Many people suffer from intrusive thoughts. For instance, if someone is walking over a bridge, it isn’t uncommon to think, “what if I just jumped off?”. Intrusive thoughts can be scary because they often make you worry that you’re going to do something that you don’t actually want to do. One type of intrusive thought that can be particularly scary is harming your child.
Chances are that hurting your child is the last thing you would ever want to do, which makes these thoughts particularly upsetting. However, if these really are just intrusive thoughts, then there’s no real risk; they’re just unwanted, distressing thoughts.
Occasional intrusive thoughts about harming your child are completely normal. In fact, nearly one half of recent mothers have intrusive thoughts about hurting their child at some point. For some, this might just happen once or twice, meaning it really doesn’t interfere with their life or cause too much distress. After having a child, parents feel a huge responsibility to keep their child safe. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, this can actually manifest itself as an intense fear of hurting your child. This means that in most cases, these intrusive thoughts are just a sign that you really care about your child.
Because a child’s safety is involved, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. If you have even the slightest concern that you might harm your child, it’s absolutely essential that you seek help. A professional can make sure that there is no real harm to your child, which will also help put your mind at ease.
There are cases where intrusive thoughts can have a hidden truth behind them, which is why it’s always best to reach out for support if you’re concerned. These cases usually occur if the parent abuses alcohol or drugs, is severely sleep-deprived, or has difficulty controlling their impulses.
To reiterate, occasional intrusive thoughts about hurting your child isn’t a cause for concern. It’s completely normal and usually just means you care about your child’s safety. However, if there is even a tiny bit of doubt that you might actually hurt your child, you have to ask for help. Chances are that a professional will tell you that there is no real risk. They can then work with you to minimize these thoughts and the distress they may be causing you. Either way, asking someone for help will benefit both you and your child, even if there is no real harm.