I go about my day carrying hundreds of little worries and fears for my children with me –
* did he remember to take his jacket to school with him?
* will he have more trouble with that mean kid today?
* how will his spelling test go?
Those are the kinds of mini-fears that regularly fire around in our parental brains. But I think there are bigger fears lurking underneath them all that we need to shine some light on and decide what to do with. I’ve identified 3 common fears that I see in myself and my parent friends that you may relate to also.
1. The fear of making the same “mistakes” as our parents did. I’m sure we can all think of experiences we had as children that we are determined our own children won’t have. Many of them we likely hold our parents responsible for. Firstly, in defence of our own parents, I want to say that they were doing the best they could at the time (as we are) and no parent will do perfectly (more on that in my post You Will Probably Mess Your Children Up – But It’s OK). We can be mindful of doing things differently to the way our parents did but we don’t want to be fearful to the extent that we inflict too much of the opposite on our children. My own parents inadvertently taught me to be a people-pleaser rather than to listen to my own truth. I’m now determined that my boys know and follow their own hearts but I need to be careful that I don’t coach them into selfishness.
2. The fear that our children will struggle in some way. We fear both the ways our children may be struggling now and the ways they may struggle in future. From worrying about whether they’re fitting in with classmates to how they will manage financially as adults, our hearts break when we think of our children struggling in any way. Yet struggle is part of the process of life. Personally, I know that it’s easy for me to try to over-control things in an effort to minimise my children’s struggles but this doesn’t allow them to learn or to build resilience.
3. The fear that our children won’t reflect well on us. Our children can humiliate us so effortlessly! Social skills in particular take a long time to learn and young children can be like bulls in a china shop when it comes to etiquette and appropriateness. If there is some way that our children are unlike others or deviate from social norms, our first instinct can be to feel that we have overlooked something in our parenting and we fear being judged for it.
But parenting from fear is no fun – it’s hard work trying to avoid all those things that could go wrong! And our fears ultimately become limits we put on our children.
HOW DO I STOP BEING FEARFUL?
I don’t know who first said it but there is an idea I often hear that –
“Our brains are wired to help us survive but not to thrive”.
Our brain uses fear to protect our body but, in doing so, it also “protects” us from doing things we might enjoy and learn from. Because of our design, we’re kind of stuck with our fears – but we can choose not to listen to them.
This relates to last week’s post about the mind-body-spirit connection. We need to align our thoughts with our intention to help our children thrive, rather than with our fears, which will keep them safely from living a full life. Sure, protection is part of our role as parents but we want our children to thrive as who they are and we want to thrive ourselves as parents.
As long as we are focussed on the fears we have as parents, we aren’t focused on Love. A Course In Miracles says that every choice in life is one between fear and Love. A choice made in Love is far more empowering because, where fear limits us and our children, Love encourages & nourishes us all. In any parenting situation, fear will ask, “what can go wrong?” But love will ask, “what does my child need?” Our children certainly don’t need our baggage from the past, our anxiety that they will struggle or our delicate egos to contend with! We need to lead with our unconditional love for our children rather than our fears.
IN SUMMARY – BRAVE PARENTING
We don’t have to pretend our fears aren’t there but wouldn’t we rather spend our energy loving our children than avoiding ourselves? There is nothing like parenthood to develop our bravery and courage. Each time we put our children’s needs before our fears, I think our fears will shrink a little smaller and our capacity to love will expand a little larger.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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