I Don't Want My Kids to Be Afraid of the World, but It's Getting Harder

mom scared for child

Each day when my 10-year-old wakes up, the first thing he does is turn on the television to catch all the sport highlights his 9 p.m. bedtime forces him to miss. For years, this has been his routine. But lately, instead of calling me in to catch one of Steph Curry's 3-pointers or see Giancarlo Stanton win the Home Run Derby, he's been asking wearily, "Mom, what happened in Orlando?"; "Mom, who is Philando Castile?"; "Mom, what happened in Dallas?"; "Mom, what happened in France?" 

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As a mother, how can you say, "I'm sorry, son, while you were sleeping the world once again got a little more terrifying."

How can you explain the unspeakable violence we are living with? You can't, because to be able to explain it would mean you understood it, and I just can't. 

Stranger danger, ferocious dogs, and hot stoves aside, I have tried my best to not raise fearful children. I want them to embrace all that is good and beautiful in this world. I want them to travel; to be curious explorers who thrill at the mention of visiting a foreign land, or even a local landmark, not cower at the thought of it. I want us to be able stroll through Central Park this summer or walk across the Brooklyn Bridge without the anxiety of thinking that at any moment we might be attacked. 

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For moms, it seems almost in our DNA to problem-solve, to troubleshoot, especially when it is in the interest of protecting our kids, but there are no ready solutions for the horrific events that are increasing with alarming frequency.

For many, it is tempting to blame guns, and don't get me wrong, deadly weapons in the hands of someone who is mentally ill and hasn't been background checked is obviously a recipe for tragedy. We want to believe that if we change laws, we, and our families, will be safer. And to some degree, I'm sure we would be. But it goes so far beyond that.

In the case of this most recent attack in Nice, in which more than 80 are confirmed dead, a gun wasn't used. The killer only needed access to a truck. On 9/11, boxcutters and airplanes crippled the financial capital of the world. In Boston, a pressure cooker and standard hardware were enough to devastate a city. 

When growing numbers of people are hellbent on killing and destroying the freedom to celebrate a holiday, do our jobs, or run a marathon, and will use any means available, where do we even begin?  

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If we stay in our homes and wring our hands, then these terrorists, these anarchists, have truly won. And yet, when we are out in a crowd, at a ballgame or a theme park, I find myself staring at strangers, wondering what's in their backpacks. I glare intently at the security guard who rifles quickly through my purse with a stick. Take longer, I'm willing to wait, I think, because how do I know everyone in this place has been thoroughly inspected?

I don't want to think this way. I don't want to sacrifice the enjoyment of living without fear, but in these moments -- and there have been far too many lately -- it seems nearly impossible. 

But what kind of message would I be sending to my children if I allowed those feelings to prevent us from living each day to the fullest? No, I refuse to miss showing them all good in this world because of all the bad.

I will continue to make plans and treasure each moment, each outing, that I can share with my kids. I will keep them a little bit closer, hold their hands a little tighter, and have my eyes wide open. But I will not live in fear. 

 

 

Image via Tomsickova Tatyana/Shutterstock

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