Is there a Word for Phobia of Children?

Good gravy, yesterday was tough.

My brain is still numb, my shoulders still clenched in an upright and locked position. I just now realized I forgot to call my sister back last night. (Sorry Em!) And I do believe I didn't go to the bathroom yesterday until I was getting ready for bed. (I developed a bladder with camel-like properties when I was working in the newsroom. Because if there's breaking news and you're in the control booth calling the shots, potty breaks are not an option.) (Too much information, perhaps? I can't tell anymore.)

But as grueling as my day was, it was worse for my good friend Mindy.

While I was sleeping in Saturday morning, trying to recover from a week of camp that was crowned by BBQ and fireworks as soon as we unpacked the car, Mindy was driving across Wisconsin, with the plan to spend a week visiting friends and family in Minnesota.

Then, life turned. Her tires snagged on an uneven shoulder. She over-corrected. Her car rolled like a tumbleweed, eventually coming to rest in the highway median as a tangle of shattered steel and glass.

Miraculously, neither she nor her kids sustained life-threatening injuries. Her two-year-old walked away without a scratch. Her six-year-old only had scratches and abrasions from her seat belt and flying glass.

Mindy escaped without any broken bones or internal injuries. But it took about 60 stitches to close the gashes in her face and arm, and she's sporting more bruises than a peach shipped from Georgia to Wyoming by USPS.

Her sweet husband, who wasn't accompanying his family on this trip, rushed to the scene. I first heard about the accident from him. Rightly horrified, I offered to help any way I could.

Thus, I found myself parenting five children yesterday.

Let the chaos begin.

First, I want to say that Mindy's kids are absolute delights. They are sweet, creative and compliant. Her six-year-old and my six-year-old would be best friends if they lived closer. And her two-year-old boy is like a towheaded package of love; he's just a snuggle-monster with a smile to melt your heart.

But having them here yesterday reminded me -- with startling clarity -- that I would be the worst child-care provider in the history of mankind. When
I'm responsible for other people's children, I'm a nervous wreck. I'm jumpy. I can't focus. I feel completely out of my comfort zone. I find myself stalking the clock, willing it to move faster so I can discharge my charges.

It's the reason I never babysat, why I'd rather clean the church bathrooms with a toothbrush than work in children's ministry and why I adore my sister. (I would say worship, because it's close to that. But it seems sacrilegious, somehow.) Emily is like a Pied Piper of children. Ever since she was in middle school, kids have followed her around the church hallways, vying for her attention. Cries of "Emmy! Emmy" echo off the walls. When I was 15 and she was 9, I passed off all (read: two) of my babysitting jobs to her. And I think the parents involved in those situations were more than grateful. Today, Emily works in the children's ministry department at our dad's church, a job which perfectly fits her skill set and passion.

And then there's me -- the woman who has to fight the urge to hide in the laundry room while other kids play like angels with her own kids in her own home.


I've felt guilty about this for years, and the guilt only intensified when I had my own kids and was amazed to find that I actually enjoyed them and my new role as mother. Shouldn't I be able to deal with all kids now that I understand, on some level, what a gift they are?

But I've come to realize, we all have different gifts. Children aren't mine. I can certainly step up when I need to -- and watching Mindy's kids yesterday was a blessing to me, because it's what I could do to help her in a teeny-tiny way. I also signed up to work at VBS this year, which terrified me from the day I signed up until the day it was over. And I survived. Since I wasn't the primary teacher for our class, I even enjoyed myself in the middle of the week, for a few minutes.

So I try not to guilt myself. But some days, I just can't fight the angst. Am I the only freak out here who is kid-a-phobic?


  1. Nope!

    Reading this, I thought I was reading my sister in law's blog... she gets completely FRIED when around other kids, but is perfectly fine around her own.

    She has one girl. I have three boys. Imagine that situation! HA!!

  2. First off, if we're not long-lost-sisters our bladders are. (I'm sure this was just the kind of comment you thought you'd get from this post.) It's one of the first qualities that Gary was attracted to because I only had to stop to "go" a couple times from here to California when we road-tripped out to meet his folks. I'm not sure it's the inner beauty I was striving for, but it worked.


    I actually feel relief when other kids are here because they entertain mine and vice versa. I am a little on edge though, wondering if they'll report back about my less-than-clean house or the food they ate or... but I do admit, being a mom is WAY more fun than babysitting ever was!

  3. That was so completely unnecessary for me to hijack your comments to talk about my bladder.

    Sorry 'bout that.

  4. NO! You are not alone in this! I agree to babysit and then wonder what on earth I was thinking. I already know that I'm going to spend the whole evening willing the time away. *misery* I'm not married; hence, I don't have kids of my own and am not yet reassured as to whether I will ever enjoy any children. : /

  5. I like kids, it's babies that freak me out.
    Never used to be that way but both of my boys were colicky. Ten months of colic (combined)has ensured that when I har a baby cry I still tear up. Nearly two years later. I don't even like to hold the things now.
    And on a side note, didn't you used to be a teacher? (or am I mixing you up with someone.) Bet you didn't mention this at the job interview:)

  6. I like having kids over that are my kids' ages. I get nervous with babies... that's a job where I'm always counting down the minutes until mom gets back.

    So, hey... I've been meaning to ask you if you'd watch my kids next week while I get a massage... can you?

    ;o) I crack myself up.

  7. I'm with you. People keep trying to get me to lead groups (homeschooling clubs, co-ops, etc); and I'd rather die. I cannot stand groups of kids.

  8. I had one baby sitting job in high school and I made sure it was my last. I sent them a letter the day after and told them I couldn't handle the responsibility of watching their children. And they were adorable little girls! Since having kids (and being forced to help at hundreds of kids activities at church) I am fine watching others kids as long as they aren't under one year. The cries of newborns still make the hair stand up on my neck and my youngest is almost 3.

  9. I had one baby sitting job in high school and I made sure it was my last. I sent them a letter the day after and told them I couldn't handle the responsibility of watching their children. And they were adorable little girls! Since having kids (and being forced to help at hundreds of kids activities at church) I am fine watching others kids as long as they aren't under one year. The cries of newborns still make the hair stand up on my neck and my youngest is almost 3.

  10. I am watching our friends' child who is 9 months old part time - so I have her 3 (10 hour) days one week and 2 days the next and so on. She plays wonderfully with my (almost 18 mo.) daughter.

    But I found that I don't enjoy watching other people's children. I don't mind for a few hours, but not 10 hours a day. So I am "quitting" that job and my friend is going to stay at home with her daughter. We both win with that one!

    Oh, and I did babysit quite a bit when I was younger. I do much better when it's a short time period. And for the record, I do enjoy staying at home with my daughter. Most of the time.

  11. This was a great post. Ironically, it is my sister's thing too, but she has no kiddos. It isn't so much my thing, but I've got three kiddos of my own. Go figure. Of course, having your own is completely different than having a classroom full of 'em.

    Glad that your friend is okay.

  12. I'm with you. I love my own kids, but I cringe at the thought of watching those of others. Children's ministry is NOT for me!

  13. Hi Kelly -

    Its Laura from Family Camp. I can't help but check your blog - you are gifted with the amazing capability to write in such a way in which the reader feels everything right along with you. Your blog struck a chord with me today. First off - Praise God for keeping your close friend and children safe. It happened so quickly. What a terrible call to get - but again, so glad that they are okay.

    The babysitting thing - ah yes! I HATED babysitting with a capital H-A-T-E-D! I too would watch the clock tick slowly - time always moved tortoise slow at those jobs. Nannying always sounded so fun to me...but then I conked myself on the head and reminded myself that the 4 hour gigs were bad enough...however, I was a PE/Health teacher until Peyton was born and that was my passion without a doubt. Now with Peyton - the days go by fast are not alone!

  14. Oh, other people's kids. I don't care how good they are - having to watch children I did not give birth to drives me OUT OF MY MIND. Which makes you even better of a friend to offer, and thank GOD that your friend and her children are okay.

  15. Holy Cow.

    Kelly - if I weren't already convinced we were separated at birth then this post confirmed it. You'd think a girl with FOUR KIDS would be thrilled to spend the day with a room full of them - NOT.

    I personally do better with older kids that can clean their own poop and microwave their own snacks. If I can raise all of mine to accomplish those two things I'll consider my parenting a success. :) (Oh yeah, I'm hoping they'll all love Jesus, too.)

  16. I always wondered if I would be able to love my children because I was never really "into" kids. Thankfully, of course, I adore my daughters, but I still am not a fan of being in charge of other peoples kids.

    The flip side is that now when other kids are here they all occupy themselves happily for hours. Pretty good deal:-)

  17. I like kids. I just don't always feel real capable and confident around them once they're over the age of 5.

    And the bladder thing? A friend once told me "When God said bladder you thought He said ladder and got in the tall line instead." I know where every bathroom is at every place I've ever stepped foot inside.

  18. No, you're not!!! I have two kids of my own who are so precious to me, but don't ask me to watch your kids unless you REALLY need me to. It's not something I enjoy. I never liked babysitting. And of all the stupidest things in life I've done, I got a teaching degree. Are you kidding me? After student teaching, I never want to teach again. THEY DRIVE ME CRAZY! I'd much rather sit in the teacher's lounge and visit with adults. O'well! I'm thankful my husband's got a good job so I can stay at home. I'm blessed. And I guess if I have to go to work one day, I'll get my real estate license. But please don't bring your kids with you when I show you a house! Ha! :)

    So glad that you friends are okay. Praise God!

  19. No. You're not. I feel the same. I have guilt about it. I am like the only person that doesn't get excited to see a friend's new baby.

    And give me the toothbrush any day over the nursery.

  20. Oh I don't like other people's kids, except when I can watch them and be amused and not have to interact with them at all. I have mentioned this several times on my blog.

    And, I had such a happy thought about a year ago when the twins turned 10. I thought, "The end of childcare is in sight." You see, I've had to take my turn in nursery and childcare for years now, but the twins are old enough to actually DO childcare now, and no one will ask me anymore :)

    I can do childcare, but I don't enjoy it. I don't totally freak, but I really dread it, and am usually in a bad mood afterwards.

  21. Pediaphobia...or at least that's my translation! :)

  22. Nope!
    I'm sitting here shaking my head in agreement with parts while I'm reading.
    I can handle my own just fine but someone else's?
    I've tried it twice as a 'paying gig' it didn't last long or turn out well.
    Like you I will pitch in in a bind but I'd rather not.
    I don't want to work the children's ministry at church either and they keep approaching me. And then I feel guilty for saying no.

  23. I'm a kid-o-phobic and i'm married to a children's pastor...go figure.

  24. Oh it is good to be among friends.

    I enjoy other people's kids as long as their parents are there and they are responsible for them. Like you, my shoulders are attached to my ears the entire time that I'm "watching" my friend's kids.

    I'm so grateful that Mindy and her children survived that accident. I was out of town, so I didn't get the message until later. I was thinking about her all morning on Saturday and now I know why.

  25. Wow!! all I can come up with right now.

  26. First, I would like to say Happy Six-Month Birthday to Teyla :)

    Second, I'll tell my babysitting story from last night. We got a babysitter for the first time for our 8 month old. It's been 8 months and the only people that have watched Jordan are the grandparents (very rarely, because none live anywhere near us) and the neighbor once for a couple of hours. I thought I was being hyper-vigilant in finding our first babysitter in 8 months which came highly recommended by my good friend from church that I "lunch" with on occasion, and who sits in the prayer tent at church for people who need a prayer partner, so I consider her a very good reference. She referred me to a college student, who she knows and likes, who works in the church nursery and also babysits.

    This is all sounding very perfect. Well, we had a great night at the Switchfoot concert and I even got my picture taken with the lead singer Jon Foreman. But, when we came home, Jordan had obviously been crying for a long time and all he had on was a diaper, and the diaper was on very loosely and backwards. That's when she decided to tell me her age range that she usually babysits are around 6, 7 or 8. Jordan ran a fever all last night and only slept for 3 hours. That's the closest he's ever been to a cold. His fever is gone today, and he's smiling again. But, I've been in a fog all day, and that will be the last time I use a babysitter for a while.

  27. I can never remember the names of anyones children, but I can tell you everything about their dogs.

  28. Oh honey! Me too! I just want to curl into the fetal position when I'm responsible for someone else's child, unless I know the child VERY VERY WELL and we have a well-established relationship. Usually I need to have know the child since he/she was a baby, really, or I just can't do it. I wonder why that is? But in any case, I've got the phobia, too. Maybe that means we're just UBERresponsible and concerned? I hope so.

  29. I'm okay with kids, but not great. I have so much respect for teachers and people who can deal with kids all day and remain pleasant. I think God knew what he was doing when he just gave me one.

  30. I so know what you are talking about! I love my boys, but I find it harder to deal with someone else's children, even if they are family!

  31. for the record (this is mindy) My kids love-love-LOVED their time with your kids, and I loved the concentrated sleeping-- Which is saying something when at night one kid is wapping the stitched up face and one is wapping the stitched up arm! :o)
    I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help and availability to me and my family. And I KNOW Jayson appreciates it, too!!! :o)

  32. I know exactly how you feel! I love kids but when it comes to being in charge of them I am counting the minutes till I am no longer in charge. And of course the fact that I have so many children gives people the idea that I must want to volunteer in the children's dept. I have had to learn how to graciously say "NO".

  33. No, I am grownupaphobic.

    Hey I am super duper impressed by your bladder. Mine used to be made of steel but pregnancies ruined that. I still HATE that I have to use public restrooms now. Blech.

  34. For me, it's always been one of life's greatest ironies that God would give me four children when I'm as you described: child phobic. In other words, not so good with kids...

    And the bladder deal? I can hold it FOREVER much to my husband's amazement!

  35. Not at all ... I, too, have a difficult time with other people's children. Especially little 'uns. When I was still working in the outside world (as opposed to home), and a mom on maternity leave would come up to the office with her new little bundle of joy, all the other secretaries would rush over to see the baby. I would stand from a distance, "Oh, what a cutie!" and then rush off to the copy room on some "urgent" bit of business that couldn't wait.

    Of course, my girl is the apple of my eye, and I am getting somewhat misty-eyed knowing that at 12, she won't be with me much longer ... but leaving home to start her own little family much sooner than I can fathom. Time flies so much faster than I ever realized it would. Sigh.

  36. Nope. I adore my own kids, and there are some other kids that I like or even love. But in a general sense, I'm not one who "loves kids".

  37. I had my sister's baby all weekend and though it was fun it completely cured me of any questions about whether we were finished having kids. We're done.

  38. WOW... could I steal this post?? because I totally have a fear of children. and God thought it humorous to give me FOUR of them in less than five years!! and while I love them to pieces (most of the time), I have NO DESIRE to add anyone else's kids to the mix for any length of time.

  39. I am also a kid-phobic mommy! I can certainly relate. I love my kids - but I would be perfectly happy if we spend a little less time together. I think that temperament has a lot to do with it, so I try not to feel guilty or "less than" about it. But yeah, it's a tough one!