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ubersiren's avatar

Has having children made you a wimp, or is it just me?

Asked by ubersiren (15044 points ) January 29th, 2010

I feel different than I used to before I was a parent. Several things are very noticeable to me. First, I can’t handle horror movies anymore. It’s like I want to watch them, but I end up with my eyes closed most of the time. I don’t like the gore, shock factor, and violence. I used to love these flicks! Even films that are depressing or dark affect me deeply.

I also don’t enjoy rollercoasters anymore, and I used to love the biggest, scariest ones. They make me sick now, and I just don’t find them fun.

I worry more when I’m in a car (even when the kid isn’t in there with me), especially if I’m not in control of the wheel.

The stuff I’m worried about isn’t usually directly related to my child’s safety. It’s more like I don’t want to acknowledge or deal with the ugly of the world. Has anyone else experienced this with the birth of their children? Is it just growing up?

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23 Answers

Supacase's avatar

I felt very similar after having my daughter. My biggest anxiety-inducer was riding in the car (especially on the interstate) even if I was driving. I would have panic attacks.

No horror movies, no movies, books or news stories about the awful things that happen to children. It may not have been about my child directly, but I was horrified by the thoughts of what children really do go through in this world. Having a child of my own made it more real, more tragic. I could now put myself in the place of the parents and feel the enormity of their grief.

In other ways, though, and overall, it has made me much stronger. I am someone’s mom. I teach her, guide her, protect her and love her. It is the greatest responsibility I have ever had and I have stepped up. I now know that I can do this. I was once terrified of having kids.

Snarp's avatar

Well, I’ve never liked horror movies, and roller coasters actually became physically painful to me as I got older and before I had children, so those two don’t apply. I wouldn’t say I’ve become a wimp, but I think I am a bit more circumspect in my actions, and reasonably so since there is now a little person who relies on me. Beyond that, I have become much more emotional, I was never a big crier, but now every tear jerker scene in a movie gets me choked up.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Taking the responsibility for the well-being of another person seriously makes you filter the world differently. You are responsible for making your children feel safe; they have to be able to trust you. That’s what good parents do.

It’s not so much being a wimp, as it is cultivating discernment. When you have to teach that violence is not entertainment. Scaring people is not nice. Kids are watching you constantly, and will absorb the behaviors you model.

There are things with parenting that you sometimes have to teach or model behaviors in a black and white stance, that you personally live more in a gray area between. This is because children need to have boundaries to push against. An example would be underage drinking. I drank beer in high school, my 20 year old drinks with her friends. Should I buy beer for them, or provide it for them? Absolutely not. Underage drinking is wrong. Are they welcome to take a beer out of the refrigerator after they turn 21? Absolutely.

Cruiser's avatar

I think what you are experiencing is just part of growing up and getting older, more experienced and hopefully wiser. Yes being a parent dumps a whole slew of responsibilities that naturally would force you to change your behavior and thinking about the crazy scary things in life. It’s natural to become protective of not only your children but your own self so you preserve your ability to be there for them.

I laughed because I am exactly the same way now about all the things you listed. If that’s wimpy….I am OK with that as I have been there and done all those crazier things enough times to last me the rest of my life.

mattbrowne's avatar

In the early stages on occasions it made me go ballistic. But I prefer to remember the wonderful part.

Blackberry's avatar

You can’t be a ‘badass’ and be a parent, you’re surrounded by different things, making you a different person. The badasses usually end up being bad parents, which reflects on their kids.

MissAusten's avatar

I don’t know what this says about me as a parent, but I would still do all the of the same things I did before I had kids. Almost. I certainly don’t drink as much, because even if I’m not driving, I still have to come home and be a parent. It’s no fun to wake up early with a hangover and three kids jumping all over you. I take fewer risks when driving, even when my kids aren’t in the car with me. I’d love to go on a roller coaster again and wouldn’t turn down the chance. I’ve never liked horror movies, and never been one to cry over movies or TV shows. I will get a little teary-eyed if the movie involves a kid. I cried more during the last half hour of The Time Traveler’s Wife than I have in the past five years total.

Maybe I was a wimp to start with, and that’s why I don’t feel wimpier now. ;) However, I’ve been known to almost kill myself sledding. I keep nagging my husband about going up in a hot air balloon, and I don’t hesitate to climb as high as I can on the rock cliffs around here when we go hiking. Later this year I’m going on a zip-line course with my brother-in-law and mother-in-law. The zip lines are 50 feet up in the air, and I can’t wait!

As for stories about bad things that happen to kids, I have to read those. My husband can’t read them or talk about them, and he refuses to watch Law and Order SVU because it usually involves children. It often makes me sick, but I have to read/watch anyway. If I don’t know every single possible horrible thing that could happen, how will I know to worry about it?!

casheroo's avatar

I have a huge horror movie collection, and for some reason cannot stand to watch horror anymore. I don’t know why!
Ad the roller coaster thing happened to me as well. I love roller coasters, but just going on the swings makes me nauseated nowadays. I don’t understand at all.
I don’t think I’m now a wimp, but things have definitely changed.

nicobanks's avatar

I think that makes a lot of sense. Suddenly you’re responsible for others—whether they’re with you or not, that alone would make you look at the world (and experience it) differently.

I don’t have kids but I know of a similar situation: when my mother-in-law had kids she could no longer smoke pot, it made her too anxious.

On the other hand, I too can no longer ride roller-coasters. I used to love them, but now they make me sick.

susanc's avatar

I didn’t have babies, but as soon as I began living with my SO’s kids, I became much more conservative, because I didn’t want them to live in chaos. Chaos is fine when you’re an adult, not so fine when your mothers have given up and left town and you find yourself living with some woman your father just started sleeping with.

liminal's avatar

Becoming a parent certainly made me become more aware of danger and I stopped taking certain risks. I became aware of the importance of self-care and not putting off such things. Yet, in some ways it has stirred me into being more fierce. Previous to my kids, when I encountered people’s assumptions, stereotypes, and prejudices I often ignored them and moved on. Now if a person comes at my kid with those sorts of things I confront. I like to think I am graceful about it, but I won’t tolerate someone telling my son “boys don’t wear pink”, my daughter “girls aren’t supposed to be assertive”, or other such nonsense that dictates how to be instead of just letting them be. You probably don’t even want to get me started on how I respond to perceiving their imminent danger.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I was always a caring person and gave a hoot about the suffering of others but, after having my children, I can no longer handle seeing kids in pain of any sort without bursting into tears. I can no longer watch shows or movies that have kids suffering in them because I relate the details in my head onto my child and then my mood is ruined. Other than that the only change is that I hold myself, as a person, to a much higher standard now because of what I teach to my kids and I have to claim responsibility for why certain things are the way they are. If I don’t want them to hit others, I will never hit them. If I don’t want them to pretend-shoot at people, I will not do that other (whereas before that kind of thing would be not so important). If I want them to be healthier and eat no meat, I will no longer eat meat and take care of myself. They are my reflection, the best most honest mirror in this world.

GingerMinx's avatar

No, it had the opposite effect, I became a lot tougher and was much more inclined to say no to people and to stand up for myself and my child. I was a stronger person because I now had someone who depended on me to protect them.

chocomonkey's avatar

Both directions – more wimpy and stronger simultaneously – for me.

Got nauseated on a rollercoaster in my 20’s (before I had kids )- what a shocker that was! – but I still go anyway! Can’t row in the Head of the Charles at the moment, but hope to again someday. Cry at the news, at talk shows, at movies, at TV, at Books now at the drop of a hat – this may not make me stronger, but (perhaps selfservingly) I do think it makes me better…

As @GingerMinx said, more likely to say no to people, or stick up for my kids.

Also higher expectations for myself. More grown up about setting and achieving goals. And yet more empathy for myself too, I’m kinder to me now that I’ve ever been – it’s clearer to me now that I was someone’s child once too, and I should treat myself with that kind of care.

ubersiren's avatar

Come to think of it, I have become more ballsy in regards to speaking my mind as @GingerMinx and @chocomonkey have mentioned. I guess it’s been both ways for me, too.

mollypop51797's avatar

When you have kids, your personality changes and you are more aware of protection over your kids etc. It’s happened to me, as I can easily relate to this, and personally, I think it’s just your motherly instincts kicking in.

Jeruba's avatar

Oh, darling. I don’t think it has anything to do with parenthood. I think it’s just age. Parenthood can make you suddenly aware of it, that’s all. Think of it as gaining some chronological height. You can see farther from where you stand, and things you used to view lightly and thoughtlessly look different to you now. It’s called perspective.

YARNLADY's avatar

Wimp – no. More empathy and compassion – yes.

augustlan's avatar

While I still love horror (books, movies, you name it), I certainly don’t take the risks I used to. Part of it is age, but part of it (for me) is definitely motherhood. I am much more aware of my own mortality since I became a mother, and what it would mean to my children if my life were cut short. And yet, I still smoke… go figure. :(

Also, my nightmares changed drastically. Most every bad dream I have had since childbirth has been about something happening to one of my children. I react to these much more strongly than I ever did when I was the one in peril!

I find that I am much more over-protective than I thought I’d be, and my kids haven’t had half the dangerous fun I did while I was growing up.

As others have said, there’s a flipside. I am a fucking lion when it comes to standing up for my kids.

Val123's avatar

Having kids changes your views on everything.

Hibernate's avatar

Made you more careful.

I love the “car part – when you worry if you are not the driver ” Wish all would feel that so we won’t have so much accidents.

john65pennington's avatar

You need to take the bull by horns and toughen up. You are not the only person that has children and we have all lived through it. Flip the pages over in your Book of Life and go to the part that says “I am the leader of my family and nothing is going to interfere my leading my children in the right direction”.

Being a wimpy parent is why children take control. They are the parent and you are the child.

Never let this happen.

MissAusten's avatar

@john65pennington Hmmmm….I think you misunderstood the question. This is about worrying and being afraid of what could happen to your loved ones, not about letting kids run all over you because you can’t stand up to them.

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