Kid Fears

I had a realization this morning and it is complicated. I will try to work my way around to it. Possible triggers ahead.

Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls wrote the song Kid Fears and it is a gut-wrenching favorite of mine. I saw in several places online (but could not find a direct source of the information to adequately credit) that the song was written about the fears of young girls that suffered some type of abuse, sexually, physically, emotionally or simply fears of the unknown. It is a powerful song.

There are a number of contemporary music artists who have written about childhood fears. Perhaps those songs come from the hearts of a generation of children raised in fear. We only know what they share.

I have someone (a young someone) in my life who has expressed fears to me. It is heartbreaking to hear. Young people seem to carry so much fear. Fear of hate, fear of evil, fear of being shot in school, fear of Satan…you name it. We are raising a generation of children who spend a majority of their life isolated searching for a place they feel safe.

In a conversation with my daughter this morning, I realized the only fear I felt as a child came from what I thought I heard in church. Sin was preached from the beginning and I grew up thinking I could never be good enough. Even though I knew there was forgiveness, thinking about trying to live a perfect life set expectations for a standard I could never achieve.

When my first marriage started to break down, I remember going to my minister for advice. My husband had abandoned me and our daughter. He was gone, out of state, with no way to reach him. I was told that marriage was made in heaven and I should just wait until he grew up and he would come back to me. I discussed with my father afterward. He paused, looked me in the eye and asked, “What if your marriage was made in hell?” It was at that moment I decided my daughter and I deserved better. I never looked back.

I do not like to discuss religion or politics on my blog. I consider myself a Christian, although I do not subscribe to many of organized religion’s doctrines. I was taught of a “jealous God and an angry God” and now, reflecting on my life, I choose to believe in a “loving God”.

I grew up in the mountains. We had rattlesnakes and copperheads and bears but none of those made me fearful. It was the underlying fear of making mistakes that established the early path for my life. There is one particular Bible verse that I wrestled with as a child and here I am 65 years old and my emotional child memory still has fear around it.

There are so many valid fears for children and as parents, grandparents, and trusted advisors, I hope we are doing our best to provide a safe place for children to express those fears and hope we provide comfort and reassurance as much as we possibly can.

How do we find a way to raise children in a space of joy while teaching the reality of life without imposing fear? The worst heartbreak for me, are those children who live in fear in their own homes. Many of my adult friends lived that life and I can only imagine what that must have been like.

I always appreciate thoughtful comments and sharing on my blog. I value your experiences and dialogue but I will not discuss the right or wrong of anyone’s personal religious convictions. We are powerful in our differences.

9 thoughts on “Kid Fears”

  1. Maggie, your post makes me want to cry. I too am sad for children living in any kind of fear. As you described in your post, I grew up in a church where sin was the main sermon topic–not love or forgiveness. Good people, scary message. I became afraid I would commit, or possibly had already committed, the unpardonable sin mentioned in Mark 3. I wrestled with this fear through my early adulthood. Loving Christians helped me understand the meaning of that passage of Scripture and accept the truth that God accepts ME! I share that message through my website and at every opportunity I have to speak to “fearing” Christians, young and old. Thank you for your wonderful post today.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Debbie. It is helpful to know many of us shared similar experiences. I am hopeful that we are more careful of the situations we put our children in. I appreciate you so much.


  2. When I was around eight years old, the talk was always of nuclear war. We had information films telling us what to do in the event of an attack, and the news always seemed to be reporting that an all-out war was ‘imminent’. Right up to my early teens, the scares continued, and I often used to dream about mushroom clouds and firestorms wiping us all out in London.

    It seemed I lived much of my life fearing a nuclear war that never happened. I suppose I could say that it badly tarnished my early years, but of course I grew out of that fear.

    It occurred to me in my 30s that adults should be more careful what they talk about in front of children. What is conversation to some people can be sheer terror to a child.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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    1. We had those exercises in school, too, Pete. For some reason I never felt long-lasting fear from those. Of course when I was growing up in America, there was much discussion of home bomb shelters which gave a sense of survivability even though we did not have one ourselves. I do, however, remember being fearful of eating snow that contained ‘fallout’. ‘Snow Cream’ was my favorite winter treat.

      I agree, we should be more careful what things we expose our children to. Scars take a long time to heal.

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  3. As one who lived in constant fear at home growing up, I am grateful that the cycle of violence broke with me and my daughter’s father. She has grown to have a safe home for her children. The safety I most admire at their home is the ability of the kids to tell her anything and everything without shaming. Quite amazing. As for the larger world, I don’t know. At least they sleep safely at night!

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    1. What a relief that must be, Elizabeth. You made a better life for yourself, your children and grandchildren. I am so happy the cycle has ended for you and your family.

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  4. As you know my home was filled with fear and worry. Never from religion however. I was taught that G-d loved everyone and to be connected to G-d you could question if you did not understand and ask forgiveness if you wronged anyone.

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