In parenting, fear of harm is the enemy of progress

We tend to be overprotective instead of giving kids chance to grow

In Summary

• Our fears contribute largely to the setbacks our babies face

A mother and her baby
A mother and her baby

As you know, my son and I have been attending his daycare together as we get him settled in. He is supposed to start part-time day care for six hours a day sometime mid this month. However, the woman who runs the facility had been urging me to start taking a step back. I started by spending time in the kitchen, then leaving the facility for short amounts of time.

However, last week, the caregiver asked me to drop off my son and leave. As expected, the kid threw himself on the floor with an outburst. I decided to walk to the end of the street and then back again to see if the kid was still crying. I passed right underneath the window and did not hear a peep. Still, I wasn’t convinced and stayed in the neighbourhood just in case the owner would call… and she did! My heart started beating fast as I answered. On the other end, the lady sounded cheery as she told me everything is well and my son is settled.

I don’t know why I am so fearful of leaving him at the daycare when I have had him enrolled in school in Kenya. I did not even worry about him on his first day there as much as I worry about him constantly in a foreign land. Will he give the other children trouble? Will he exhaust the poor lady? He’s so much more energetic and wild compared to the mellow kids here.

When I look back, I realise that my fear has almost always stopped me from letting him progress. I’m afraid he will hurt himself or others. I’m afraid of him being a ‘nuisance’ to others. I’m afraid of him advancing too fast or too slow. In my fear, I only saw the potential dangers that lay ahead that I barely saw his readiness and willingness to move forward.

Just the other day, my husband and I stared at each other as our son made it down one flight of stairs by himself! We never ever allow it. We always make him hold our hand if he wants to walk down the stairs. On this particular day, I was ahead and the baby and the dad were behind. Seeing me in front made him want to join me and he therefore let go of his father and made his way down before either of us had a chance to react!

Parental fears are driven by concern for the safety and well-being of our children. Sometimes we forget that children are meant to push the boundaries of their surroundings so that they may grow and learn. To do this, we have to let go and let them explore without our fears holding them back.

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