that they are able to tell us if someone hurts them so that person doesn't do it again to them or to others. I try not to worry too much about it but sexual abuse really is the one thing that scares me because of the effects.

AVB | 9:11 PM

Grew up with parents who taught my sister and I to be cautious, but to embrace life and not be afraid. Despite this, we were both very fearful as children. We have, however, grown up to become quite fearless adults. I think with life experience it's possible to become "unafraid."

EdenSky | 9:12 PM

I tend to be pretty fearless when it comes to the day to day. My home is not baby proof, my kids run and play and get dirty and even play in the yard without me breathing down their necks and I don't worry too much. I have some vague, shapeless fears about their futures, but I'm pretty laid back on the whole.

Abby Johns | 11:43 PM

Oh. my. goodness. I battle fear and paranoia DAILY if not hourly. I have an anxiety disorder AND I lost my mother at an early age (20) which at times leaves me feeling paralyzed with fear. It isn't just about the safety of my child. It also includes a fear of offending others with my political and religious views. It is an every day battle. My mom was a worry wart, and I fear that I have inherited this quality. I want so badly to avoid passing it on to my daughter, and I think I can manage it if I turn off my television whenever the news comes on AND rely more heavily on my faith. The latter is definitely working for me thus far. Ava is only 4 months old. Deep breaths will be my way of life for at least the next 17 years and 8 months.

bok | 1:49 AM

I'm not a parent yet, but I spent my life worrying about my family until my heart was tired. Then my little sister, my heart, died when she was 16 in a freak accident.

I was 23 and can remember choking out the words to my father: "I was right to be worried. I was right all along".

Sadly I can't report a silver-lining moral to this tale (/fable). Life isn't a Disney script, and her loss didn't teach me to cast aside fear. My rational brain knows that her death proves that worrying is futile: the worst happened anyway, despite my worrying. But my irrational (dominant) self still holds on to the words I sobbed five years ago: "I was right to worry".

I hope I can reign it in when I have kids.

Cate Subrosa | 2:36 AM

Rebecca, you just made the transition from one of my favourite bloggers to my parenting guru. I will not raise my child to live in fear. Thank you.

Nutmeg | 5:42 AM

So... Growing up I had several made for TV movie bad things happen to me. Seriously the poster child for the happy looking normal girl next door who has secretly had horrible things happen to her. Not surprisingly I have an anxiety disorder.

But get this. I'm on board with the relaxed about things with my kid. He's Two now. I NEVER had that "nervous first time parent" thing. In fact it took us nearly a year of completely and totally constant coughing and multiple bouts of turning blue before we finally took him to a doctor about it (we TOLD a doctor about the blue thing and he wasn't super concerned as it can be normal and the boy wasn't ill seeming at the time, just so you don't think we are neglectful)...

Anyway, people were always looking at our house and asking us if we were going to cover our radiators (not hot enough to burn) in case he bumped his head on them, or pad the corners or etc etc. My line has always been if he probably won't loose an arm or require more than a couple of stitches or incur major head trauma... it's okay. We can deal with bruises and kiss skinned knees.

I imagine walking him to the end of the block and sending him off down the street, to cross several blocks and walk down to kindergarten on his own. I walked to kindergarten through the woods by myself (except when the principle walked me home and told my mom not let me until further notice, as there was a rapist hiding in the woods).

And despite all this, I have a kid who freaks out when he gets dirt on his hands, is afraid of new places, needs to be held when new people talk to him etc. I can't IMAGINE how much worse it might be if I tried to pack him away in cotton padding. So you either pack your kid away or don't but then constantly WORRY that something will happen... OR you just let go about certain things and worry about the Big stuff. And hopefully teach him to decide for himself what is Safe and what isn't.

Anonymous | 6:43 AM

Eating dirt--OK
Toys from China- OK (within limits for all sorts of reasons)
Playdates without me (or friends with colds)--OK
Walking on the sidewalk of a busy street without holding my hand, not so much (I have a bolter).
Kids at home alone with grammy and papa- A-OK with me.
Crazy people and pedophiles in the neighborhood--I don't think so...

I guess it is everything in moderation. Some places safety and care rules, others do not. I am a situational worrier but admit to being much more of a worrier since having my girls. Sigh...

Andrea

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 7:39 AM

Taking proper safety precautions and being fearful are two very different things. Helmets on bikes and holding hands across streets are necessary. I would never let Archer run around outside in the front of the house without being outside, too.

That's just common sense safety stuff.

I do think that when one pads EVERYTHING in life, the child will find the ONE edge not-childproofed and bang themselves on it. True story.

PA | 9:46 AM

My baby is only 9 months now, but I find myself, as I hoped, on the side of fearless. I feel that my job is to teach, not to guard against. I encourage dirt eating, dog bone chewing, and exploration. My husband and I have said our goodbyes to all breakable possessions.

I think that many parents don't give their kids enough credit. Since a parent cannot defend against all threats, the best thing to do is to provide our kids with the skills and knowledge to handle whatever comes at them.

Some of my happiest childhood memories involve long days spent outside roaming through the ditches and woods of my neighborhood. It really saddens me to think that when my son gets old enough to do that, there won't be anyone else around to do it with him.

vertigobcooks | 10:46 AM

This is a tough one. I am a complete spaz about our daughter (she is 11 months). I have been hypervigilant about her since I was pregnant with her. As a result, I fear I have made her more skittish.

With my son, I know he is going to do stuff that I could never even dream up and I have been more relaxed with him. I can't believe we made it to his 3rd birthday with no stitches or ER visits! He's pretty fearless.

I don't know how to turn off the worry. I wish I did.

Trenches of Mommyhood | 11:26 AM

I have 3 boyz, so I've learned to be more laid-back than probably most.
That being said, I saw a child at the playground yesterday. Whose mother was hovering over him and following behind his every step. And he was bedecked in knee pads and elbow pads. ON THE PLAYGROUND.

Rachael | 11:44 AM

I'd rather err on the side of living, of experiencing. Yes, I know that bad things can happen. They WILL happen, and there's nothing I can do. I keep my child safe by making sure he doesn't play with knives or run out in traffic. But I won't prevent him from living his life, having fun, trying new things because I'm afraid. I believe that people are generally good. I know that I'm more likely to get struck by lightning than to have my child abducted by a stranger. I would rather trust people than be afraid all the time.

Lola | 12:56 PM

Wow-i love this post. I struggle with being overly protective and paranoid but have improved over the years. It's hard sometimes because statistics, however low, are only stats until they happen to you. We all have our stories and that being said, some of my fears stem from my own loss and situations over the time but i am aware of them and try to balance i.e. what? daddy wants to build a zip line on the new property-well, he will have to do it when I am out of town and I will send a safety inspector to check it out upon completion. This is a huge improvement for me as years ago i would just say NO!

phsymom | 1:01 PM

Everything in moderation.

My son will be 18 this year. I've protected him as much as I can with knowledge. Giving him as much knowledge as I can of things in life that can happen. Trying not to make it scary or fearful and doing it at an appropriate age.

Around age 12 when he began to think he was indestructible and was sneaking off into the neighborhood to places that were restricted, I gave him a peep at the pedophiles in our neighborhood. That was enough for him to reconsider his activities.

Mostly I just let him make his own mistakes. My issue is that now that he is old enough to drive and has a car, I'm fearful. I think this fear is mainly because of the things my friends and I got into at his age. Thank goodness for cell phones!

Lola | 1:04 PM

p.s. i just read all the comments here-wow-some great perspectives.
So i add this:
We don't own our children but we are responsible for them:) That and some common sense will prevail right Rebecca? I like when you clarified in the comments that safety and fear are not the same-or something like that:)
BTW I am a child of the 70's-we didn't have seatbelts in cars, we sucked on the lead paint on the 'unsafe spaced' spindles on the crib and i am okay. That being said, safety is paramount but we still need to let our children experience a climb on a rock and sometimes, the band aid that comes with it:)

Anonymous | 1:09 PM

A certain amount of fear is healthy. We have to realize that society isn't completely safe and that the family structure is one of the safest. Why did we feel safe growing up? Usually do to some extent the love and care and protection offered by our parents. Not all fears are caused by the media. There are plenty of facts and statistics to prove that schools aren't safe nor necessarily good for our children and they don't receive the quality education they deserve (I've seen this in the difference between my own younger brother's education and my own).

That said, education is a powerful tool and giving one's children the strength and knowledge to act effectively in society is important and wise. A child should not enter the world willing to complete toss all the values s/he has come to hold over the years just do to a change in peer group. Peers can be a harsh judge and very stifling force on our children's precious personalities. We want them to thrive, but we must also recognize the pressures, which will cause fears of not fitting in, of fitting in.

NoPoGirl | 3:58 PM

I think I am one of the few first-time moms I know who ISN'T afraid all the time. This could be due to my weekend activities of rock climbing and bike racing, but it could also be due to my personality. I just DON'T worry, really. Oh sure, sometimes I have a brief moment when I think "Oh shit! The baby might have a heart attack in her sleep!" But then, I'm like, "really? Get over it."

Our baby (8 months) went camping with us at 4 weeks. She went on her first overnight trip at 8 days and her first rock climbing trip at 6 weeks. She went in the bike trailer at 3 months. She went to her first mountain summit at 3 weeks.

So, yeah, we don't really worry.

That said, I think my baby eats more dog hair than real food and that may not be a good thing? Immune system: 1, Nutrition: 0.

Erin | 4:39 PM

I think we all struggle with putting the fear aside. Right after my son was born, even towards the end of my pregnancy, I would lay in bed at night and feel absolutely overwhelmed thinking over the list of things that might happen to my child, one day. Somewhere. I've really had to force myself to let go of the fear, terror...that something bad will happen to my baby. I've even considered not having another one to save myself from the fear. But here's the thing, bad things MIGHT happen. But joy, that's something you get 100% of the time. Even on the bad days, it's hiding in there.

The only way to fight fear is to do what you are afraid to do.

pamela | 7:11 PM

your blog is like my magic 8 ball! everytime i need an answer to a life problem that has arisen, i say to myself, i'm goint to check GGC... it's like, WWGGCD? i'm flying to steamboat colorado tomorrow and taking my 10month old on the plane. alone. i was going to leave her b/c i was "afraid" to take her and i've decided that i can do it! and if i look back on all the things i was "afraid" to do, one my life will be truly boring and two, i will sadly regret all the good times i missed out on.
i'm with you! gotta save yourself from the fear that could be anything anywhere anytime.

Nicola Proctor | 12:48 AM

I totally agree, Rebecca. I've got a 4 year old son and another on the way and when I was first a Mummy I was a bit wierdo-protective but as the months and years went on I'm now all... meh -- KIDS ARE BENDY, MAN!! Not that I'm going to let him make cocktails with the cleaning products under my sink or anything, but it's really a case of the lesser of two evils, as you say. Do I wrap him in cotton wool every day or do I just relax and watch, marvelling at the shape his little character is taking as he learns the world? Don't get me wrong, I don't just sit by and let him do anything -- like you say, safety and fear are wah-HAY different but there's no better lesson for my little one than those he's worked out for himself. Like if I say, 'Don't walk on that floor, I've just mopped it and it's slippy, so you will wipe out and hurt yourself,' only for the little bugger to walk on the floor and wipe out and hurt himself. I'm not being smug and 'I-told-you-so-ey' but he'll not walk on that floor again. HAPPY THURSDAY!

Hesper | 7:51 AM

I can't say what type of parent I'll be because I know it is different when you have your own (I'm due on the 30th!). However, I have two stepsons and it kills me to see how afraid they are. Actually, truthfully, sometimes it embarrasses me! It mostly boils down to false things they have heard growing up with their mother. They think they can't have any dairy for like an entire week after they have gotten sick. I've had them cover their ears at a plane show because they think that their "kid ears" are so much more sensitive than adults. They are 10 and 11! I sort of have that idea that boys should be rough and tough naturally and while I can appreciate a sensitive child, I don't appreciate the crazy fears that we have to battle every other weekend and on Wednesdays! Grrr. It's a toughie when you have no choice but to be a part-time parent.

Krystal | 9:12 AM

I had this same conversation with my boyfriend the other day. We have been together for years and are soon planning to take the next step in our relationship by getting married and starting a family. Sad thing is...I don't know if I am ready for a child yet b/c of these exact things. I have a dog, whom to me is my child, and I freak out (and I mean freak out) when I think the smallest thing is wrong with him, I mean I give my dog Benadryl when he sneezes to much b/c I think his allergies are bothering him...I proceeded to tell my boyfriend that if I freak out this much over the smallest things with my dog I don't know if I can handle having kids. My mom always tells me that my OCD, and my need for cleanliness will fall to the wayside when I become a mom, but it freaks me out to think about these things. I want to be able to raise my children the way my parents raised me...to take chances, to eat dirt, to not be afraid, basically to be a kid...and do what kids do. I do hope that the elders in my family are correct and that when I do have children things will change... I don't want to be the paranoid parent that her children hate b/c she tried to shelter them.

Leslie | 2:58 PM

Oh man, I am just like you. Granted, I don't have any kids (yet) and I could become freaked-out mom when that day comes, but...I doubt it. My reaction to most things is: shit happens. Diseases happen. Freak accidents happen. Cancer happens. And, for the most part, there is NOTHING that I can do to stop it. Clearly, I will make every effort I can to keep my kids safe - use the proper car seat guidelines, cut their hot dogs into minuscule pieces, teach them how to wash their hands effectively. But other than that, what can you do? The only thing worrying does is take years off your life, years that could be better spent playing with those kids.

Leslie | 2:59 PM

Also, Fable is, quite frankly, THE MOST ADORABLE BABY EVER. I just want to gobble her up. SO CUTE.

Rachel | 5:37 AM

i let both of my boyz skip without armor and eat tons of dirt. other parents are the ones who have problems with letting me do that. they feel the need to alert me of the dangers i subject my boyz to all the time. i am TOTALLY in your camp sister. i let them find out about the world in their own captivated and fascinated ways

Anonymous | 12:30 PM

This is an interesting topic. And I would say that my ex had an unhealthy amount of fear which I think stemmed from parents who viewed the world that way. My ex had a handgun (and got permits to be able to carry the gun with him wherever he could) because he assumed the worst about people. He also insisted on getting an alarm system put in our house to "protect" us. Eventually I realized his paranoia and pessimistic views were infecting my world view. I hope that I never raise children to look at the world this way; it is not a healthy or happy way to live.

Anonymous | 4:09 PM

Dude, the Lizard King said it best: No one here gets out alive.

Amy | 8:44 PM

I firmly believe in letting my child learn things on her own. So, apparently, does she, because if I get in the way too much, she lets me know. I trust her to have good sense, and perhaps surprisingly, she really does about a lot of things. I expect that there will be bumps and scrapes and perhaps even close calls along the way, but when I look back, it seems like that's just part of childhood.

that and perhaps I know that I couldn't survive carrying an umbrella of fear - don't know if that's the other baggage I carry that makes it seem so heavy or not! ;)

Though it doesn't stop me from wanting to protect her from the influence of others, the amazingly strong force of peer pressures - I suppose that's where my fears lie. I'm even considering home schooling! Now, there's definitely some protectionism there, but I'm hoping it's constructive and not constrictive....

Jodi | 1:38 PM

I try not to be afraid. My mantra every day is "My baby will be okay." I'm pretty good in my personal life at embracing adventure and the unknown and it has been difficult at times to embrace that with my new baby. But I will. I really believe part of our role as parents is to nurture our child's independence - that ultimately is the goal.

And then I give him a taste of hummus and my heart stops with the fear that he may have a sesame seed allergy which I read can make him stop breathing...oh shit oh shit. BREATHE Jodi BREATHE.

In order to embrace fearlessness, I found I had to STOP reading. Every book is so focused on what can go wrong it's hard. Every TV show is about something horrible happening. It makes it hard to forget that one of the most magical parts of childhood is the unknown, is exploration and imagination. To be like Max and go where the Wild Things are and "by staring into their yellow eyes without blinking once" we can conquer our fears and have fun adventures. THAT is what we should be encouraging in our kids.

I was able as a kid to run around in the woods which my friends and I claimed as our own special land, play ghosts in the graveyard after dark, and swing so high on the swingset trying to touch the clouds. I can't imagine being so terrified my child will only get to have adventures in structured classes and always under the watchful eye of his parents.

Mallory | 2:31 PM

I feel the same ways about my children. I cannot go out or do anything without them. I especially cannot let anyone drive with them, because I will feel if I am not with them that something bad will happen just because I wasn't there. Anytime I go out to eat or anything, my kids are right beside me, one is 2 and the other is 5 months. I feel horrible sometimes for not having time to myself, but I know I need to have this personal time. I also have to check every bedroom, closet, bathroom, everywhere in my house every night because I think someone will kidnap my children. It is horrible. I am being treated with OCD and reading the book 'Brain Lock' by Jeffrey M. Schwartz. So far, I have became a little less compulsive, but not about my children though, about other little things. Its just crazy. Glad I found some people who can relate. Everyone gets mad at me because I don't want the baby staying overnight or going to the park with them or something. It's horrible.