(I wrote this a long time ago but never hit “publish.” Two of my three kids are now adults, which slightly changes my personal context. But, the essay still stands, a little encouragement for expats as we face life in sometimes challenging locations.)
“You’re Much More Likely to Be Killed By Brain-Eating Parasites, Texting While Driving, Toddlers, Lightning, Falling Out of Bed, Alcoholism, Food Poisoning, Choking On Food, a Financial Crash, Obesity, Medical Errors or “Autoerotic Asphyxiation” than by Terrorists.” (washingtonsblog)
- Are Americans more at risk of dying by terrorist or dying by an appliance falling on us?
- Is a predator more likely to attack a child walking home from the playground alone or to attack a child playing in the home?
- Does a child face more of a health risk while climbing a tree or while staring at an iPad?
- Are more kids injured by sledding or by television sets?
10,000 kids went to the ER in 2012 because of sledding accidents.
26,000 kids went to the ER because of television set injuries.
- Are kids more at risk while walking home from school or while riding in a car?
- Is a kid more likely to be kidnapped and killed by a stranger or struck by lightening?
- Do more children die at homes with a swimming pool or a gun?
- Are parents more likely to be afraid of the house with the swimming pool or the gun?
The house with the gun.
- True or false: The five most likely things to cause injuries to kids are: kidnapping, terrorists, school shooters, dangerous strangers, and drugs.
False. Those are the five things parents are most worried about.
The five things most likely to cause injury to kids are: car accidents, homicide (by someone they know), child abuse, suicide, and drowning.
We fear the dramatic, the unexpected, the unknown, the stories that make news headlines, and the events that are out of our control. If anything, we should fear the every day, the mundane, the average, the things that are so commonplace they don’t make the nightly news. To be clear, I’m not encouraging us to be afraid of anything, just saying we have our ideas mixed up.
According to the CDC, the least safe thing we can do with our kids is drive them anywhere. And, according to Warwick Cairns, author of How to Live Dangerously, if we wanted our child to be kidnapped, it might happen if we left them on a street corner for 750,000 hours. That is 31,500 days or 85.6 years. But if we want them to be in a car accident, all we have to do is drive them around for 18 years, which we all do.
I don’t think parents can ever entirely get rid of the fear of something happening to our children. I’m sure even my own parents, 40 years after my birth, worry about me. But we can stop using our fears to constrict our children and we can stop using our fears to construct a false sense of security.
We need to refuse to live in the world of ‘what if.’ Living in that world is what is actually dangerous for our children. It is dangerous to model fear as the guiding force in our lives. Dangerous to not engage in the world as it is, broken as it is.
We can live with an expansive, wild love that is stronger than our fear. We can train our kids to think creatively, act decisively, and to understand the world around them. We can model courage and resiliency. We can demonstrate faith.
I don’t want to raise children who are afraid but rather children who are engaged, courageous, and who know that life will not be perfect or risk-free. I want to teach them that yes, something bad might happen to us, and when or if it does, we will walk through it together to find hope and healing. Because that is the reality.
I can’t protect them every second, even if I wanted to or tried. I am not in control and pretending I am leaves all of us unprepared for pain. And that is what would be dangerous for my kids.
How do you face your fears and those of your family?