Facing Fears: Are my Kids Inheriting my Worst Qualities?


From a shy mom whose daughter is inheriting the same trait comes a message we all need to hear.


As parents, we are blessed with the care of a completely unique, brand-new individual. We have no control over who they’ll grow into. We cognitively realize that they should never be raised as someone meant to fulfill our own unrealized dreams. We all know too many adults or kids who have been put into that position by even well-meaning parents. We may have concerns that we’ll put our hopes and dreams on our kids in a way that is harmful to their self-development.

shy little girl hides her face

I’m finding myself, with my 3-year-old, already struggling with these concerns. A bit of background on me: I was a very shy child and, as a child and adult, allowed my shyness and my general fear of the world to prohibit me from a lot of positive experiences. I stayed on little kid roller coasters until I was, let’s just say, way too old. I was so nervous to go on an elementary school ski trip to Hidden Valley that I am convinced my brain actually manifested a week-long illness. When I wanted to call a friend for a play date, I stared at my phone like it was a live snake. 

When I look at my daughter, I want her to have a rich and fulfilling life. I want her to feel free to enjoy her life with reckless abandon. I want her to be brave.

Yet, she’s extremely shy. She barely talks to people outside of our immediate family, including friends and teachers at school whom I know she adores. She has recently developed what I can only describe as a terror of flies. When your only available activity is hanging out outside, having a kid terrified of flies is a real bummer.

I find myself disappointed to see that she is exhibiting some of the qualities I have that haven’t served me well.

And then, I have to check myself. It’s not up to me to control her personality, dictate her life, or prevent her from making some of the decisions I made. I still want her to lead a rich and fulfilling life, but one that is rich and fulfilling by her standards, not mine. Just because I feel I missed out on experiences, doesn’t mean that she will feel the same way if she continues down her current, timid path.


Shy little girl playing on a tree swing outdoors

Do I still want her to be brave? Yes. Some of my greatest life experiences came from taking a leap of faith. Some of my worst life experiences also came from leaps of faith, but those became my life’s greatest lessons. I’ll do everything I can to encourage her to confront her fears and live life to the full while accepting and validating her no matter how she approaches life. And, who knows. Perhaps she’ll quickly outgrow this stage and jump right into motorcycle riding, and I will miss these quiet days!

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A native St. Louisan, Diana lives in Creve Coeur with her husband, young son and daughter, and two dogs. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, which she uses as an excuse to be nosy regarding other people’s lives. She recently left a career in legal marketing to work part-time from home and focus on her babies (furry and otherwise). Her current parenting mantras are: “I can do it all, just not all at once,” and “It will probably be fine?” Diana gets her kicks by going for long runs, reading a mix of high-brow and low-brow literature, and seeking out activities her whole family (including the puppies!) can enjoy around town.