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Are Most Parents Worried About the Wrong Stuff?

Are Most Parents Worried About the Wrong Stuff?

If you are a parent (odds are at least half of you reading this are) then you inevitably find yourself worrying about your children. Sometimes it is about the things you can’t change, like: is my child growing fast enough? Is he/she growing too fast? Does my child have a learning disability? Is he/she pulling away? Etc.

And sometimes you worry about the things you think, or feel, like you can control or impact. Is my child exposed to too much media? Are those vegetables organic? Is my child too smart for this school program? Does he/she need more or less direction from us parents? How can I keep my child safe from predators and child abduction?

The last one I mentioned is an interesting one, because according to British writer Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously, your child would have to stand outside alone for about 750,000 hours in order to provide a guarantee that they would be kidnapped (and even then, they would probably succumb to the elements before anyone put a hand on them). Still children are abducted every year (according to the Department of Justice, 797,500 children are reported missing each year, but the majority of these are not abductions) and parents do worry about these things, but, statistically, is it for good reason, and are we worrying about the right things?

In the latest rebuke to the legions of worried parents, Christine Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide, says, “Parents are just bad at risk assessment.” In her estimation, we are obsessed with the worst-case scenario and, “We are constantly overestimating rare dangers while underestimating common ones.” This is likely due to the deluge of panic that floods into our homes (and brains) in the form of cautionary media reports, internet rumors, and urban myths. While a percentage of these reports may be factual, the emphasis placed upon them tend to distort the risk – making the probability of a tree limb crushing your toddler seem far more probable than it really is.

According to Barnes, and based on surveys published in her book, the following are the top five worries of parents concerning their children (in order):
1. Kidnapping
2. School snipers
3. Terrorists
4. Dangerous strangers
5. Drugs

But in reality, statistically speaking, these are the things you need to truly worry about concerning your child:
1. Car accidents
2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
3. Abuse
4. Suicide
5. Drowning

Still, we as parents worry, as it seems to be an indisputable part of the responsibility of parenting. But is it at all necessary, or even productive? And by actively worrying, or being overprotective and fearful, are we teaching our children to live in fear of the world around them? Is there a way to balance the responsibility of parenting, as well as the concerns that comes along with it, with an approach that holds more confidence, trust, and serenity? Or is the world just too scary to let down your guard, even for a second?

Read more: Babies, Blogs, Caregiving, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Teens, , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.


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10:14PM PST on Jan 2, 2013

Like any mom, I worry when it comes to my kid's safety. Choking and child molestation are my two biggest fears. And since there's no real way to tell if someone is a molester or not, I've decided that the best way to protect my daughter is to have her registered to SafeKidZone. It's a panic button application installed on my daughter's phone that whenver she's in trouble she will just press it and it will simultaneously alert her loved ones and the 24/7 call center that she needs help and if needed, the call will be routed to the nearest 911 in her area. You can visit their site and you will find more of their interesting features

1:49AM PST on Jan 16, 2012

Even if it's not homicide, most abuse happens by someone known to the child, not stranger danger. That's why I'm pushing for laws to tighten up on these issues. Not only is the known dangers more personal against the child, it's much more wide spread.

1:21PM PST on Jan 11, 2012

It is your job as a parent to worry about your children . I t depends though on you how extreme you worry. They need to learn from their experiences and as long as you give them the right morals on life and set a good example thats all you can do other than being there when they need you.

10:21AM PST on Jan 11, 2012

Thank you!!! My mom worries a lot for my siblings. I remember being in middle school and my mom yelling at us blaming my younger brother of sexually abusing my baby sister(it was never true, my mom was overly paranoid, she was allergic to the baby powder) and if it wasn't him, then it was our friends that would come over( we'd hang out in the living room nowhere near her). *sigh* she should've been more concerned with the verbal abuse our dad would give us and her.

11:00AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

I would rather be a parent who worries, and then creates productive solutions for my concerns (IE, meeting all friends' parents and not allowing playdates at houses that give me any heebie jeebies, talking to my child about abuse, etc) over playing it fast and loose with my child's life. The reason why we worry about abuse and suicide (I don't worry about the first list), is because THEY HAPPEN and more importantly, THEY ARE PREVENTABLE.
This being said, once you figure out solutions and do your best to prevent these things, stop actively worrying and start practicing your solutions.

7:37AM PST on Jan 10, 2012


worry about money is something that clearly can be stressful.

But - Bernie Siegel who is expert on miracles reccomends the work of a prayer expert. One of her skills is prayer to heal issues like worry

e.g worry about money:

e.g worry about future, the unknown, change:

i cant guarantee they will help everyone - ive used alot of Anns products, they helped me - even if not likely manifesting money

1:27AM PST on Jan 10, 2012

I am an granny now, but when I was raising my children the only thing I got them to worry about was the fact that they mustn't pick up poisonous snakes or bring Red Back spiders into the house for pets and they must wash their hands after they had been to the toilet! They climbed trees as soon as they could walk and unbeknown to them, watched them constantly, but let them play with mud and leaves and paddle with the ducks and roll around playing with the dogs and cats and goats, but the thing I was most concerned with was turning them into loving and caring human beings and who looked out for other people and develop a love of all animals and the environment. I didn't put much accent on germs and dirt! Well.. they survived my rather eccentric child-rearing methods and became the most wonderful and loving adults. Then my daughter had her first child and suddenly it was all WORRY about GERMS!! Worry about Abduction Worry about.. you name it!!! The other day I showed her some old photos of her playing in the mud with the animals and reminded her that SHE never got asthma and SHE never got tummy bugs and her daughter does!! She had forgotten her lovely free child-hood, but those pictures started to stir her memories of the fun she had had and the freedom from a parent controlling every more and constantly worrying. She said that from now on she was going to try and be less anxious and just have FUN with her daugher and worry more bout LOVING her than keeping her squeaky clea

11:41PM PST on Jan 9, 2012

I read every available thing I could about babies up to the terrible twos.

I found out that it's all wrong, it's all right. Relax, trust you. When it gets to be too much it's really OK to ask for help, a break, a pillow to beat.

Babies are waterproof, but not drown proof.

7:23PM PST on Jan 9, 2012

I am really surprised that abuse and suicide did not make the first list. It seems as though every other day there is an article about a child committing suicide b/c of bullying or depression. It sounds like parents spend too much time worrying about how everything is going to affect their kid and not enough time with the kid themselves.

5:46PM PST on Jan 9, 2012

it is a parents job to worry. About all things. If we didn't, we'd be sorry excuses for parent. Just don't let the worry rule you. Focus on what you can change, educate your kids, and ask for advice from people who have been there

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

5 outta 10 for me...

Hmmm. No news here, but some evidence of the extent to which each "fights" cancer would be helpful.

U know? its pathetic this subject has to be even put in print!!! Time to go PUKE!!! *~*

yay!! almost all of my favorites!! may i pee freely!!


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