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A Parent's Worst Fear

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When we become parents, we embark on that journey with a pack of unexpressed, yet often pressing, expectations for ourselves and our children. At the first sign that these expectations may not be met, we tend to develop deep-seated fears that capture us, holding us hostage with no reprieve in sight.

What do these fears mean? Where do they come from?

“The fear that we carry with us as parents is that somehow who our children become is a reflection of who we are. If our children are successful, then so are we; and the contrary is also also true.” says Elaine Taylor-Klaus, founder of ImpactADHD.com, a resource for parents of children with ADHD.

So perhaps our fears for our children are simply our worst fears for ourselves.

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We’ll never know if there is a catch-all cause for the fear parents have concerning their children, but we can take a look at these 10 parents who have revealed their biggest fears for their children, a universal tug on the heart strings that every parent who really cares can relate to.

"My mom died when I was 5. My two children are now 4 and 1. I’m scared that I will die when my children are young and they will be here without me. I know if I am here they will be fine no matter what choices they make; I just want to be here."—Pam Isley, 28, N.J.

"My absolute worst fear as a parent is my little black boy's life ending prematurely at the hands of a trigger-happy beat cop or member of neighborhood watch. My son has dark brown skin and dreadlocks. He's already much taller than children his age. My deepest fear is that small-minded people will feel threatened by his appearance instead of giving his warm and loving spirit a fair chance at life."—Nikki Robinson, 23, Valdosta, Ga.

My biggest fear is that she will have autism and it will be linked to something I did or did not do.

"My uncle backed his car over my sister when she was 3 years old and she died in my father's arms on the way to the hospital. Recently, I shared that with a friend who told me what it was like to have his 3-year-old son die of cancer over about a year in time. It has been over 60 years since my sister died and it still makes me cry like a baby. But I now think that the fear of watching a child die over a very long time is much worse than the fear of them being killed in an instant."—Richard Houston, age 71

"My absolute worst fear is that my son will reconnect the cursed family chain of idleness and not giving a damn about his children."—YG Nyghtstorm, 39, Duluth, Georgia

"My great fear as a parent is that my depression and anxiety will pass along to my kids; either from them modeling my behavior or by being genetically predisposed. My older son has the same kinds of reactions that I do. Now that I am getting help for my problems I am modeling better coping skills. But I often wonder if it is too late."—Heidi Saucedo, 35, Gardnerville, Nev.

"My biggest fear is that my sons will hear my loving words, my belief in them, my pride, and use it in their minds as a reason to push away from me. When they are feeling "less than" or as though they're failing I hope my words will encourage them to communicate with me. But I am also very afraid that they will use them to push away or—worse—hold them up as proof that they cannot be who I believe them to be."—Tsara Shelton, 39, Teague, Texas

"My worst fear was that my daughter would be a societal statistic like I was. I was a single unwed teenage mother at the age of 16, which meant I was still a baby myself."—Sinita Wells, 40, St. Louis, Mo.

"I have a daughter who will be 4 months old on Friday. My biggest fear is that she will have autism and it will be linked to something I did or did not do during pregnancy or during her first few months of life. Every day I hear that something else may be linked to autism. In fact, just this morning I read that fluoride in water, or even baby acetaminophen, may be correlated to it. The information is confusing, conflicting and concerning surrounding autism in children."—Anonymous, 29, Washington, D.C.

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"My biggest fear is that my child will grow up without empathy. The ability to put oneself into another's shoes is beyond educational."—Brent LaFoley, 41, Tucson, Ariz.

"My worst fear has always been getting that phone call from the police/state troopers saying 'Are you the parent of…' It is usually followed with, 'He's been involved in an accident…' It's never a good thing to get that type of a call."—Becky Melvin, 51, Jacksonville, Fla.

What's your biggest fear?

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