A Parent’s Worst Nightmare: Part Two

14 Nov

The Unknown

I realized that losing Ian for those few terrorizing moments was an experience many parents must have and most probably go through it in a very similar way. I also realized that the not knowing was the terrifying part for me. I don’t remember ever being terrified because of what I might expect or what I might encounter as a parent, only when I was faced with a possible safety issue at the ballpark and did not have enough information. Lack of information caused my terror not their behavior or circumstances.

Adolescent Anxiety

It had only happened a few times while my boys were young, but when they went through adolescence I had a lot of anxiety, especially when they started to drive. I don’t equate it to the terror I felt when I lost Ian at the game but the kind of anxiety that builds when they are older because of the same issue, lack of information, just not as intense or as direct. It is often spread out over hours, not minutes, while you are left waiting until you hear your car finally drive up in the driveway. I don’t think this is all that avoidable, our kids all eventually start to drive. Worry is part of the dynamic as our children grow but it doesn’t have to terrify us. Remembering the information about telling Ian to seek out a police officer when I lost him reduced my sense of terror to worry and finding him knowing that he did what is asked reinforced my commitment to communicate information, not worry.

Information vs. Control

I did the same with the driving thing. I told my boys as much as I could about my driving experiences. I took them out driving and set up challenging experiences. We experienced night driving, snow driving, steep curve driving, playing loud music while driving, fast driving orders, and confusing directions to attempt to recreate possible situations they would ultimately find themselves in. I don’t know if it worked, but I felt less worried because I had given them as much information as I had. If something happened while I was anxiously waiting for them to return all those nights at least I felt they had a better chance for handling the situation that otherwise could lead to a terrifying experience.

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