Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don’t remember growing older,
When did they?
Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof?
It’s the tale of a Jewish milkman named Tevye who has five daughters. Those lyrics are from the lullaby he and his wife sing just before their eldest daughter gets married.
When did she grow to be a beauty?
When did he grow to be so tall?
Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?
When you think about your children growing up, what emotions do you experience?
Do you feel hope and elation—or fear and anxiety?
Are You Scared to Let Your Kids Grow Up?
Research from the American Family Survey reveals that modern parents set arbitrary milestones to cope with discomfort about their adolescents growing up, which ultimately results in postponing their independence.
When asked what age kids should be “allowed to play at a park or walk home without adult supervision,” the answer was 13. But those same parents said they would let their kid get a job or go on a date less than two years later.
What these numbers really show is that behind the confusion is an underlying fear. But what are parents and caregivers so afraid of?
- Fear of danger. The most prevalent of all parental anxieties is the worry that our children will be harmed. This fear is perfectly normal and understandable, but the answer can’t be keeping our kids locked up like modern-day Rapunzels!
- Fear of the future or the unknown. If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the world as we know it can change in the blink of an eye. Although we want to keep our children safe and happy 100% of the time, the reality is that so much is beyond our control. The unknown can be a scary thing—but only if you let it be.
- Fear of separation or letting go. Next time you go to a wedding, look around to see who’s bawling their eyes out. (Hint: it’s probably the parents!) Watching our kids transition to adulthood can make us feel lonely and insignificant, but part of our duty as caregivers is to set them up for independence.
5 Ways to Overcome the Fear of Your Kids Growing Up
Although it’s normal to have parental anxiety, being able to address and ultimately overcome your fears is important—for you and your kids. It’s not easy, but the results are so rewarding.
Here are five strategies that may work for you:
- Be a positive mirror. Keep in mind that if you’re acting afraid, your child may pick up on your emotions and start feeling the same way. As caregivers, it’s our duty to make our kids feel secure, and in many ways that begins with our own behavior. Show them how to navigate the world and its uncertainties smartly, safely, and confidently.
- Be encouraging. If you can’t handle the thought of your teen going on a date, imagine how they’re feeling right now! Remember how painfully insecure you felt when you were their age? Your teen needs encouragement more than anything. Reassure them that, as Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote, “no feeling is final.” Whatever they’re feeling and experiencing will eventually sort itself out.
- Be honest. Encouragement is only valuable when it’s genuine and grounded in reality. If you sugarcoat life, you’re not doing your kid any favors. Take the pandemic, for example: telling your child COVID-19 will magically go away is dishonest and insincere. You may feel like you’re protecting them, but at what cost? A better approach is to explain the effects of the virus and educate them on how to stay safe.
- Be communicative. When my daughter Pia was a teenager, we would have disagreements about her going out with her friends and me not knowing where she was. Finally, she came to me one day and asked, “Mom, what can I do to reassure you that I’m safe?” We agreed that a simple text message informing me where she was and who she was with would ease my worry. Problem solved!
- Be there. I cannot stress the importance of this last tip: let your child know that they can come to you anytime, anywhere, whatever they need. Listen to them. Empathize with how they feel. Just be there.
Don’t let fear cripple you from being the best parent you can be. Face your anxieties head-on and take concrete steps to overcome them so that you can be at peace with your child getting older.
And if you feel like you can’t cope on your own, by all means ask for help! It takes a village to raise a child and the Conscious Parenting Revolution is happy to be your support network.
Join our Facebook group to catch our coaches live streaming Tuesday Tips for Parents, every Tuesday at 6:10 pm PST. We’d love to see you there.
Love and Blessings,