I don’t want to be scared of my kids.

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I listened to this Art of Simple podcast last week while cleaning the kitchen. Tsh interviewed Stephanie Langford, who traveled around the world with her husband and four children the past year. Tsh is going to do the same with her family soon. It really got me thinking about the resilience of children and how I am parenting.

The idea of taking my three children on a plane is simply horrific to me. I have fierce memories of flying by myself with Libbie when she was a toddler and crying because the last straw was her spilling water all over my iPod. Despite my declarations that I WOULD NEVER DO IT AGAIN, at one point I flew with Libbie AND David to Pennsylvania so we could visit my parents. Someone in the airport took pity on me and carried one of their carseats for me.

And frankly, the idea of taking kids overseas seems frightening and exhausting. Won’t they whine the whole time? Won’t they miss routine? Won’t you want to kill them as they ask for a PBJ when you’re in a French cafe?

What Tsh and Stephanie pointed out is that we forget how resilient children are. I find that most of the time I worry over making changes in my head until it nearly drives me insane. I even fretted this week over my decision to have dinner at home one night instead of at the dining hall. Would Libbie refuse to eat? Would she throw a hissy fit? Of course not. She was fine. She asked the next night if we could eat at home again.

I think if I cut back my children’s TV time or turn it off completely, they will be laying on the floor throwing all-out tantrums. Are they? They might protest for a minute, but soon thereafter they are back in their bedrooms playing “Lamby and Bunny” with stuffed animals.

And what it seems to boil down to for me is that I am afraid of my own children. I let my assumptions about their feelings control my actions – to the point of inhibiting the way I feel I should parent at times. When really it’s more about me. Am I scared of their reactions … or too lazy to make a difference in how I am planning our days?

I desperately don’t want to be scared of my kids. I absolutely want to take fun trips with them and introduce them to new places without going through the mental “is it worth it?” checklist. Sure, traveling with children isn’t the easiest thing in the world. But seeing the world is priceless. Exploring it with open arms, as only kids can do, is amazing. I can’t image the stories Tsh and Stephanie’s kids will have to tell and the memories they will embrace.

So whether it’s deciding to turn off media during certain hours of the day or planning a future trip to Europe … I’m trying to choose brave. 

8 thoughts on “I don’t want to be scared of my kids.

  1. I totally get this feeling. Our youngest is very scared of change and has had bad reactions in the past. I’m currently avoiding telling her she has to switch schools next year.
    But I would also say–your kids are young so don’t push yourself to do any major traveling. A car seat in an airport sort of gives me the hives thinking of it.
    But. I *really* wish I would have flown with my girls when they were younger so it wouldn’t be a point of fear for them now that they’re older.
    Parenting is so hard!

    • I did the same thing with Libbie about changing preschools this year! And turns out, it was no big deal, of course. The more she faces new situations the better she handles it.

      I didn’t fly until I was 17 because my mom was horrified of flying. I thought it was going to be SO SCARY. And turns out, it’s not. I felt silly for fearing it so much just because my mom did. And the younger our kids are, the more our own fears influence them (or what we tell them about their fears!).

      • Oh my gosh Jessie, yeah, it’s CRAZY having her here and trying to work! I cram most of my work into naptime/pre-wakeup time!! I’m going to have to have someone come here at least one afternoon a week I think because Scarlette is a BIT of a handful, lol!

  2. Traveling with kids will never be easy, but it is possible. 🙂 Take it from someone whose youngest had been in 4 continents before he turned 8. And they are very resilient. It also gets easier as they get a little older. The best is when they can carry their own carry-on.

  3. I totally get this, Jess. I’ve felt the same way about disciplining them. Will they cry if I tell them no? Will they be mad if I make them do so-and-so again?

    Brave parenting. That’s hard stuff.


    • So true – I think the parents who won’t even say no to their kids are the very severe end of this spectrum. And in a culture that tells us we/they “deserve” everything, I can see where the roots are!

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