My eyes dance over my rolling news feed, the headlines acutely negative and pessimistic. I feel a wave of fear engulf me, rocking me to my very core.
And shocking me. My response to the happenings of the world is rightly one of concern but the depth of my reaction surprises me.
Then I look to my side and understand why.
Since I became a mother, my sensitivity to what’s going on around me – be that in my immediate environment or beyond – has increased. And with it, my emotions have heightened – including my fear. How can it not? Because whatever terrible things might be happening outside, they don’t just affect me, they affect my child too. And that’s the worst thing of all.
Which is why I feel so afraid. For her. For the risks and dangers she might have to face, now and in the future. My heart breaks at the thought of her being scared and anxious, daunted by the world in which we live. I feel sad too, my mind racing ahead to the time when I won’t be there for her, when she’ll have to manage without her mother’s automatic reassurance. And all of this is tinged with guilt – what kind of world have I brought this precious girl into?
But, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this. I’m sure that there are many other parents who, like me, find that the perils of our planet are all the more daunting now that we are sharing space with our own beloved offspring. And I am sure, in fact, that this has been a concern for parents for generations.
My own, perhaps, included. After all I grew up in the eighties. I remember watching television programmes which fictionalised what might happen in the event of a nuclear war – and how many parents must have watched these too and wondered at what future awaited their children. It must have been the same for my grandparents and great-grandparents, and many generations before them, who would have watched escalating tensions, war, and destruction and wondered if there would be a world for their sons and daughters to grow up in.
Becoming a parent, any concern we feel for our own safety and security is hugely diminished by the worries we carry for our children. We wholeheartedly wish for them, above all else, to have happy lives, the kind that are afforded by living easily and without dread. Our priority becomes their joy – and anything that threatens that becomes a bigger problem than before. Especially as, very often, it feels that those things going on are out of our direct control.
And so we can focus on what we can control. Bringing our children up with positive values, for example, to provide a framework for them to thrive and grow. Empowering them, whilst teaching them, so they have the knowledge they need to make decisions and choices. Helping them to develop their self-esteem, their resilience, their wellbeing so they can be the best versions of themselves. In this way, they will be able to find their happiness and joy – and maybe they can be the difference the world needs.
And in looking at what we can control, we should also make sure we take time to focus on our world within the world – our family – and live joyfully through them. Celebrating the achievements, such as a mumbled ‘daddy’, heard for the first time. Revelling in the fun, the laughter of a game of hide and seek. Thriving in the love that cloaks us all, providing a protective shield. We can make this world safe and secure and happy so that it always acts as an anecdote to the bigger picture which sometimes may not have these attributes.
The world is often scary. We can manage this fear by parenting joyfully, empowering our children and living with love.