Do parental fears take up way too much space in your head?
Before I had my first child over 33 years ago, I had no idea there were so many things to be afraid of in life. Parenting opened up a whole new world of things that could go wrong, things that gave me a lot to worry about, and things that caused me to toss and turn at night. And then when all three kids played sports through college, I found a whole new list of things to fear.
Looking back over the years of parenting, I can identify some basic parental fears that most parents can relate to. Here’s how I handled them then, and how I’m still handling some of them now.
Fears about Safety and Health
When your kids play sports and start to drive, there are always fears of injury and accidents. I can’t tell you how many late and/or sleepless nights I had to worry about my kids’ safety, whether it was simply waiting for them to make curfew, or worrying about them aggravating an already tender ankle in sports.
As parents, there is really only so much we can do and we need to take control over those things that we CAN control–feeding our kids healthy foods, seeing they get exercise, taking them for regular checkups, and keeping them away from unhealthy situations with strangers or even family members.
But we cannot put our kids in a bubble and there is no way to control every single scenario that they enter. There comes a point when we either learn to let go or we try to hang on too tightly, end up stressing ourselves out, and damaging our relationship with our kids in the process.
Fears about Finances
Kids are expensive. And the older they get, the more expensive they become—especially in sports. There are travel teams, equipment, lessons, camps—the expenses add up until it culminates in the biggest expenses of all, college and/or a wedding.
Finances have always been my worry of choice. Still is, if I let it. But learning to set a budget, and stick to that budget, has helped me lessen those fears.
Be wise with your money. Teach your kids the value of work and setting a budget. Let go of things that are stressing your budget that you really don’t have to keep. Sometimes this means making tough choices when it comes to your kids and sports Get financial counseling if you need it.
Fears that Our Kids Will Not be Emotionally Strong or Happy
These types of parental fears often drove me to tears as I watched my kids go through emotional struggles. Every parent wants their kids to be happy and when we see them go through depression, friend problems, or struggles at school and in sports, it is heart-wrenching.
That’s usually when the urge to fix it takes over, but that is not the best answer for your child. Your job and mine is to walk through the hard times with our kids, love them through it, and provide guidance when appropriate, NOT to eliminate the problem from their lives.
If that’s you right now, remember that your child needs your love and support more than they need immediate answers or parental manipulation.
Fears That Our Kids Won’t Be Able to Launch
With today’s uncertain economy, this is a very real fear, and I’ve experienced having kids come back home to live after college. I watched them struggle to find jobs that would support them. One by one, they cut the apron strings until finally, they were all financially independent. It didn’t happen immediately right out of college, but it did happen.
The best way to avoid this fear is to plan early by instilling in your kids a good work ethic and not raising them with an entitled attitude. Don’t give them everything they want, make them earn money, and show them the value of being good stewards of that money. Many of these lessons are learned as they play sports if you make room for them to happen.
I’m sure you have other parental fears that I’ve not mentioned. But in order to keep sane, it might be good to remember this well-known serenity prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.