From my Atlantic advice column:
Ever since our first child was born, I have slept very poorly. When I close my eyes, my mind becomes crowded with worries. I worry about my kids' safety, their future, college education, happiness, just about anything you could think of. Is there anything I can do to put my mind at ease?
N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
Alas, no. You are suffering from an incurable disease called parenthood. The birth of a child is the most transcendent moment in a person's life. It also marks the beginning of what I call "The Great Terror," in the words of the historian Robert Conquest. (Conquest was referring to Stalin's ferocious purges of the early 20th century, which were also terrifying, but not significantly more terrifying than hearing your children say they are off to play a game called "trampoline pumpkin-carving.") To put your mind at ease, I suggest removing from your home all knives, turpentine, No. 2 pencils, bathtubs, medicine, electrical outlets, chairs, peanut butter, and stairs. You should also try to remember that many of the hazards facing our children are overblown: the Crimes Against Children Research Center, for instance, notes that rates of sexual assault, bullying, and other violence against children have declined substantially in recent years, despite media suggestions to the contrary. But statistics be damned; fear is fear. Only death frees you of worry entirely, and the onset of death brings its own anxieties. However, one advantage of death is that your children will no longer torment you with incessant demands for iPads and Ke$ha downloads.
I'm pleased to announce that this bit of advice has been endorsed by someone who actually knows something about the subject, Lenore Skenazy at Free-Range Kids.