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Pass on Fears to Children?

Q. What is the likelihood that I will pass on my fears and phobia to my (yet to be born) children? I don't mean from them watching me, but I mean genetically - do they have a chance?

I seem to be scared of so many things, and I don't want them to be. I have started seeing a therapist to try and overcome my fears before I have children, but if it is genetic I don't want them to have to go through any of this.

And anyway, so far it does not seem that therapy works. I would appreciate any peace you can give me.

A. You have taken an important first step by addressing your fears.

If you haven't already, talk to your therapist about your sense that it is not working for you; he or she can explain what is realistic to expect. It is generally thought that cognitive-behavioral therapies are most helpful to combat anxiety and panic symptoms.

After learning some skills to reduce your anxiety, it may be that there are longer-term issues that promote anxiety that you will want to address. If this is not the way your therapist works, you may want to discuss with him or her a referral to a therapist who does.

Along with the therapy, there are some good self-help books available, including Edmund Bourne's The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook.



In answer to your question about genetic inheritance, data suggests that your children would have a greater chance of inheriting traits of a more sensitive or reactive personality to stress, but remember your husband's genes are contributing, too.

There is much you can do to help your children learn to deal with stress in healthy ways. Continuing some therapy and reading about anxiety will help guide you.




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Anne Cook Finnegan
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