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Fear of Babies Drives Teen Outside

DEAR ABBY: I have a really bad fear of babies and toddlers. My brother's wife just had a second child, and I can't stand being around them. I get really bad anxiety, so I avoid them. His first child is 8, but she is disabled and is like a toddler. I get freaked out around her, too.

When they come over, I go outside or into my room and hide. On top of that, my sister is pregnant and living here with me and our parents. I'm only 17, so I can't move out. It's hard enough when my brother visits with his kids, but if one lives with me, I know I'm gonna lose it. I'm too afraid to talk to my parents about this. -- LOSING IT IN THE WEST

DEAR LOSING IT: You are not going to lose it. You are going to talk with your parents about this because you cannot keep hiding in your room forever. The longer you do, the higher your level of anxiety will become.

Have you any idea why you feel the way you do about babies and toddlers? Is it their size, their fragility, the sound of their voices? You may need help from a licensed therapist to get past this. (Some individuals do.) It's important that you understand what is driving this panic because, if you don't, you will find yourself increasingly isolated as your friends and relatives start families.

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