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My wife and I are looking forward to try to have a child sometime soon. She's really excited about it, but I can't help but be really scared.

My main fear is that I want to give our child the best life possible, but I'm afraid I will be similar to my own parents. Not to bore you with the details, but my parents were not very supportive of many of my career choice and gave me a hard time for many years because I decided I wanted to be a Software Developer in the Southern part of the US.

I have already established in my mind how I want to treat our children and teach them how to interact, and love them for what they are. I want to take the good things my parents gave me(i.e., good morals, good work ethic), but not be as harsh as they were about many aspects of my life(like my dad being hard on me after every sporting competition I participated in). I've decided that whether my child wants to play soccer or be interested in doing scholars bowl or robotics, I want to be supportive of what they are interested in. Basically, I want them to find what they're interested in and give them the tools to succeed at it.

So my question is why am I so afraid when I already know how I want to parent our child?

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I think you're scared because you're perfectly sane.

Who isn't a little (or a lot) afraid of being responsible for keeping another human alive and well in a world filled with total insanity? You may have had rough times, and you know how you felt during those. Your kid will definitely have some of their own. Just thinking of all the things you went through that you want to spare them from is enough to make you fear the notion of parenthood for sure, but it's not exactly a reason to refuse to be a parent.

I'd bet that the initial fear would dissipate a bit when you realize the pace of parenthood from the beginning. For like 6 months babies do almost nothing, and mostly the first few years of their lives are this haze of tasks that will rob your mind of these fears you mention. You'll probably be more concerned with getting them to put shoes on the right foot, or eat a meal without it getting all over the floor, or having time to take a shower.

As they grow your concerns will change and grow with them. Concerns about brushing teeth, screen time, them waking up at 4 AM, etc. And as they go through school and teen years your concerns will be right there with them.

Who knows why your parents had an issue with you being a software developer in southern USA. Who knows what issues you will have when they make life changing decisions. You'll find out then and in that day you will know if you can stick to your plan to always be supportive. I thought similar things when I became a parent but recently I became very upset at a family gathering when my whole family was cheering on about my girls becoming models. I absolutely detest the modeling industry and my whole family knows this, but there they all were convincing my girls that they should want to be stars, in magazines, and generally "famous." I seriously doubt I would be so supportive if they honestly chose that career path, without the brainwashing from family, TV, or whatever else convinces people to do that with their lives... for all we know, software developing was your parents' modeling.

Point is, it will sneak up on you. And we as parents may try to be supportive but when the time comes we are all put to the test somehow. If you are concerned now, it at least suggests you care about how your child will grow, which means you're better off as a parent than a lot of people are already. So long as your partner knows how you feel, I think you'll be fine, and I don't think there's anything wrong with you.

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    This is a great answer. I wish I could upvote multiple times. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being afraid of becoming a parent. Right now you have no idea what this will encompass, and this huge unknown black hole is scary. But you will grow into your role as a parent, and your fears will become less existential and more mundane, just as KaiQuing says. – Pascal says Talk To Monica Jun 23 '17 at 22:08
  • +1 for that first sentence. That's exactly how I feel and its good to know I'm like other people. – James Khoury Dec 8 '17 at 4:42
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Disclaimer: I am not a parent but I identify with your fear. As I have a similar fear of inadvertently adopting the worst properties of my parents' parenting. And, I'll admit, this is just me spit balling almost, but its too long for a comment.

I think perhaps understanding what made your parents act that way when raising you would help ease your fears.

For example. When I was a kid, my father was generally angry all the time. Without examining further, I can say "Don't be angry around my children" as a rule and move on. However, by examining why I can have much more success in mitigating the same behavior in myself.

As I grew older, I realized my father only acted that way when he was stressed. We grew up poor, so he was always stressed. Now I know that stress is a trigger for that behavior and I make a point to handle it better.

Another example, growing up high marks in school was the most important thing and they set really high standards. If I wanted a job or an extracurricular that didn't contribute to getting into betters schools. They said no. This led to all sorts of negative feelings,rebellions,etc.

I can say "Don't be so hard about grades" and move on. But examining further, they knew how hard it was being poor. That at the very bottom level its akin to living in constant fear. And on reflection, if I someone asked me "Would I want my child to live in constant stress and fear? And what would I do to prevent that?", I might come up with a similar plan to theirs.

They knew education was how to get out poverty. And they were right. 2 decades later, because of that schooling focus I was easily able to get a job where I make more money starting than their retiring salary.

So there's actually some value in that thinking, its just how they went about it and the degree to which was wrong for me. Know why helps me come up with the balance I'd want.

My overall point being: I think the fear comes from wanting to not make the same parenting "mistakes" without identifying what led them to act that way in the first place.

  • I can very much see your point, because it's always been very hard for me to identify why my parents behaved the way that they did, even when I think back and analyze it. – Trey50Daniel Jun 23 '17 at 20:03
  • Agreed. I'm still trying to figure some of their decisions out. I feel its a mixture of their own parents, their experiences and the culture/religion they were a part of (different from mine, they're immigrants). I found the first step towards understanding was to see them as humans instead of 'parents'. It took distance and time to get to that point for me. – user1118978 Jun 23 '17 at 20:39
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The simple answer is that something is wrong

Your (very powerful) unconscious mind is telling you something is wrong. It may be rational or irrational, but you may want to find out what it is before having kids!

I had similar experiences with my own parents and would love kids of my own. I knew how I would parent as well. My main concern was that patterns repeat unless the deeply rooted issues are found and resolved, both in my experience with my own actions related to my parents, with friends, and in psychology classes.

Basically I realized I was uneasy because I was taught how not to be parent. Instead of being shown how to be benevolent, honest, have integrity, and have empathy, I was taught largely the opposite - how to have exploitative, violent one-way relationships with little room for intimacy, individuality, preference, and negotiation. It was not a great experience.

Seven months ago I heard a coworker listening to a podcast. I've since listened to over 200 hours of the show, many of which are about childhood, parenting, abuse, and include several calls from parents having trouble with their kids and inevitably looking for solutions to avoid their parents' mistakes. The real-life conversations are invaluable. The show has quite literally allowed me to change my life. Here is one example (caller 4 at 1:45:49): Sins of the Father

I've also watched a 36-video series on parenting by the same podcaster. He has been podcasting for over 10 years and his sources are well documented in each presentation. Find it here: Peaceful Parenting Series: Raising Children Without Aggression

I would include more links, but I am at my max. Good luck with your future kids!

  • What do you specifically mean by "something is wrong"? I understand the rest of your answer, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean by that. – Trey50Daniel Jun 23 '17 at 18:25
  • I mean simply that your unconscious is trying to tell you something. Fear is a valid response to experiences and surroundings, and being as powerful as the unconscious mind is, it is hard to ignore. I cannot say what is wrong, but I can speculate. Your empathy for your future child may be worrying you about experiencing your childhood in your father's shoes. It could be something about your wife and her own experiences. It could also be a fear that is not necessarily pertinent. It is something that is best explored by you and perhaps your wife as well. – Craig Jun 23 '17 at 18:40
  • Well I spoke with my wife about it and she just tried to assure me that because I was concerned, that I was just trying to make sure that I was going to be a good parent. She then tried to assure me that because I do have some guidelines for how I want to parent, that I am prepared to be a parent. – Trey50Daniel Jun 23 '17 at 18:57
  • It says a lot that you are looking into this, so I applaud you. These answers are dificult to find. They are also dificult to find solutions to. I shared some personal experience and resources that helped me find some answers and I hope it helps. Good luck to you. – Craig Jun 23 '17 at 20:21
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    @Trey50Daniel: Nobody who hasn't done a lot of baby-minding feels like he's prepared to be a parent. That's why we are scared - because we know that shortly we'll be responsible for a real-life human being who is completely dependent on us to survive. But just like your wife says, most likely you'll do just fine. There's not necessarily anything wrong with you, you're just human. – Pascal says Talk To Monica Jun 23 '17 at 22:21

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