A few months after our son was born, the three of us were taking a walk when my husband confessed to me something about our journey into parenthood, “I wasn’t prepared for how fearful you’ve become.”
I don’t consider myself an anxious person. My friends say I’m “laid-back,” and I like that. But, with a wobbly and whimpering newborn in my arms, I found myself going down the well-worn path that most, if not all, women take: imagining worst-case scenarios, getting worked up about future unknowns, losing sleep over things I couldn’t control. I was ambushed by fear.
Concerns for our children are among many fears that waylay women. In her book Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves, Trillia Newbell also explores our fear of other women, fear of tragedy, fear of not measuring up, and fear of sexual intimacy, among others. The list is not short.
Why are we as women so susceptible to fear? Some of the answer lies in the way women are wired. By a combination of nature and nurture, women grow more attuned to the needs of others. New moms, for example, describe a physical reaction to their babies’ cries. Their heart rate goes up, their breath quickens, sometimes their milk lets down. Somewhere deep inside us, women’s bodies (and brains) sense our children’s needs. We are also often the ones in the church who bring casseroles to the sick, check up on the elderly, and sew mittens for the homeless—our sense of hospitality often motivated by worry for the people around us.
Of course, men also live in a world where they care for loved ones and face situations beyond their control. But women respond to fear differently than men, physiologically ...1
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