Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Fear of Fear

Posted on Jan 14, 2010 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Featured |

Fear of Fear

As a child I slept under my trundle bed — that’s right, I said, *under* the trundle bed. I would spend my nights dreaming of how to close up the windows in my house and that if for some reason I was not found by the boogey man, how I’d escape and save my family from being killed. And that was just one fear. I had the fear of my life, the life of my family and of the world. I lived a life afraid just as afraid of strangers as of lighting and thunder. I’ve always had a fear of tall men and an equal fear of being fat. I’m afraid of dogs and terrorism. To this day, I am afraid of the dark. Above all, I’m afraid of Fear itself.

Fear turns to paranoia when you have children. Stranger Danger! Choking Hazards! Swimming Pools!

How do I teach my children about being cautious but not paralyzingly afraid? I tell them the danger of strangers when staying at Aunty and Uncle’s Bed & Breakfast. Appropriate, right? My children respond by not speaking to a soul, hanging to the apron of their aunty, cautiously tip-toe around. We discuss earthquake safety (go to the door-jam, don’t run upstairs, don’t hide under anything) in our best, most calming voices. They were so afraid that they slept in the same bed and jumped up several times when a truck went by or a door shut in fear that the earth was crumbling. I tell them to wash their hands at school and they respond by carrying anti-bac wipes and not touching anything in their classrooms without washing their hands. Clearly the balance is off.

Children, I believe, will respond to what their parents do not tell them, but show them. I work so hard to not share my fear of fears with my kids. Maybe I’m not doing anything wrong. Maybe they’re just wired this way. What if I didn’t educate them about speaking to strangers, of swimming without a grown-up nearby, of earthquake safety? Then I’d be a shitty mom. So where’s the line?