28 Jul Parenting through fear
What kind of parent are you? Are you like me, constantly worried about what you see and read in the news? Are you terrified about going outside and living your life freely? Have you been going through life with an unpleasant emotion which is caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat? That is the definition of fear! Well here are some personal experiences of mine which you may find interesting and even inspiring on how I parent through fear.
FREE AND FEARLESS ME
I used to be fearless. Well, maybe not completely fearless, worries and doubts still plagued me, but overall my philosophy on life was:
You can’t let your fear paralyze you.
You have to move forward and choose your own adventure.
And so I did. Throughout my early to mid-twenties I threw aside normal ideas of what life should look like, such as college and a career, and went on some crazy adventures. I lived a day at a time. I lived on a bus traveling all over the U.S. and later to ten different countries. It was never easy, but it was always worth it.
I lived a life of risk and adventure. It was amazing. Even amidst all the risks, I rarely feared for my own safety because I had the belief that:
Everything would be ok. This is exactly where I am supposed to be.
Fast-forward a decade later, I am “settled down,” married with a beautiful 2-year-old daughter. Now it seems like daily there are news stories about terrorist attacks and other dangerous attacks. I am gripped with fear. It is a foreign feeling, icy and paralyzing in the pit of my stomach.
This transformation from fearless to cautious me has its origin. Something happened 2 years ago when I went through labor and held my precious daughter in my arms for the first time. Suddenly, fear and worry and anxiety took on a whole new level because I have been given the beautiful burden of parenthood.
Nightmares come, usually where I am somewhere adventurous and my daughter is in danger.
All at once the carefree girl I was came crashing head-to-head with this grown-up woman who loves her child more than life itself.
I feel this love that is fierce and crushing and overwhelming and full of all the best and the worst possibilities.
I’ve always been someone who has always believed the best about people, always given them the benefit of doubt. Suddenly every stranger who looks at me the wrong is a potential criminal or terrorist or psycho that could hurt my baby. And I have to be cautious!
I’ve always been very nonchalant about my health, never had any major medical issues, or worried about sickness and injury. Now, I make myself sick with worry over simple rashes and routine doctor’s visits. Is this the right way? I knew I needed to change!
I have often read that children need to make mistakes and take risks and that it is through risks that children gain the knowledge for survival, to be less fearful, to have the skills to become independent adults. Yet that mother instinct makes me want to protect my kid from the world around her. To protect her from the risks I joyfully took when I was younger.
I know nothing I am saying is new. It is a deep God-given instinct for the survival of our species.
I must protect my young.
But I don’t want to project my fears on her. I don’t want her to grow up assuming the worst or being overly cautious. I want her to be free. Yet I have to be protective, and objectively as well.
Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance here. I was talking about this to my best friend who is raising two boys. She told me many times she just has to “look the other way.” She decided unless her sons are in immediate danger she is learning how to watch them make their own mistakes. It might mean a bloody knee or bruise here and there. But we can’t stop things that should happen from happening.
The exhausting thing sometimes is that of having to constantly assess the situation, to figure out if it’s just a bloody knee, or if it’s more like a broken bone!
BUT RISK IS OK, FEAR IS NOT
I have to hope for the best; to accept that there will some evil going on and that so much goodness abounds too. I have to keep hope alive that good will overcome evil. I have to live freely, knowing that my daughter may fall down a step and hurt herself a bit. I cannot protect her always. After all, life is a risk worth taking.
We never know what we could face when we chose to walk out our door into the sunlight.
Pain and loss is inevitable, you can’t escape it.
Maybe I shouldn’t try so hard to escape my fear, but rather push through it to the other side and choose to live life anyways.
Maybe that is true bravery. Maybe that is living positively!
Now that I am a mom, there is always going to be something to worry about. No matter the situation or what the news blares loudly.
LOVE DRIVES FEAR AWAY
I don’t think this means fear goes away completely, it just means it’s pushed out of the spotlight in your heart because Love takes over and there isn’t room for both. Yes love drives out all fear.
When love is in center stage, the light it radiates shines into every dark corner, illuminating the bad things as smaller than we thought they were.
And then I can say with confidence once again,
Whatever happens, we will be ok. We are exactly where we need to be.
How about you? Are you a fearful parent, or more of a laid-back one? How do you find the balance in protecting your kid and letting them risk? What are some of the lessons you have learned along the journey? We can all learn from each other, it truly takes a whole village.
About the Author:
Brooke Gale Louvier is a freelance writer living in Fort Worth, TX. She is married and has a beautiful, spunky 2-year-old daughter. Brooke is a contributor to KACHY TV Blog and you can find her writing about out of the box parenting and fun parenting life experiences on her blog, The Stay-At-Home Something. https://thestayathomesomething.com/. She loves traveling, poetry and tea.