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May 19, 2005


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De-lurking here to say great post! Hysterical. You're right about one thing. The fears of being a prent never end. What's mine? My teenage daughter getting her driver's license this year. It literally keeps me up at night.


It's funny - my son's 14 months old, and those fears have yet to rear their ugly heads. Perhaps it's because he's such a happy kid, always laughing and full of boundless energy - then again, he did emerge unscathed from a bout with a rare, life-threatening illness before he reached his first birthday (Kawasaki Disease - sounds like a bad joke, but is quite the opposite). That tends to put a lot of things in perspective.


As always, you are touching the most sensible issues of a recent father! Good for you!
Where should I start? My little girl is 14 months old and at this point I've feared that she'd choke to death, drown, get asphyxiated by her Teddy bear, fell down and brake her neck, kidnapped by an alien, killed by a lunatic, injured in an accident, developed a life-threatening illness, and, Oh Lord!, died in an earthquake. Yeah, I know, I'm a freak, but I'm a freak who's talking very honestly. If this is common to all parents and just gets better as the kids grow up, I don't know how people can be parents; nobody told me the fear part of being a parent. Good grief!

JJ Daddy in Savannah

Yes, another thing that goes into the "how the hell did our parents stand it" file. Also the realization of what they meant when they said "you'll know what I'm talking about when YOU have kids".

I was roaming the streets of Manhattan until dawn, literally, when I was about 15 or so, and those were the days when the drinking age was 18, and mostly considered a joke. So I am having retroactive guilt over all the gray hair I undoubtedly caused my parents.

So that's why I make a big deal over Mother's day and Father's Day, and you should too.

As far as MY parental fears, suffice to say that I have THREE daughters, so I get to worry about all the penises in the world, times three.

Which is why I have practice my pistol shooting regularly.

Michael Lewis had an good article in Slate a few years ago on the new world of fears that opens up for you when you have kids:

And in closing I leave you with the words of Francis Bacon that I think of almost daily:
"He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief."


Gosh... Rational? Fear of some terrible boy breaking her heart, fear that I won't prepare her for life, fear that she will get sick, or hurt, or that I will outlive her. Irrational? Aliens, dingoes, dinosaurs, giant killer spiders, poisonous bees, spontaneous combustion, flesh-eating bacteria... to name a few.

Tom N.

"or my fear that she'll grow up to be a stripper"

When my wife was ~8 months pregnant with our baby, she asked me how I'd react if our daughter (now 14 months old) decided to become a stripper in order to pay her way through college (she'd just read a story about this trend becoming more common). I paused for a minute, then replied "She's not supposed to be giving my gray hairs until after she's born!"

And yeah, I need to go buy a shotgun before she's a teenager...

B Watson

Dude, here's one for you. I am afraid that I will get tattled on for being too affectionate with my daughter. How's that for irrational?? With all of these stories about child molesters and other assorted bad guys I get worried that if I hold her too tight, someone might think it's "not natural" or "inappropriate." That's my fear. Rasonable? No. Rational? Not a chance. But with all the whack jobs out there who have too much time on their hands and poke their noses into other peoples' business, well, I just worry about how much that is going to impact my father daughter relationship. Frankly, it just sucks that I even have to think about it.


While I was home on my 6 weeks maternity leave, there was a huge rash of kidnappings here in Texas. Remember that mom that went to push the shopping cart back and that couple stole her two children with the mom still hanging to the door? There were about 5 really bad cases one after another, so I have this unrational fear that someone is going to steal my daughter. Plus she is a pretty cute kid, so it has effectually doubled my fear that a pervert is going to steal my child. I wish I could shake it, because it is really ridiculous to be this scared of someone taking your child. At the playground, at the zoo, in the children's museum, I am always scoping out potential perverts and letting them know that I have my eyes on my kid and they can't have her.


The fears are endless. ENDLESS. However, as a woman, I have some fears particular to raising a son. I'd like to raise him to be a different kind of penis. I fear that it's not possible and that in due time the penis will reign a fool head. I worry that pornography will be as commonplace as Kleenex and that my voice will get lost in the provocative media that surrounds him as he grows. Yes, it is but one penis to mind but how the hell do I help him develop a healthy, respectful penis. Sigh.


I think my parents stopped worrying about me awhile ago. Now, they worry about when I'll move out.


Endless fears too: all the usual ones, all the horrible ones. But an extra fear is what the effect of some awful event or tragedy concerning our children would do to the rest of the family. Would it break us up? Would it scar us for the rest of our lives?


My 1st child is due in 10 days, and my biggest fear right now is that something will go wrong before / durring the birth and it will be stillborn. My second biggest fear, SIDS... I'll worry about drugs, alcohol, perverts, and teenage sex once I get past the first few months :-)


AMEN, JEN!!! You took the words out of my mouth. I too sat there on maternity leave with Elizabeth Smart and Chandra Levy in the news thinking, there are monsters out there who think a girl is just something they can do whatever they want with. Very hard to consider when you are holding a pink bundle in your arms.

When my DD was a few months old I awoke from the worst nightmare--that she was underwater and I could not grab onto her. When I woke up I was not only gasping to breathe, my heart was beating so hard my chest wall was moving outward like I had never seen in my life. My chest hurt all the next day. I described it to a woman at work and she said the same thing happened to her, only she was awake; she had just been thinking about how many awful things could happen and how could she be everywhere every minute....she ended up asking her DH to take her to the emergency room!

I suppose Parental Fear Factor is just part of the way the game is played. ;o)


Oh man. The list of fears that I have about my daughter are practically endless. And just because some of them may br irrational doesn't seem to make the fear go away. My deepest fear is that she'll be kidnapped or abducted. My most irrational is that I'll lose her at the mall (even though she can't even walk yet). Sigh...I guess the fear's here for good, isn't it?

Oh yeah, I also have a crazy fear of snakes. But I've had that one all my life.


I've had many irrational fears, and some rational ones, during the past six-plus years. I have to say that at this point, I'm more worried about the big picture things than a personal attack by a stranger or elephant (although I can still wake up sweating with those nightmares).

But really, the things I worry about are: will the kids have social security? Will the wretched anti-tax wing of the Republican party succeed in destroying every New Deal and Great Society program? Will there be any labor movement left at all by the time my kids are old enough to have jobs? Will Americans simply retreat into their own homes, engaged in The Amazing Race, to never fight for social justice again?

After September 11, when the PATRIOT Act was being voted on, I was seriously worried that my daughter would grow up in a sort of Red Diaper baby environment, always worried that someone was coming to take her parents away. There was a (brief) moment where I was utterly convinced that one of us would have to change jobs, just to make sure we both didn't end up in jail during her childhood.


I am not a worrying kind of person but my biggest fear is that my child will have a drunken fall from a balcony and be killed on the night of their college graduation. Weird, huh? I live in a university town and this actually happens occasionally. No apartments with balconies for my boys, ever. All that tuition gone to waste...



I have a crazed fear of having any sharp objects anywhere near my kids. If I see a pair of scissors within 100 feet of them, I practically freak out. Of course I worry about a million other things too. But the scissors? Whoo...that one kills me!


I think fear is something that can be overcome. sure it will keep trying to rear its head, but it doesnt have to win. here's a bit of wisdom to that end: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."

but when fears try to return, I get afraid that my kids wont share my faith, that they wont love others, that they will do harm to others, that they'll die in their sleep, etc.

but my faith tells me that God is in control, and He'll work things out as He sees fit.

Not-For-Profit Dad

On-top of all the usual fears having to do with becoming parents, I also have the lingering fears of having had twins who were delivered six-weeks premature, one of whom had Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction and was born weighing less than three pounds. So far, so good, but of course I read articles that IUGR kids are more likely to have ADHD. My girl twin still doesn't roll over regularly at nine and a half months -- and even though we got a referral to take her to a pediatric neurologist, (just to be safe) we still haven't made the appointment. In some ways having all these real things to worry about has kept me from inventing any more remote worries.

Still, it is a dangerous world. I work six blocks from the White House. I take public transport all the time. I eat sushi of questionable origins. For some reason, getting life insurance recently made me breathe easier about my own mortality.


My biggest fear? That I'm going to be a bad mother and my little 4 month old daughter is going to suffer because of it. I see all the other mothers in the park and they mmake it seem so much easier. If I'm a bad mother, I'm afraid that I'll do irreparable damage to my child.



sorry, I can't make the track back work--here's a post I wrote referencing yours.


I have twin girls who are 16 years old. They're great girls and have never given me or my wife a lick of trouble. But my greatest fear right now is being able to pay for their college. It keeps me awake at nights and sometimes it's all that I can think about. But what you say is so true. I don't think the worrying or the fears ever ends.


Wasn't it Chris Rock that said "A Dad's only job is to keep his daughter off the pole..." :-)


Man, you are incredible. When I saw the title, I was thinking what the hell is this post about. Then, you start talking about linguistics and etymology, people's fears, polling data and your own feelings about parenthood. You crack me up.

Oh yeah...I'm afraid of my daugher becoming a stripper too.


As a first time mom to an 8 month old baby girl, my husband and I are afraid of all of the above, plus some...


The tiny tip on top of the tip of the iceberg's tip? I love that line. Mind if I use it?

Queen of Ass

I wonder what all I'm going to regret once he's older. I think that, as a single parent, some of my fears are a little different from what a couple would have. Example: At 6 years old, Munchkin already grabs his penis first thing every morning. I've asked him why, and his response is "I dunno. I just like to play with it." How in hell am I going to explain masturbation to him? How will I explain sex? The girls in his kindergarten class ALREADY send him home every day with little loves notes. Is this the beginning of a lifetime of boy-chasing sluts in his life? UGH!

And most importantly, what's the best bat to buy with which I may beat them off him with?


My biggest fear is that I'm messing this up. I mean, we have a plan...but who really knows what the long term impacts of our plan are? For example, we believe that strollers are, for the most part, a convenience to the parent as opposed to a benefit to the child. However, the result of not using a stroller is a child that loves to explore her surroundings and to do this she runs around exploring. My fear is that we are not controlling her enough; that we are those parents that other parents look at and think "can't they control that little girl? Look at her running in the mall!!" Yes, she runs in the mall BUT THAT'S THE PLAN!! Are we setting her up for long term problems because she runs in the mall? You get the picture.

Oh yeah, I'm afraid of sharp corners. Before you were a parent, did you have any idea of the number of sharp-corners-of-death we are surrounded with on a daily basis?


I'm with Jim! I have this fear that now that my daughter can walk, she's going to run into traffic. I'm also terrified she's going to run into our coffee table that is ALL sharp corners. Sigh...seems like just yesterday that I was worried about whether she would eat solid food. I guess every chapter brings a new set of worries.

p.s. I'm terrified of heights. Always have been. Always will.

ozone ferd

I love that penis quote, have to share that with Mrs Ferd. After two kids your fear level is drastically reduced with number 3 and beyond. With Number 1, and somewhat Number 2, we were the doting parents who were at beck and call when they so much as whimpered. Number 3 is tough as nails. When #3 fell, we left him to figure out it didn't really hurt and to get up and move on. He is now a healthy tough little 7 year old. But I am afraid of my kids getting hit by a car or picked up by strangers. Those two things stand out. When I was a 4th grader my best friend got hit by a car going 30 mph. He was in a body cast for a year. Perhaps that is where that fear comes from. And you hear too much about kids disappearing, that is always in the back of my mind.

Chloe's mom

When it comes to my 22 month old daughter my biggest fear is of a dirty bomb going off -- I worry about how I'm going to protect her from another attack--I'm not sure if that is a rational or irrational fear - I dread the first time a boy breaks her heart along with all the others...getting hit by a car - drinking and driving and the list goes on. I think a parent never stops worrying the fears are just different as they grow

Chloe's Mom

Oh yeah - ever since I had my daughter I have a fear of roller coasters - go figure


Fears: every irrational thought that one can have, from running with a sucker in their mouths to having your best most dearest friend betray you and hurt them in some way...and everything in between.

The need to "protect against all the other penises in the world" and the fear I am not raising my son to be one of the exceptions to that rule. The fear that they will reject the way of life that I taught them. The fear of being too conservative. The fear of being too liberal. The fear I will be the "running theme" in their memoir.

And my coping mechanisms are not too hot either. I've tried totalitarianism and extreme child spoiling and practically everything in between. I would like to imagine that some or all of that effort will produce predictable results...

But in the end, they get to choose whether to dance at the poll. And *THAT*, my friend, is the killer fear of every parent. That no matter WHAT you do, your kid gets control of their own life.

BAH! I'm not sure this is as eloquent as it needs to be to convey what I am saying. Does anyone else feel this way?


My husband is the same way about our 3 year old daughter (especially because we know she is going to be a heartbreaker). He always says that when its time for her to start dating, he will ask her date to see his wallet and upon taking it will say:

If there is a condom in here - I am going to kill you...
If there is not a condom in here - I am going to kill you!

Them he will proceed to tell the guy that he has a better chance of seeing Jesus, than dating his daughter - as he shuts the door.

...feel free to use the above with your daughter!!!


Yeah Jenl, I feel ya. I love my little BB to death. Sometimes I feel like a Secret Service Agent always looking for the next threat: shopping carts, sharp corners, Goose attack (I live by a lake ). But, no matter what I do I can't make her eat. She's as healthy as you could ask...but she won't eat and won't put on weight. 2 years and 20 lbs. I waffle back and forth between exasperation and terror, and yet when it comes right down to it, unless I put her on a feeding tube...I'm utterly helpless. She has all the power...


My wife and I don't have any kids but we do have dogs. They are our family. I worry about things happening to them - running away, being stolen for dog fighting, getting hit by a car, dying.

Ever since 9/11, I have not been in an airplane. I never really liked flying but, now, I think that I have a fear of dying suddenly in a plane that explodes in mid-air. I don't know the word for that one.

By the way, check out The Phobia List for more fears.


Oi! Don't claim English as an American triumph. That's so rude.

Geggy Poo


Geggy Poo


Geggy Poo


Winston Churchill

excuse me, I dont know if you're being ironic or not, but i dont really see how the plenitude of the english language has anything to do with the U.S.A.


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He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief.


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