My fears… not hers. 

My fears… not hers. 

This post was originally published on the Huffington Post at

The other day I took my daughter to feed the ducks. I say ducks, but really they were swans, big, hungry, strong-looking swans. My daughter is tiny, the swans were bigger than her. But there she stood all 22 months of her, tossing bread off of this little platform toward the water, well it was a mouthful for her, mouthful for the swan. As I watched her you couldn’t help but notice her little arms didn’t have much range and getting the bread into the water required her to be very close to the edge of the platform and said group of swans.
As she took her time to toss the bread and eat pieces herself all I could picture was a hungry impatient swan propelling itself toward her to retrieve the bread for himself. I found myself in a Mexican stand-off with a swan. I wanted to pull her back and away from the swan, but I didn’t want her to be scared of the swan, which I clearly was. I didn’t want her to sense the fear I had and adopt it as her own.

Then there was the dog that came running toward her to jump up at her. I immediately yanked her up into my arms so she would be safe, but at what cost? The dog was friendly, he wasn’t coming to hurt or scare her but you wouldn’t have known that by my overreaction. Am I already instilling in her the fear of unknown dogs I have? And do not get me started on bees, they turn me into a deranged seal flapping about in a panic.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a total wuss I am just not great with animals. But I don’t want this for my children. I don’t want them to tense up passing a dog, or jump up and run a mile when they see a bee. I don’t want them to be scared of anything. Fear can be crippling. It can dictate your life, where you holiday, whether you splash about in the pool on your summer holiday, or climb to the top of the Empire State or Blackpool tower and gaze over the edge. It is not surprising that I, or any of us for that matter, don’t want our fears and anxieties to be passed onto our little ones. Did you know the only fear we are born with is heights? No me neither. All our other fears are adopted as we navigate through life and seeing as those little minds can be so influential it is not really surprising.  But how can I avoid this? How can I avoid my children inheriting my fears?

So what to do? What about the ‘do as I say and not as I do approach?’ I have tried this line of parenting and short of hiding in the cupboard eating a biscuit, it does not work, and why should it? If my not yet two-year old can see through it I don’t hold out much hope.  Then I thought, or rather feared, that actually if I want to show my children there is nothing to be afraid of then perhaps I need to do just that. Perhaps I need to grow a pair and I need to show them. I realise that this is easy to say from behind my keyboard and should a swarm of bees come rampaging though the door I would want to hit the deck and cry but it’s got to be worth a try?  Ironic really because it has been becoming a parent that has made me so acutely aware of all the dangers our day to day has to offer.

I don’t suppose it will be that easy, after nearly 30 years of avoiding the biggest dogs in the park it’s hard to envisage that one day I will happily let an Alsatian jump up on me and I’ll pet it’s ferocious looking snout. One thing I do know though, I will do give it my all, I will stand there and face my fear. If I falter? Well I have shown my children that I have put myself out of my comfort zone and faced a fear and that has got to be worth something right? So I am off to dust off my superwoman coat, clamber down from my perch and go feed the swans, wish me luck.

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  1. May 25, 2016 / 10:25 pm

    Good luck with facing your fear and trying not to project it on to your little one. Swans make me nervous too and I’ve tried so hard not to show it in front of my children so they don’t automatically become scared without any real reason to.

    • tammymum
      May 26, 2016 / 6:24 am

      Thank you, it’s hard isn’t it but good on you for trying xx

    • tammymum
      May 26, 2016 / 7:54 pm

      Thank you, it’s a tricky one isn’t it but I’ll give it a go. Thank you for your comment xx

  2. May 26, 2016 / 6:56 am

    This is such a good post – I love how perceptive you are in it and it also really resonates with me. I am actively trying not to put my fears onto my son. It’s not always easy though particularly if they are deep rooted anxieties or irrationalities Thank you for sharing with #FamilyFun x

  3. May 26, 2016 / 9:04 am

    I have a massive fear of spiders and have always tried not to show the boys but I’ve obviously been unsuccessful as now they are older they delight in scaring me with their toy ones, particularly one really awful moving thing… It is not easy but I think we should try not to project our own fears onto them. Interesting guy enough one of my boys doesn’t like spiders either but the other is fine! So is fear really nature or nurture? TY for linking up to #FamilyFun ????

    • tammymum
      May 26, 2016 / 9:02 pm

      Yes very true, they won’t all necessarily adopt our fears – your boys are case in point there but I guess they have more of a chance of being afraid of something if we are? I don’t know about you but I feel as though my little ones copy my every move at the minute! Thanks for your comment xx

  4. May 26, 2016 / 11:55 am

    Hmm… it is an interesting balance isn’t it because you do want to install some fears in your children. For example fear leaning too close when feeding the swans as you don’t want to fall in the water. Fear petting any dog as not all dogs are child friendly or safe and the more obvious one of fear strangers so as not to walk off with one… how do we teach our children dangers without making them afraid? If you know please advise as I am drawing blank! Advice for the fear of dogs though… I was terrified of dogs as a child/adult until I decided that I didn’t want to be so I brought one and my fear is mostly dealt with (apart from the German Shepard running at me or dog across the park…they are just intimidating in my head!!)

    • tammymum
      May 26, 2016 / 8:59 pm

      Wow go you, I don’t think I would be brave enough to buy one, but that’s absolutely the point isn’t it, facing our fears. God I know it’s so hard treading the line between being aware of danger and not creating a fear especially when they are so young and can’t speak or understand everything we tell them when we try to explain. I just hope it won’t be too late to explain when they are able to comprehend! Thanks for your comment lovey xx

  5. May 26, 2016 / 1:26 pm

    Oh Sarah this is so so hard – I have a massive fear of spiders which there is no way on this earth that I can hide from the children – I am terrified and they know it! However, who knows how this has affected my children – one of them looks after me and sorts the spider issue out – removing them safely in a glass and popping outside whilst another one screams like she is watching the most horrific horror movie – is that me or would she have been like it anyway? I don’t know! Good luck with your brave parenting – I couldn’t do it!! #familyfun

    • tammymum
      May 26, 2016 / 8:55 pm

      Hehe yes perhaps some fears we just don’t pass on and our children are their own people with their own minds and their own fears, who knows. Yes conveniently we haven’t fed any more swans as yet… I will man up, honest xx

  6. twotinyhands
    May 27, 2016 / 2:42 am

    I think it’s only natural to want to protect our children. I think I’d be the same when they are so little near swans and big dogs. Think, if the swans were just ducks and the dog was a chihuahua, you’d have left her happily feed herself and the ducks. What about the water she could have fallen in, the older piece of bread that may have had a little mould on… Protecting them is hard and it’s is us that have to asses the dangers! Just think the swan could have come at her and it would have freaked her out, possibly for life, so you did the right thing, teaching them danger won’t necessarily lead to fear! Well done for getting this in Huffington! #triballove ????

    • twotinyhands
      May 27, 2016 / 2:44 am

      Sorry about the ? at the end, meant to be smiley faces!

  7. May 27, 2016 / 10:47 am

    Read this on HuffPost and really enjoyed it. It’s something we should all be aware of but is definitely tricky! All we can do is try. As others have said though there’s a balance as you need kids to be aware of danger. Hmmm! It’s hurting my head haha. #FamilyFun

  8. May 28, 2016 / 5:18 pm

    Ooh good luck with this! And if you find out how to do it, let me know! And give yourself every credit for recognising this and considering it, many parents wouldn’t. I do think some of it is due to nature – for example we had a BIG Labrador until my eldest was 18 months and he was fine with it, but at around 3 he developed a huge fear of all dogs which appeared to come from nowhere.
    I think developmentally they go through these phases and its our job to help them sort out what are actually dangers (I totally think swans count!!) and what they don’t need to fear. Its a tough one!! xxx #FamilyFun

    • tammymum
      May 29, 2016 / 6:42 am

      Yes I think you’re right I don’t think it is all down to the parents but and nature definitely has a part to play. Equally I imagine some fears must be passed on through our nurturing, whether I’ll be able to avoid it who knows, but I’ll give it a go… Thanks for your comment xx

  9. May 28, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    It is really hard to not show your fears in front of children. My daughter is afraid of spiders and that is probably because more than once she has seen me squealing and running in fear from the smallest of spiders! I think I may need to work on this lol
    Great post.

    • tammymum
      May 29, 2016 / 6:39 am

      Oh it so is. I’m not saying I’ll be able to hide my fears, probably fail at the first hurdle, but I’ll give it a go. Thank you for your comment xx

  10. Kate Orson
    May 29, 2016 / 6:07 am

    Great post. It’s funny all these little fears, that we might not even have thought much about until we realise our children might pick up on them. I recently noticed my daughter has a bit of a fear of climbing, and when I was trying to help her with it, I noticed that I was a bit fearful too! TIme to face my fear and help her too, I think. #familyfun

    • tammymum
      May 29, 2016 / 6:37 am

      Ha yes it is surprising isn’t it! Good luck with the fear facing xx

  11. May 29, 2016 / 1:14 pm

    I have been the same with my kids and spiders – I have tried so hard to not freak out when I see one. I think it has helped me as well as them! Thanks for linking up to #KCACOLS this week, hope to see you there agin next time

  12. May 29, 2016 / 6:51 pm

    I am the same as you with irrational fears of certain animals! I had to learn to hide it well and act totally cool when I started to teach reception class and we would regularly be faced with bees, wasps and spiders. I had a similar situation feeding the ducks with Arthur – a swarm of seagulls came for his bread, but they really can be dangerous to little ones so I feel justified in taking him away! #KCACOLS

  13. May 29, 2016 / 8:26 pm

    I’m terrified of snakes…but we went to a children’s museum recently that had animals for the kids to touch/hold. Mini R had a snake on his shoulders and I stood smiling and taking pictures…it was difficult but, like you, I don’t want my fear to rub off on him. #KCACOLS

  14. May 30, 2016 / 9:38 am

    I think it is understandable to have these fears and admirable to not want to pass these on. Mother has some fears of her own but is trying to keep them from me too.

  15. May 30, 2016 / 1:24 pm

    Such a thought provoking post.
    I’ve honestly never really given much thought to my fears, and how they may be projected on my son. He’s just now beginning to walk, and I’m currently trying to teach myself not to react when he stumbles. When he trips over his own two feet, protective mama bear wants to rush over and catch him. But, I know that he can do it himself-I’ve seen him catch himself and keep right on going so many times.
    It’s tough resisting the urge to just wrap them in bubble wrap and keep them all for yourself! x #KCACOLS

  16. May 30, 2016 / 5:22 pm

    Oh it is such a hard one isn’t it. I have a fear of dogs and when I was little a massive dog got off its lead and came hurtling towards me, I was so terrified that I jumped straight into the road and into the path of an oncoming car. I was very lucky to not get hurt. I try really hard not to pass this fear onto my little ones but it can be hard because we want to protect them too. I am with you on swans too!! #bigpinklink

  17. May 31, 2016 / 2:55 pm

    I totally agree with you, it’s so hard. I’m scared of dogs and cats and it does make me nervous whenever they approach Emma in the pram, but I try not to show it as I don’t want to pass those fears on to her. But it’s hard because in the back of my mind I just can’t help thinking of what might happen if it hurt her..beautifully written post xx #KCACOLS

  18. May 31, 2016 / 4:54 pm

    It is really difficult not to project our own fears on our kids. I am terrified of bees/wasps, spiders and sharks but it is difficult not to show this to my kids! Thanks for sharing on #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. May 31, 2016 / 8:19 pm

    Good luck! It’s so difficult to tackle something head on that you’re scared of. I know I struggle with swans – I watched my dog, and then my dad, get attacked by them when I was younger, so i’ve always been quite wary of them. It’s a difficult balancing act between being safe, and passing on your fears, isn’t it? #KCACOLS

  20. May 31, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    I think with the dog you could’ve picked her up with a laugh saying something silly and making a joke out of it. #kcacols

  21. May 31, 2016 / 9:48 pm

    Everybody has their “thing” My wife is also terrified of the ducks that I take our little to feed and look at. I hate her being anywhere near our pool, even if I’m right there. Parenting takes all of our hidden insecurities and brings them out front and center. #KCACOLS

  22. June 1, 2016 / 5:48 am

    First, I too am terrified of bees, like a little wimpy baby when I see one. Now on to the fear passing on, in my experience sometimes our kids see us scared and go, oh ya, well I am not scared Mommy and Daddy so HA! Seriously my daughter lives to bedevil her Daddy if he gets freaked out, she is on it. That spider scare you daddy? I’m gonna touch it, does that freak you out more daddy? Don’t worry, deal with your fears as best you can, except the bees, those suckers are evil stinging machines of doom, don’t be surprised if she picks up on your fears and adapts them, discards them, or opts to freak you out even more! #KCACOLS

    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 4:22 pm

      Haha she sounds truly fab your little girl good on her for not being afraid. I absolutely love your description of bees too, spot on! Thanks for your comment xx

  23. alisonlonghurst
    June 1, 2016 / 7:09 am

    Good to link up and a really interesting post. It is a tricky one. We have dogs – two big, fluffy ones – and occasionally a parent pulls a child away from them, without questioning their child’s interest. I don’t blame them, however, I can see that this is telling the child there is a danger. Perhaps the better approach would be to ask us if it is ok for them to stroke the dogs and to do it together. That’s why I like your idea of donning the superwoman coat! As parents I think we have to, although I have tried this approach with spiders and two of my kids are still terrified of them! As usual, there are no easy answers. A great debating issue! Alison #BloggerClubUK

    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 4:20 pm

      Ha no there is certainly no easy answer. I know I just hate being scared of dogs and really wouldn’t want that for my little ones, especially when 99% of the time it is an unfounded fear. You’re right though there needs to be some caution as there is always that time when they may be presented with actual danger. Like you say – tricky! Thanks for your comment xx

  24. June 1, 2016 / 9:50 am

    Yes, this. I’m the same with wasps and desperately try to hold it together. There’s no denying though that my daughter, at two, could probably hear the panic in my voice as I squeakily suggested she didn’t stroke the bee…

    When we were on holiday I was stung by a wasp in my mouth… It had snuck into my cider. It wasn’t that bad. So why then does the fear engulf me? It’s so frustrating! I hate hearing the whine of a mosquito too… Pathetic…

    So let’s both keep trying. We can only do our best! #BloggerClubUK

    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 4:18 pm

      Oh yes wasps, do not like them either and what a nastsy experience you have had! But yes let go forth an be as brave as we can eh…but when they’re not there can I wail like a banshee and scream for the other half to come rescue me? ???? thanks for your comment xx

  25. June 1, 2016 / 11:15 am

    This was so great. I have tried not showing my children fears but you are so right, they see right through you. I have also one I can not hide, spiders! EWWWWWW So I told them that although they make me nervous you don’t need to be. I let them know it is ok to be afraid but not ok to let it rule us. I still go outside and we look at the webs and discuss what types of spiders they are, then I inwardly count until the crippling fear passes. LOL Love this post, thank you! #KCACOLS

    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 4:16 pm

      Ah that’s an excellent way to deal with it, I shall definitely be adopting that should my facing them head on go belly up. Thanks for a fab comment xx

  26. agentspitback
    June 1, 2016 / 11:54 am

    That’s so interesting – fear of heights and no, I didn’t know that either. I think we need to recognise that parents are human too and we have our fears to deal with. I know where you are coming from and I share the same thoughts but I think it’s okay to allow ourselves the fear. I always tell my children that I am human and am trying to deal with the same emotions as them and that’s all right. All my children have very different fears, since day 1 and so I do believe that there must be some “nature” component to that because if fears are learnt, then they should have the same fears as each other and me and from their Dad. This is a well written post! Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

  27. June 1, 2016 / 1:37 pm

    Good luck hon. This is a fantastic post and I like how you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and face your fears. This will be teaching your children such a valuable life lesson.xx #KCACOLS

    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 4:15 pm

      Ah thank you that’s a lovely comment x

  28. June 1, 2016 / 7:52 pm


    I regularly go to feed the swans, the geese and the ducks with Cygnet because we live by a river. There are also a fair few dog walkers by the tow path. I think you are right to be a bit nervous to be honest. The geese can be viscous! The swans are generally okay and the ducks are harmless, but I think you are right to encourage your daughter to be a bit cautious. I have also been bitten by a dog so I am also a bit nervous of them myself. I am trying to encourage Cygnet to touch and stroke the dogs and dogs of all sizes, but I will only do so once I have made eye contact with the owner and feel confident that they trust their dog with a small child and are happy for me to encourage Cygnet to touch the dog. I always crouch down with Cygnet and talk to him to encourage him to touch the dogs. I agree that you don’t want your daughter to take on your fear, but fearlessness can be dangerous. Cautious confidence is the way forward in my view.

    Good luck

    Pen xx (a very tame swan 😉


    • tammymum
      June 1, 2016 / 8:15 pm

      Thank you, yes I do believe you are right and that is very sound advice. I think caution is needed when facing dogs and other animals it’s just the fear itself I wish to hide as best I can anyway…. Thanks for your lovely comment xx

  29. Morgan Prince
    June 2, 2016 / 3:06 pm

    A great post and one that I think many parents will relate to. I have tried for many years to hide my fear of flying from my children. We’ve been on planes loads of times and some of those times I’ve ended up in tears. It was so difficult to keep my fear from them but somehow I managed it and they are not scared of flying. My boys are 11 and 7 and they love being on a plane, so that, at least, I managed. Good luck with feeding the swans hun, and good for you for trying to teach your children not to be afraid. :)

    • tammymum
      June 2, 2016 / 4:29 pm

      Oh that must have been so hard but good on you for still boarding that flight! Thank you for your lovely comment xx

  30. June 3, 2016 / 10:40 pm

    Great post and definitely a subject that has crossed my mind in the last few months. Like you im really keen not to pass on my silly little fears of spiders and wasps and other things like that to my little one and have tried hard to not show them in front of her. But somehow she has picked up on them anyway and is now just as scared of them as I am which makes me a little sad to see :-( Definitely food for thought.. Thanks for linking up to #MarvMondays. Emily

  31. June 4, 2016 / 5:55 pm

    It’s so hard because fear is irrational. I am terrified of spiders! My every instinct is to scream and jump on a chair when I see one, but I have been trying to say to my girls, “Oh look, what a lovely little spider! Shall we get daddy to put him outside with his friends?” My family think it’s hilarious because they no how ridiculously frightened I am of spiders, but my girls are adamant that I love them! haha #familyfun

  32. June 5, 2016 / 11:01 pm

    My eldest (12yo) is scared of literally everything. It drives me bonkers as I think it’s a bit of drama queen thing on her part if I’m honest but that said…I grew up very fearful. Even now, I could never go trail running cos Im terrified of tripping on rough terrain and falling over, I only made myself jump into deep water 8 years ago when we moved to Malta and had our own pool for a while and Im finally a lot better with dogs. But tonight as I was finishing my run and an uncollared dog rounded the corner, did I nearly leap out of my skin? Yep… I’ve worked on not instilling those fears in my kids but with mixed results A friend of mine in NZ surfs with his kids and goes mountain biking and skiing with them. I’d be useless! #marvmondays

  33. Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    June 7, 2016 / 9:00 am

    It’s a tough one. You don’t want them to be afraid but you also want to keep them safe. Not all dogs are friendly so it’s no harm to teach your children to be cautious around strange dogs. And swans – not my fav after one chased me trying to bite me. So I say follow your mom instincts – they are usually right on. Thanks so much for linking up with us at #BloggerClubUK