When I was a kid I thought one day I’d like to have 6 kids. I wasn’t really thinking much through. I was thinking about having people to play with. But as I got older I developed a fear of having children.
Babies are so fragile, needy, and demanding. What if having kids ruined my life? What if I ruined theirs? I have three kids now, so clearly I got over it! How did this happen?
The Fear of Having Children Has A Name
The actually isn’t a precise clinical name for the fear of having children. A general fear of all children is called pedophobia, but that’s not likely what you have. Then there’s tokophobia – which means the fear of giving birth.
I think what’s most common is the fear of the responsibility of having a child. Questions arise.
“Will I be a good parent?”
“Can I care for a fragile, needy baby?”
At least those are what drove my anxiety.
I have kids – so how did I get I “get over it”? Well, at some point I realized I should leave it up to God. So I went off birth control. I truly felt at the time that I would be comfortable with whatever happened. I was not trying or hoping to get pregnant, I just let go of control.
It’s Normal To Be Afraid Of Having A Baby
To be concerned is to care. It’s normal, especially when it’s your first. Pregnancy causes a ridiculous amount of things to happen to your body that have never happened before.
Things are stretching, leaking, and growing. It’s awkward, emotional, and normal to be scared, especially of birth. Moms aren’t afraid to share that it hurts!! And it does.
But by my third kid, that fear was mostly gone. And especially being particularly sick that pregnancy (including vomiting the day I gave birth), I was ready to go through anything to get that baby out!!
That’s the blessing of the discomfort of the end of pregnancy. There’s increased motivation to move on from that phase, even if it means a painful transition.
Change Is Scary
Change is scary. No matter what the change is, good or bad, it can be hard. The thought of giving up your freedom and taking on so much responsibility can be intimidating.
I’m not going to lie, life gets more complicated after having kids. Babies especially are very demanding and the torture of sleep deprivation is real.
But that season passes. The new normal sets in and there’s so much joy and delight to be had. Loving someone so unconditionally is more beautiful than it is hard.
The Fear of Being a Parent
I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone this, but when I first saw my first-born, placed on my belly, my first thought was “What is this thing?” Honest to goodness. Maybe it was the 40 hours of labor with no food or sleep, but it felt like someone dropped a little alien on me. They don’t come out looking like Gerber babies. Babies are scary!
I had read up on babies, but that was as useful as reading up on surgery. It’s a whole different story when someone throws a human at you and says “Have at it!” They’re so fragile and different.
Fear of Being a Bad Mother
I tripped and stumbled along, keeping her alive, wrestling with my own preconceived notions about babies, the human condition, and the burden of having responsibility for another soul. What if I ruined her life?
I knew I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted to have a healthy relationship built on trust, love, and compassion, but when does that start? How is it developed?
Looking back, I believe the struggle was good. These are important questions and weighty topics. We ought to take the raising of a child seriously. Questioning keeps you humble and learning keeps you growing.
As I learned and experiences more, I became more confident. I now know that building connection starts right away.
What you do from the beginning matters. The relationship grows and changes through the unique stages of child development, so it’s important to remain humble.
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Help From The Bible
We aren’t left without insight from the Bible. The Gospels tell of a time when Jesus was being followed by large crowds, speaking to and healing them as he went. But when the people brought little children to Jesus, the disciples rebuked them. To the disciples, these little children were in the way of more important people and activities.
Jesus saw it differently, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
It’s easy to cast children aside, to think of them as less important. But Jesus esteems, welcomes, and protects children. He sees their value, their humility, faith, sense of wonder, curiosity, and innocence.
Finding the Praiseworthy
In I Cor 14:20 Paul says, “In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”
These little ones, made in the image of God, have less experience with evil. They haven’t learned yet to distrust, put up walls, become cynical, or self-righteous.
In fact, studies show that during the first few months a baby thinks he’s just an appendage of the mother! It isn’t until 15-24 months that a child begins to understand that he is an individual and begins to experience new emotions such as embarrassment and envy.
Final Thoughts on The Fear of Having Children
Am I over the fear of having children? Yes and no. I think I will always have some fear of being a parent, but by that I mean a respect for the responsibility.
But with the perspective of Christ, I delight in them. I can see their beauty. I can receive them with open, even if nervous, arms and learn wondrous things from their fresh little perspectives. And I hope you are able to do that too.
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