What Home Alone taught me about fear

I watched Home Alone the other night…for probably the six-hundredth time. Can you believe it turned 25 years old this year!?

What Home Alone taught me about fear

There are so many memorable quotes from that movie, but my favorite is one that I rarely hear folks talk about.

It happened in the church just before 9:00pm the night Harry and Marv were due to hit the McCallister’s home. Kevin was listening to the choir and talking to Old Man Marley, his kind but severely misunderstood neighbor.

Marley was explaining to Kevin how he hadn’t spoken to his son in years. He wanted desperately to repair that relationship and to spend time with his granddaughter.

What Home Alone taught me about fear

“If you miss him, why don’t you call him?”

Marley admitted that he wanted to…but he was afraid his son wouldn’t speak to him.

“No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid,” Kevin asked.

And cue my favorite quote…

“You can be a little old for a lot of things,” Marley said, “you’re never too old to be afraid.”

Truth. I mean, I’ve grown out of lots of things since I was a kid, but fear isn’t one of them.

You see, that quote reminds me that fear doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you are young or old…man or woman…extroverted or introverted…it doesn’t care if you acknowledge it or not…fear is always lurking.

Everyone is afraid of something.

Among other things…I’m afraid of embarrassing myself every time I post a blog. I’m afraid of letting down the people that matter the most in my life. I’m afraid my actions won’t mimic my words in front of my children. I’m often afraid of asking for help. And I’m afraid of snakes.

I wrote in a post recently that I wanted my kids to know that it’s better to swing and miss than to never swing at all.

The truth is though, I don’t always swing myself. Sometimes, I don’t even step in the batter’s box! Instead, I run back to the dugout and hide. Because I’m afraid.

In fact, I’ve missed out on many opportunities in my life because of fear.

So I’m in the “do what I say, not what I do” camp here.

But the life lessons I want my kids to learn have to be so much more than words on a page.

Life lessons have to come from real-life examples.

I have to share my fears with my children. I have to be vulnerable. I have to be real.

Honestly, I don’t really do that. I hide my fears. I try to act as if I’m immune to fear in front of my children. Because dads are tough, right?

Not only is that a lie, it’s a disservice to my children. It teaches them that it’s not okay to be afraid. It leads them to believe fear is not normal. Most of all, it makes them stop in their tracks the moment fear rears its ugly head.

I don’t want fear to cause them to miss out on being and doing something great! That can lead to something much, much worse…regret.

Recently, my daughter said she wanted to try out for a play, but then she immediately said she didn’t. My wife and I knew it was because she was afraid. Fortunately, with a little encouragement, she tried out anyway.

But she almost didn’t.

She almost missed out.

And I realized that I have to set a better example. If I want my children to overcome their fears, they have to see me overcome mine.

So, I’m going to try to quit hiding all of my fears from them…because I want them to know that everyone is afraid sometimes…that being successful in whatever adventures they choose in life doesn’t happen without fear…it happens in spite of it.

Truthfully, I’m still afraid you’ll think this post is the worst thing you’ve read in a month. But I hit publish anyway…so I don’t miss out. And so my kids see me taking swings. And so I have a real-life example to share with my daughter the next time she’s afraid.

You know, I’m guessing you’re afraid of something too – applying for that job…calling that friend you haven’t talked to in a year…starting your own blog or writing a book – because fear is always there…no matter who you are or how old you are.

But don’t hide from it. Use it. And let your kids in.

Teach them that fear is normal…and if they’re waiting for it to go completely away before doing something awesome…they’ll always be sitting in the dugout watching everyone going up to bat.

“You can be a little old for a lot of things…you’re never too old to be afraid.”

So, if we both strike out today, let’s go down swinging!


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  • Jan

    Thanks for sharing! Fear is one of my biggest issues so this was good for me to read tonight.