From the day you give birth, you start undergoing the process of letting your child go. At each stage of their lives, they are moving further and further away from you. And they’re moving into a world full of dangers and uncertainties.
I don’t want to let my kids find themselves in a situation where I am not there to protect them. Whenever they’re away from me, my heart skips a beat when the phone rings. But I fight this feeling every day because I don’t want to parent out of fear.
1. Preparing and packing the toolbox
I accept that I cannot be physically present to protect my children when they encounter challenges or dangerous situations. All I can hope to do is be in their minds when they decide what to do.
That means teaching them the life skills they need to make sensible decisions to protect themselves and others. I call this the toolbox. In it, I have packed the tools they need to handle conflict, danger, and peer pressure.
My only hope in this scary world is that when they need it, they will use their toolboxes to get through difficult situations.
2. Some things are beyond my control
As much as I’d like to be in full control of the world my children live in, I’m not. So, when my children leave me, they are surrounded by ever-present potential dangers.
All I can do is make sure I have competent and reputable accident attorneys on hand to help my child recover. Such unfortunate events happen in the blink of an eye but can have life-altering implications.
I can’t live in fear of what I cannot control. This state of perpetual anxiety is exhausting, and it robs me of my ability to enjoy my children and the many adventures parenting presents.
3. I force myself to let go
I have a fear of large crowds. Part of the problem is that I’m terrified my child will be abducted and disappear. I’ve watched enough TV shows and seen many California lawyers on the news to know how quickly it can happen. I don’t think I could survive such a tragic event.
So, I’ve always insisted my children hold my hands when we go to a busy mall. Unfortunately, they’re getting to the age where holding mom’s hand isn’t cool anymore. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing. Now I practice letting them go.
At first, I wouldn’t let them be more than a foot apart from me. I’ve widened the gap with time. I can’t sacrifice my children’s experience of the world to my fears.
4. I don’t want my children to be fearful adults
A lot of my (sometimes irrational) fears for my children can become suffocating. And I want them to be more confident and assertive than I am. That’s why I try to keep my fears hidden from them.
If I don’t, I’ll be raising them to be frightened adults. It is a cycle that perpetuates itself unless it is broken. I think my upbringing has a lot to do with why I am so fearful for my children. But the buck is going to stop here.
First, I need to distinguish rational from irrational fears. Second, I need to be more positive about what will happen, instead of always assuming the worst. These things are easy to say but hard to do. But, for the sake of my children, I will get them right.