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My 5-Year-Old Just Totally Redefined What Fear And Courage Mean To Me

Flickr / Kei Noguchi

The following was syndicated from Medium for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at

As a parent one of the major challenges I have is remembering to slow down when it comes to my children. I’m not a perfect parent, but I appreciate my children and all they offer, good or bad. Today I was having a conversation with my 5-year-old, telling him it was time to take the training wheels off of his bike so he can ride it like a “big kid.”

He protested, telling me he was scared of trying 2 wheels because he might get hurt. I try to break important lessons down into little chunks for the kids because life is all about learning in my eyes, no matter our age. I’m sure for him, going from a bike with training wheels to a 2-wheeled, self propelled machine that can tip over at a moments notice is scary and I did what any self respecting parent would do, I told him to “suck it up!”

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I immediately sat down with him on our hot driveway and we shared a laugh about “sucking it up.” I explained that it’s totally normal to be scared of new things. I went on to tell him that all through life you’ll be asked to or need to tackle something new and unfamiliar to you but it is how we grow as people and have full lives. You cannot be scared of change or risk because fear is one of our most powerful emotions. If you let fear control you, change becomes impossible.

Right there, in that moment my 5-year-old son Dax looked up at me, in my eyes in a very fixed stare. This caught me off guard, because he’s not the type to make prolonged eye contact and he said to me, “Dad you can’t change the world if you’re scared.” I was so caught off guard by this moment I really didn’t know how to react. I told him on the spot he was exactly right and he needs to never, ever forget those words.

It really got me thinking though, we as adults overcomplicate everything around us. Life in general isn’t really difficult and when the curveballs do come in the form of change our natural reaction in some (maybe most) occasions is one of anxiety or fear. This emotion is natural, it’s an instinctual mechanism to prevent us from being hurt.

If you let fear control you, change becomes impossible.

Change is a natural progression in life both professional and personal and embracing it is important. Sure, we can’t all change the world but if we let fear control us we’ll never even have a chance to change it. We need to stop letting fear and anxiety dictate what we do and start embracing everything around us head on. Life is going to hurt, but it’s all part of our journey. Once we learn to live it without fear, embracing everything around us life becomes infinitely more valuable.

Thanks for the insight Son, maybe some day you’ll read this and know that at 5 years old, you changed my world.

Ryan McAdams is a father and tech geek who is involved in Datacenters and Cloud Computing with occasional writings about Politics and Social Media.