Worry is the New Greed

May 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm 5 comments

When it comes to the seven deadly sins, greed is one that we all recognize even on the oldest versions of the list.   (Unlike “acedia,” which I had never even heard of.)  Greed is when you have an excessive amount of desire, especially when it comes to money or power.  In our modern world, I think another type of greed has evolved–an excessive desire for complete safety.  This greed expresses itself in the form of worry, and there are examples of it everywhere you look, but you do not know the depths of this worry until you hang around with a bunch of moms.

Mothers are encouraged to start worrying when pregnant and continue to worry indefinitely. They are told:  Don’t sleep on your side!  Don’t eat spicy food! Don’t drink coffee! I have friends who wouldn’t eat sushi even months after they had their babies because they didn’t realize the warning was just to keep them from getting food poisoning.  (Although I would totally trust a chi-chi Japanese restaurant to keep me safer eating raw fish than a diner would serving me a hamburger.)

We, the parents of America, live in the safest world that humans have ever inhabited.  Our children are the safest children in the history of childhood.  They won’t encountered saber-toothed tigers while playing, they don’t have to get their fingers chopped off working in factories, they have car seats and seat belts in our unleaded-gasoline-fueled cars, and most of the diseases that used to kill tens of thousands of kids each year are now rare.  So are we all breathing a sigh of relief and enjoying our incredibly safe surroundings?  No.  Now instead of worrying about real dangers, we worry about the theoretical dangers, like living near cell phone towers, diseases from the class gerbil, or eating nitrates.  And these worries never die–I just heard the theory that bras cause breast cancer as if it were a new story, and not one that was made up 15 years ago and long since debunked.

Worry is a normal response to a sometimes scary world, but we should all try to cut down on frivolous worries.  There’s a difference between me worrying that my toddler will slam his fingers in the cabinet door and a mother sitting by her sick child’s hospital bed.  There’s a difference between you worrying about your child drinking out of a plastic cup and a mother in a developing country wondering if her child will find clean water to drink.  I sometimes wonder if the fates are looking down at us, saying “You want something to worry about?  I’ll give you something to worry about!”

If you’re constantly worrying, you’re not enjoying parenting enough, and the one thing you should really be worrying about is how all that worry will affect your kids.  And your grandkids.  And don’t forget to add a little worry in for your great-grandkids, just to be on the (ahem) safe side.

Are you a worrier?  What are you afraid of?

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Entry filed under: parenting advice. Tags: , , .

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tanya  |  May 30, 2011 at 9:15 am

    This is a great post, and the message is one that I really needed to hear. I have been struggling with how to determine which worries are simply a reaction to the adjustment of new parenthood (8 weeks today!), and which worries are simply excessive anxieties that I have to let go of. I suspect that they are all mostly of the excess nature, and that when I truly need to worry, there will be No Question!

  • 2. Dave Higgs-Vis @ Folkabout Baby  |  May 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Well said!

    This quote sums it all up for me: “If you’re constantly worrying, you’re not enjoying parenting enough, and the one thing you should really be worrying about is how all that worry will affect your kids.”

    I think that those of us who are raising kids without worrying very much are going to produce children that are far more competent and capable.

    Who do you think stands a better chance at running a successful business: someone who has had irrational worrying ingrained in them from birth, or someone who has been taught to distinguish between true threats and constructed fears? It’s a pretty easy choice, at least from where I’m standing.

  • 5. RobynHeud  |  May 31, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Thanks so much for this post. I always want to know the reason why I’m supposed to be worrying, so I take all “advice” with a grain of salt. I let my 18 month old son play with sharp objects and climb on unstable objects. I do worry about him getting hurt, but I also know that the experiences will be good for him and I try not to let my worry show.


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