3 Biggest Parental Fears

4:41 PM

I hate to admit it. I am constantly in fear that something bad can happen to my children when I'm not looking. It is not because I do not trust them but the fear of what the bad elements of society can do to them can be so real at times especially when I hear the stories of grieving parents who had to face the ordeal of losing a child. Today, I had to endure three long hours of such fear and it literally felt like dying. It was a parent's worst nightmare. The remotest possibility that I could lose my child gripped my heart with stone cold intensity.

Image Source: Prawny

This very recent experience brought me to a realization about parental fear. In my book, these are the 3 biggest parental fears that lurk in every parent's heart:

Fear for Our Children's Future

Most parents have a tendency to be afraid of not being able to provide for their children's future. The future is something so uncontrollable that it is impossible to fully ensure its outcome. The important thing here is to work on minimizing negative probabilities by investing in their education, both for academic and practical learning. While not all of us parents will be able to leave behind substantial material inheritance, making sure that our children are equipped to handle adult life and responsibilities well is the priority.

Fear of Failing Our Children

Children tend to put parents in a pedestal. Parents of course would not like to disappoint their children thus the great effort to hide character flaws, vices, and failure. We would not like to be the cause of our children's lowering of standards. Reality tells us though that hidden things come out one way or the other. This fear can serve as a motivation for us parents to do better as we guide our children in dealing with their own challenges and failures as well.

Fear for Our Children's Safety and Well-Being

Are parents of today becoming too paranoid when it come to children's safety and well-being? Can they be blamed for having such intense feelings of fear for their children's sake? Probably not, but this paranoia should not be the cause of unreasonably limiting our children's potentials. We can only do so much in protecting our own children and it will be impossible to be with them at all times. The best bet therefore is to train them in taking care of themselves.

My Story

Earlier today, we were unable to find our teenage son in the place where we agreed to meet after he went out with his friends. The agreement was my husband would fetch him once he's ready. We were surprised however to receive a text message from him to that effect, apparently more than one hour delayed. That started one of the most dreadful 3 hours of my life.

My husband quickly went to the appointed place after receiving the text and went back home after 2 hours without my son. It should be noted that the place is merely 5 minutes away from our home by car. My husband was already calling out my son's name even before he stopped the car in front of our house. He was hoping that our son  just came home by himself as he was nowhere to be seen in the agreed place. Upon confirming that he wasn't, I saw my own fear reflected on my husband's face.

Even before my husband came back, I had already called up one of my son's friend and confirmed that their group went their separate ways more than 2 hours earlier. All my son had to do was cross the street from their point of separation and he will reach our supposed meeting place. Clearly, the possibility of him just being late is definitely out of the question.

So what's the problem here?

This is our 14 year-old son who rarely go out without us. This is a boy who has not been exposed much to the reality that there are indeed bad people existing as we would proactively shelter him from the risk of encountering them. We were just starting to loosen our hold as we knew it's about time. It's about time to let him go step by step so he can discover the world, hopefully without getting hurt. And now this?

I was dressed up with the first clothes I can get my hands on even before my husband finished voicing his plea to me for help to find our son. The situation has become triple stressful since my husband has a heart condition and my youngest child has been reduced to tears already by then. I had to request our neighbor to just look out for my son in case he comes home and tell him not to go anywhere else before we all left to find him.

All sorts of dreadful scenarios were playing out in my mind. I was interchangeably praying silently and saying loudly for my son just to come home. I just wanted the feeling of dread to go away very quickly. I felt suffocated.

I knew that my husband already asked the guards in the establishment if they noticed our son but I simply had to ask again and both answered in the negative again. I was just about to request for CCTV access from the management when I saw the most welcome sight. It was my son entering the front door.

He was asking me what took us so long. He explained he just ate in a nearby store after waiting for almost 2 hours. That took some time as well because there were many customers in the food store as it was a weekend. All I managed was a hug and a few words of "Let's go home" while one of the guards confirmed that he actually saw my son earlier. I dare not say anything else as I was sure I was about to burst into tears, both from the stress and the feeling of relief.

My Say

Looking back, we could have easily prevented this stressful experience if my son had a mobile phone with him. My son is actually not fond of bringing one with him and will only do so when necessary. We all did not think much about the need since it was supposed to be the usual bring-and-fetch chore of parents. My son assured us that he can easily send us a message for any change of plans through any of his friends' phone. Besides, they were just in a mall 5 minutes away from our place so what can possibly go wrong? Apparently many.

We failed to consider other variables like the possibility of having delayed text messages. When my son's message from his friend's phone reached us more than an hour after, we were effectively very late then in fetching him. By the time my husband arrived at the meeting place, my son was probably in line buying his food nearby and everything else followed the domino effect.

It would have been very easy to contact him if he had a phone with him and we will not be forced to rely on asking his friends who last saw him more than 2 hours earlier.  

That said, now I know that we should not take anything for granted. Things happen so we should always prepare sensibly just like making sure that my children bring a phone with them especially when they're not with us. It also  makes sense to have a definite agreement about waiting to be fetched, which our family has.

This more or less covers matters like not going with strangers even when they say the instructions to fetch them came from us as well as informing us of any change of plans by whatever means possible. We try to make this kind of agreement for every possible situation like natural calamities and some other unexpected events. The main idea of these agreements is to find each other whatever happens.

For most parents, that 3-hour confusion and feeling of great dread is easy to identify with. For those who are unable to fully understand, try having your own child disappear from your sight without any explanation for mere seconds, then get back to me. 

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