The Terrors of Parenting

If you talk with parents whose child has gone through some trauma, been stricken by a serious illness, or been maimed in some accident, you will hear the refrain “We always worried so much about X, which didn’t happen, but were totally unprepared for Y, which did”.

This thought came to me as one of my sons said “I was digging in the dirt and I found a dead naked lady in the ground!”. Horrified, I ran to the site, and stared into the shallow grave at two cold, lifeless eyes.

Frankly, I suspect Ken — they’d been fighting a lot, I hear.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

5 thoughts on “The Terrors of Parenting”

  1. She’s not just some pretty lady, she’s

    (Whips off sunglasses)

    a real doll.


  2. Ah geez, here I was thinking I could relinquish the title of “most paranoid parent” to someone else. Years working in urban ER’s prior to the birth of my sons gave me a complex, until my grandmother, who on meeting her great grand son, after I told her to wash her hands first, told me “Don’t forget that for your children to learn to love life, that they have to live it, not look at it.”

  3. Makes me think of “Prehistoric Barbie”:

    Paleoanthropology Division
    Smithsonian Institute
    207 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Washington, DC 20078

    Dear Sir:

    Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled “211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.” We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents “conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.” Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the “Malibu Barbie”.

    And so on…

  4. Oh dear. This has me worried – when I was young I used to bury my baby dolls in the backyard. Simply because I didn’t like them, I only liked Barbies, but now I’m wondering what happens to some poor kid who digs up a 45 year old plastic corpse. I guess they can sue me for the cost of their therapy in a few years.

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