Opinion: OK, Mom, Here's Your Moment of Truth; Quit Worrying
My son said his flight was fine. There was just some turbulence over Seattle.
"Merciful heavens!" his grandmother responded as if the Hindenburg had just exploded in the backyard. "Perverts in Seattle!"
My mother, God bless her, is a little hard of hearing. She also worries too much. So do a lot of parents and grandparents. And guess what? There's an app for that.
Have you seen the Verizon cell phone commercial where the mother is sending her daughter off to shop at the mall by herself for the first time? "OK, Mom," says the announcer. "Here's your moment of truth."
Her moment of truth?
She's sending the kid off to shop for clothes, not a suicide mission with the Dirty Dozen.
For crying out loud, the kid looks like she's 15 or 16 years old, and she's hanging out with more friends than I ever had in high school. Yet, Mom tracks the girl's every movement on her cell phone.
Creeeeepy. Is this 2010 or George Orwell's 1984?
I understand why parents worry so much. They're deranged. My mother labors under the delusion that my son is the most beautiful child in the known universe and therefore too tempting a morsel for any passing pedophile.
The child is almost 15, by the way. And despite being the spitting image of his father, he's not that beautiful. Even I get consistently passed over for People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive honors -- and I'm friggin' dreamy.
My father is a worrier too and, to be honest, so am I. A psychologist once told me it's practically inevitable. Some people are born with a genetic proclivity for anxiety. My parents and me, for example.
In my case, I got double dipped. I was genetically born to worry. Then I was raised by worriers.
I fight back with my intellect. So, when I once told my mother that my son had diarrhea -- and she said I should call 911 and get him to the emergency room -- I took a wait-and-see attitude.
Even if he [did] have cancer, it wasn't going to kill him in the next 24 hours. And I might save a few bucks.
What we perpetual worriers have to remember -- whether we're obsessing about the danger of our child riding the city bus or the world coming to an end in 2012 -- is that, yes, bad things can happen.
But there is a yawning chasm between what could happen and what will likely happen.
A giant meteor could strike the Earth and wipe us all out this afternoon. Could it happen? Yes. Is it likely to happen? Sorry, you still have brunch with your in-laws on Sunday.
For too many people, being a parent means living in a constant state of dread. That doesn't make you a good parent. Sometimes it makes you downright ridiculous.
Take Verizon. In another commercial from the company, a mother faces her "Moment of Truth" when she orders a pirate for her son's birthday and [OMG!] a cowboy shows up.
Sweet Fancy Moses! Nostradamus warned us something like this would happen during the End of Days.
Now, this could be a teachable moment where the kid learns life's a [bleep] at times. You expect a pirate. You get a cowboy. Deal with it.
Instead, mom frantically fingers her cell phone until she gets the pirate her little darling wanted.
Fretting over getting a cowboy instead of a pirate is not only a symptom of parental anxiety run amok, but a serious indication that we worry so much, we're running out of real things to worry about.
We need to get a grip -- and not on the latest piece of technology.
Related: Teens More Stressed Now Than During Great Depression
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.