Safety is a hot button issue in my family. My wife has a lower threshold of risk than me (to put it mildly), and with our four children constantly testing the limits, we are often at odds. The daily news make us shudder, and impacts our parenting philosophies in different ways. Courtney seems to cling tighter to our kids while I refuse to believe any of that could happen to my family. I want my children to explore and live life to its fullest-which requires risk-taking. However, as a father, I try to convince myself that my super-human-daddy-bubble-of-safety surrounds them at all times.
As each of my children moves into their future, I take a deep breath, encourage them and then let them go. This is not always easy. As the kids grow older, the stakes get higher, and I lose confidence that everything will be ok. I try to believe the words I tell my wife – to have faith that we’ve taught our kids well and that, as they each encounter dangers, challenges and opportunities, they’ll manage them safely. Sometimes I look at my children, and wish they I could still hold them tightly in my arms like I did the day they were born, into the daddy-bubble.
I am a “catastrophic thinker”. Or, as my family refers to me, a “big ninny-worry-wart”. I am capable of imagining all sorts of horrible things that could happen to my children, both truly possible and nearly impossible. My head swims with “what if’s”. This has cost me many nights of sleep and has given me many grey hairs long before I should have them. When my children tell me I’m being over-protective, I toss back “but you’re still okay, aren’t you!” To me, I’m just doing what I can to keep my family safe. What could be wrong with that?
Instead of driving myself, my husband and my children crazy, I’ve had to conclude that all any of us can do is take every precaution, teach our children well, remind them often and then let go – a bit at a time. I don’t want to stifle my children and prevent them from having great experiences because of my “what if’s”. After all, they could slip in the tub and hit their head and die RIGHT HERE AT HOME! I just have to find solace that they will handle what comes their way and that life will be what life will be. Oh, who am I kidding? Is that another grey hair?