“Where Fear Is, Happiness Is Not” –Author Unknown
I remember the day I brought my first child home from the hospital after giving birth. I looked down at that little baby and vowed to myself that I would keep her safe for as long as I lived. While watching her sleep at night, I would get overwhelmed with the thought of how exactly I would keep her protected from all of the horrors of this world.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but throughout my child’s first three years, I had many looming thoughts that were frequently surrounded by fear. Fear of her getting hurt, falling behind developmentally, getting kidnapped, you name it. That was the point when I comprehended that I was parenting out of fear. I was afraid of everything and it showed in the way that I was practicing being a caregiver to my little girl.
After seeking my own counseling, I came to the conclusion that parenting out of fear was no way to parent at all. There are many healthy ways to parent that do not require fear, intimidation, or scare tactics. It is possible to keep your children safe while practicing faith over fear.
Below are examples of parenting out of fear.
My good intentions are misrepresented when fear commands my actions. It’s time to take a step back when supervision becomes surveillance. Survey the situation to find out if overprotectiveness is involved. Are denying your child important self-learning lessons (that they might have to learn the hard way)? What about social situations that will enable them to learn important communal strategies (even if they might get their feelings hurt)?
“No” As A Default Answer
There is nothing wrong with the word “no.” Both children and adults need to hear this word at times. However, saying no too quickly or too often shuts down trust and communication. Children are sent a message that their sense of reasoning, opinion, or way of seeing the world cannot be trusted. This could cause problems with the parent/child relationship, as well as a child’s relationship with themselves.
The best lessons often come from natural consequences. None of us want our children to experience hurt. Shielding them from every possible negative outcome is not only exhausting, but it is impossible. Life is about encouraging your children to try the hard things while reminding them that mistakes will happen. Mistakes are okay. The objective is to try your best, not to get it perfect.
“We never know the true love of a parent until we become one ourselves.” –Henry Ward Beecher
For more information on this topic or any other mental health topic, we are here for you! Please do not hesitate to reach out to Amy Wine Counseling Center at 832.421.8714.