If you’re getting close to child-rearing age, you might be thinking about what it will be like to be a parent. And in truth, the closer we get to parenting, the scarier it gets.
But when things are getting real, all you can think about is what could go wrong.
And here’s the thing: You’re probably not going to find a parent who will tell you your fears are unwarranted. You’re probably worried about real-life scenarios that could actually happen.
Will they happen? Almost definitely not. But it’s natural to think through all the what-ifs — even if they drive you a bit crazy for the moment.
The bottom line is that, for most people, it seems a lot scarier to be a parent than it actually is.
So, it’s time to push past that fear and become the amazing parent you knew you could be when you were playing house as a kid.
Here are 5 ways to overcome a fear of parenting.
1. Check statistics
One of the reasons we fear parenting is because we hear horror stories from friends and on the news. If you think through every possible horrific scenario, of course, you’re going to be terrified of parenting.
And again, it’s not that these are impossible scenarios. But the worst case, that horrific event you heard about, is highly improbable. If you’re worried about something specific happening, check the actual data to see how likely it may be that this thing happens. For example, you hear about children being kidnapped quite often. But the actual data tells a different story. According to data from the FBI, fewer than 350 people (on average) under the age of 21 get abducted annually in the United States. Is that really enough to have you living in fear?
2. Talk to other parents
If you’re really worried, talk to your friends and family members who have recently had children. They well know parenting can be overwhelming, but there’s a good chance many of their fears have subsided. They can tell you more about the experience of having a child and how those fears go away.
Most people who struggle with a fear of parenting are most afraid of the infant stage. This is when the child is most vulnerable and has many needs to be met. So if you’re worried, ask a close friend or relative if you can spend some time with their infant. You shouldn’t babysit alone if you’re feeling paralyzed with fear, but you can ask to take over while the parent is still there. You might see it’s not so bad after all (and the parent will love you for the break).
4. Get a dog
If you’ve never cared for another living being, getting a pet is a good place to start. Puppies aren’t the same as human babies, but caring for one will require you to work hard and become selfless. If you’re struggling to do this, you may have some work to do before you become a parent.
5. Become a parent
Literally, everyone is afraid of becoming a parent because it feels like the great unknown until you’ve had your own kids. Understand that you’re never going to feel 100 percent ready, and that’s okay. No one ever does. Once you feel reasonably ready, it may be time to take the plunge. You’ll find that many fears quickly work themselves out.
Here’s the bottom line: Parenting IS scary because of how much you will love this child — and that makes it all worthwhile.