Unintentionally Passing Fears and Phobias On to Our Children

Passing on our Fears to the KidsMy daughter is a water baby. Since she was an infant she’s simply been obsessed with being in the water, and my husband Sam has encouraged her to be comfortable and confident swimming and playing. He has taught her about water safety, and while she’s cautious and understands how dangerous not being careful around water can be, she doesn’t have a fear of it.

This is all great. The only problem is that I happen to have an irrational fear of drains.

I’m afraid of all kinds, but pool drains just about do me in. Deep end drains are the worst ever — just the thought of their horrid, murky selves under the water looking at me makes me want to scream.

I can’t even look at them while standing beside a pool, and I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember. I’m 30, and still can’t take a bath without covering up the drain. So there’s that.

This week we traveled to my aunt’s home in California for my grandma’s birthday and to spend some time with our family. She has a wonderful pool in the backyard, and we all let Bella know the rules and made sure she was never outside alone.

The first day in, I asked my aunt, “Oh yeah – where’s the drain?” Everyone knows I hate them so they told me it was in the deep end (which makes it even more terrifying because then it’s all dark and awful). We were keeping Bella in the shallow side so I didn’t think about it again except to shudder and explain I’d been afraid of them forever.

The next thing I hear is Bella’s tiny voice telling everyone, “I am afraid of drains.” She was moving away from a water filter on the side and looking at it. For the rest of the day, she wanted nothing to do with it.

I felt so badly. Not only was I unable to get over my own fear, but now I’d passed it on to my fearless kid. She didn’t have a care in the world when it came to swimming or pools before I had to open my mouth and announce my fear of drains.

Second only to my fear of drains themselves is another fear. The one that I’d pass this slightly insane irrational fear on to my daughter.

I didn’t say anything else, and by the next day she had stopped mentioning it. I still worry about having planted that seed, though. I know how paralyzing it was for me as a child, and continues to be for me as an adult. I never want her to feel that way.

How do we go about this as parents? Especially if it’s not a fear we’ve ever been able to conquer?


Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Liberating Working Moms, Still Standing Magazine, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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