Inheritance of fear

I watch my four-year-old son spring from rock to boulder — a little mountain goat — giggling with pleasure.

“Don’t fall!” I call, my motherliness rising like bile in my throat.

He doesn’t hear, and keeps climbing — surefooted, confident.

I hope he never hears my anxiety.



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21 Replies to “Inheritance of fear”

    1. It does feel universal, doesn’t it? I remember reading a book when my kids were small that said specifically NOT to say “don’t fall” to kids because it plants the seed of that action in their heads. Instead, the book suggested you say something like “I really like the way you’re holding tight” or “I love how you look before you jump to the next safe spot” — it encourages that thinking and reinforces the behaviour apparently. I changed how I responded to my children based on that.

    1. Thank you, thank you! As I said to Kalpana, I changed how I responded to my kids doing some hair-raising activity, and it seems to have worked? One’s made it to adulthood, the other’s about to… I’m taking that as signs of success.

    1. I’m glad that worked. There’s a sense of overly-protective, cloying that can accompany over-mothering/helicopter parenting that I wanted to convey.

  1. I love how you were able to add so much depth and tension to the characters’ relationship in such a short piece and simple moment. Very true to life!

    1. Oh I love that, Tara! Like a safety harness. And you’re right, it’s a universal parent thing — I still do this with the dog (who is the only “baby” left in my house).

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