The Definitive Dictionary of Parenting Phobias

by Anjali Enjeti
Originally Published: 
An aerial view of four kids walking down a street with their visible shadows

Let’s face it: parenting is a scary business. Some of its side effects include anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches, ulcers, nausea and even adult acne. We’re scared our kids will grow up to be unemployed when they flunk a subject in high school. We bite our nails to the quick when they miss curfew by an hour and haven’t responded to our frantic texts. We worry about the kinds of friends they hang out with, who they date, where they’re going and where they’ve been.

But some parenting fears are a little more … ambiguous. They’re harder to describe to friends who don’t have children, and the events that inspire these fears aren’t newsworthy enough to make the 24-hour news cycle. Still, these “parenting phobias” are legit and should be taken seriously.

Here are a few of the most common.

Daisy Duke-phobia: The fear that your teenage daughter will be sent home from school in violation of the middle school dress code, despite the fact that her shorts are an inch longer than the school-issued gym shorts she wears every afternoon during her Phys Ed class.

“Free Range” phobia: The fear that allowing your third grader to walk two blocks by herself to her elementary school will spur frantic phone calls from your neighbors and the principal, followed by a “drop-in” from social services.

Folderphobia: The fear of opening up your child’s backpack and finding dozens of school papers, which inform you about what you’ve forgotten to do (send in plastic spoons for a class party), what your child is in trouble for (slugging another child at recess), and how much money you still owe (for the basketball team uniform, the class field trip, or Teacher Appreciation Day).

Nitphobia: 1. The fear of getting a phone call from the school nurse to let you know that all three of your children have lice. 2. The fear of spending every waking hour over the next three weeks vacuuming carpets, changing sheets, and extracting nits from irritable children’s scalps.*

* This fear is most intense during the elementary school years.

Pajamaphobia: 1. The fear of getting no sleep during your children’s slumber parties. 2. The fear of cleaning up vomit in sleeping bags. 3. The fear of finding popcorn kernels and remnants of stale green frosting in your home up to six months afterward.

Patchaphobia: The fear of having to hawk Girl Scout cookies to your co-workers, your neighbors and strangers exiting grocery stores, just so your daughter can receive a coveted patch (or two) for her vest.

Pediatriphobia: The fear that taking your very healthy, active son to his annual pediatric check-up will expose him to every germ, disease and bacteria lingering on the surfaces of the exam table, so that in two days you’ll have to return with your feverish, diarrhea-ing child for a sick visit.

Projectaphobia: 1. The fear of science fair projects, dioramas and insect collections. 2. The fear that your son will sneeze so hard, the orange glitter he’s attempting to glue onto a poster will spray all over your silk blouse, the pasta you were in the middle of eating, and in the tiny crevices of your MacBook Air’s keyboard.

Technophobia: The fear that when your children go off to summer camp you won’t know how to turn on the television, search for movies on Netflix and/or purchase music on iTunes.

Textophobia: The fear that you’ve accidentally sent a very private text message meant for your partner to your teenage son, confirming the fact that you do, in fact, shop at the adult store down the road.

Vehiculaphobia: 1. The fear of your child getting behind the wheel for the first time to, you know, actually drive the car. 2. The fear of watching your child parallel park for the first time. 3. The fear that the sharp gasps you make from the passenger seat every time she changes lanes will ultimately cause her to get into a car accident.

This article was originally published on