Wednesday 15 August 2018

Parenthood: the unending fear

 

'Every generation of parents has had their fears, and sometimes we look back now and laugh. And sometimes that makes us discount the fears we have now' Stock image: Depositphotos
'Every generation of parents has had their fears, and sometimes we look back now and laugh. And sometimes that makes us discount the fears we have now' Stock image: Depositphotos
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

'Once she was born I was never not afraid. I was afraid of swimming pools, high-tension wires, lye under the sink, aspirin in the medicine cabinet... I was afraid of rattlesnakes, riptides, landslides, strangers who appeared at the door, unexplained fevers, elevators without operators and empty hotel corridors. The source of the fear was obvious: It was the harm that could come to her."

Joan Didion wrote that in Blue Nights, her memoir about the life and death of her daughter Quintana.

Rearing children can be the greatest source of joy in life, but it can also be the most fearful, the most uneasy, experience we will have. Parents have always been afraid. They've been afraid of the Charleston, of jazz, of reefer madness, of mini skirts, of sex, of the sexual revolution, of bicycles home from the dance, of drive-in movies, of discos, of sleepovers, of teenage boys and their hormones, of teenage girls and their hormones. Every generation of parents has had their fears, and sometimes we look back now and laugh. And sometimes that makes us discount the fears we have now. We worry we are just being old-fashioned or fuddy-duddy. But the truth is we all know there is something wrong. There's something different now. We know there were always anxious children, and we know we are quicker to label things now, but still we know that there is something wrong in this modern world that is making so many of our young people so anxious.

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