“However we treat the child, the child will treat the world.” ~ Pam Leo

Is there room for fear in parenting?

In the relation built upon unconditional love between a parent and child, can fear thrive with love?

Logically, where love prevails, there can’t be room for fear because faith and trust support love that I’m sure is enough to last a lifetime. But in our hearts, we all know that’s not the entire truth. Isn’t it?

Every parent yearns to earn the respect of their child. However, guided by our own failures and insecurities when we take up the path of adopting stricter ways of disciplining our child, we fail to note the fear we’re instilling in their little hearts.

No, I am not even touching upon spanking or hitting a child. I feel, yelling too works at the same level. I have seen it at play when I was a child. Till today, I find it hard to voice my opinion in a carefree way in the presence of my parents.

Fear in Parenting

I might come across as a very obedient child, but truth be told, that is out of fear. This fear might on the surface appear to be respect, but I know it well it isn’t so. I have never been able to share my problems, my failures, my desires or my dreams for that matter with my parents because they have been (or came across as) too busy to prove to the world what a disciplined, obedient daughter they had. The thought of shattering their illusion, causing them pain by playing to my own heart’s tunes had always stopped me from being who I really was.

Loss of self-esteem, feeling unworthy of standing up for myself or taking independent decisions and most importantly, not trusting my parents enough to raise an alarm when I could sense danger have had devastating effects on my life. Things haven’t changed much even today. Though I am no longer the small girl in whom one can instil fear anymore.


But, I do not want my child to lead a life, I have had. I do not want her growing up years to be shadowed by towering fear traumatizing her free spirit forever.

There exists a fine line that separates respect and fear in parenting. And in the stressful lives that we all lead, over-riding this line comes rather easy. I’m guilty of having been pretty harsh with my child on a few occasions. No, I didn’t resort to spanking but in my heart I know I was rather loud and rough with my words. I’m not going to seek refuge in excuses. Simply because it isn’t worth it.

Can you imagine threatening your spouse or a colleague or a good friend the very same way as you threaten your child if they did not meet your expectations?

Definitely no. Then why use our size or power to threaten little kids?

Let’s look at another aspect of using fear to discipline.

What is that one issue that has been claiming young lives or leaving them emotionally, physically or mentally scarred all over the world?



But, where does bullying stem from?

We the adults teach bullying behaviour to children by using threats of grave outcomes, enforcing it by towering over them with our physical size or power to make the kids do things. We model the success of using authority and threats to achieve desired results that snowballs into the one issue parents and teachers have been struggling to control.

I have noted that angry outburst and threatening as a way of parenting usually stems from the idea that parents consider child’s uncooperative behaviour as a threat to their authority. When the reality is, roots of child’s such behaviour lie in either his/her unmet desires or in parent’s unrealistic expectations of him. Understanding this can make a world’s difference not only in our ways of disciplining but also in our relationship with our children.

My biggest concern in this field is, I at no point in my relationship with my daughter want to lose the beautiful friendship we share. The trust she has in me that at any point she can walk or run up to me and share the grossest secret with the knowledge that I will understand. I will not judge her, I will not reprimand her. I will give her an opportunity to tell me her side of the story, unedited.

Our children need us, our unconditional love, our trust to face the harsh realities of the world we live in. We need to drench their little hearts with so much love that nothing in the world can make them feel lost, unloved and unworthy of losing their self-worth

This is something I want to create in my relationship with my child. I have a zilch understanding of how to be a  clichéd ‘good’ or ‘balanced’ parent or if these exist in the real world. All I’m aiming at is to build a connection based on mutual respect based on trust and unconditional love.

It might just be a figment of my imagination given the trials and tribulations of being a single parent. But having a vision of where I want my relationship with my child to be will surely keep me guided and striving hard enough to end the vicious cycle of fear that once ruled my childhood.

Don’t demand respect as a parent. Demand civility and insist on honesty. But respect is something you must earn — with kids as well as with adults. ~ William Attwood

Have you experienced an association of fear with parenting? 

* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.

Please find my other posts here.

56 thoughts on “Fear

  1. I agree with you. And have been in (and am in) those shoes. I still cannot voice my opinion in front of my parents properly, and when I do, they just seem to think it’s me rebelling against their opinions, when in truth, I’m just trying to talk, to tell them I hear them and what I am doing. And to react to that reaction is not easy at all, no matter how old or mature I am.


    1. I think this is the story of every Indian family. The awkward obedience, the uncomfortable submission children show their parents is often praised but deep down it hurts.
      I have been there, that’s why I want to do things differently for my child. I want her to feel free and in control of her life.
      Thank you Vinay for sharing your personal experience 🙂


    1. I agree, parenting is very tough and no one can ever dare say they have it all sorted out.
      We’re all learning the ropes, every day, improving just like our children 🙂


  2. Yes, it is very hard to know where to draw the line and constantly being fearful makes a child fearful and cautious too. We do unconsciously transfer our fears to our children making them risk averse and mild mannered, often open to bullying .


    1. The bigger picture is pretty scary because the fear we instilled in our child to have the last word, actually makes the child vulnerable & incapable of standing up for themselves when set free in the big, bad world.
      Thank you BellBytes for sharing your views 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. RamyaRao

    Wow. I have been an obident child of my parents and I felt you were talking about me there. I try to voice my opinion but they are concerned about the world and what it wants. Brilliantly put. Thanks for sharing. 😃


    1. ‘Log kya kahenge/ sochenge’ has ruined many lives and still continues to do so.
      But this culture of fear has to end somewhere. It is up to us to be the change we always wished for.
      Thank you Ramya 😀


  4. I hope and pray that you never lose the beautiful friendship you share with Pari. Yes, yelling and shouting causes fear and gradually the bond will cease to exist with your kid. They will stop telling you things, which I should say is bad. But yes, we are human too. There would be times when you lose your temper. It is always better to talk to your kid once that passes by and make sure that she is okay. There is no harm in saying sorry to your kid. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right Shalzzz, being able to step down from our high horse of being an authority figure to say sorry to a child can make a world’s difference.
      Thank you so much for the wonderful wishes and for being there. It means a lot ❤


  5. Awesome post era and like all good parenting posts makes you ask yourself uncomfortable questions. I often find myself wondering where does being firm end and instilling fear begin? But in my head – i think if you are being firm with your kid for the right reasons and not for your reasons like you are tired irritable or wondering what others would think, you usually do the right thing


    1. You are spot on Nuttie 🙂
      We have to be firm and at times instill fear of some people too to keep our children safe but when done in a way where you take time to talk to the child at next opportunity usually bears positive results 🙂
      Everything in moderation is fine.


  6. Good one post .
    Yes ‘fear’ stops kids from shaping a. Good one future .

    The things you mentioned about how they treated you and how you treat your daughter to be sure that she does not feel the same as you felt in your childhood .



  7. I am not a parent yet but I am learning a lot from you. I am a fearful person. I fear a lot, and that is why I cannot believe that I can be an effective parent. Because, I might instill a lot of fears to my kids, thus disallowing them to grow like you have mentioned.

    But I got your well-made point. 🙂 Thankyou!


    1. Having doubts on what kind of a parent we’ll be is normal Rosema. All it takes is the desire to be a caring, loving, compassionate parent and rest everything begins to fall in place with experience.
      Parenting isn’t rocket science and it is learnt only by making mistakes. That’s why I feel, you’ll be just fine.
      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post. Fear is the worst thing a child can be made to feel by it’s care givers. There are so many things a child fears anyway, a parent’s focus should be on reassuring the child, creating a safe haven.


    1. Our children have only us to trust and love unconditionally, if we’ll fail in making them feel safe, nothing in this world can infuse the feeling of self-esteem and confidence to move on in life with their heads held high.
      Thank you Kalpana 🙂


  9. richajindal

    while I was reading I could connect with bot my childhood with my parents & bringing up my 2 sons who are teenagers now. I had a strict childhood but to children you need to treat in entirely different way. But 1thing I will admit is what ever you go through as a child the learning experience as a parent is entirely different.



    1. Welcome to my blog Richa 🙂
      It is entirely up to us if we want to continue giving what we received as children or to stand up for our beliefs and be the change we want to see in our children’s lives. It is entirely up to us, then why not make the best choice?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Novemberschild

    I am not a parent but I have experience of writing on parenting issues a lot as I was given that department while working with a magazine 5years ago. I have my extensive research on all these topics. Becoming a parent changes your life. And not just in the way you think. It rewires your brain. And then there are those moments of inexplicable joy, of extreme guilt, of inadequacy, of sudden limitless superpowers, of boundless love and baseless fears. No matter what stage we are in, as parents, we have to face our fears. If we don’t deal with them properly, we can either become overprotective and stifling, or the opposite: nonchalant and careless. Overcoming these fears helps prevent poor parenting decisions.


  11. I have experienced fear in parenting…that of losing out on the children’s love and respect for me. Personally I have had to instill fear a few times when I found nothing else worked, but felt ashamed of doing it. However I totally agree that, it does scar the child, exposing them to our frailties. You do take on heavy themes don’t you! This will make a cherished memoir for Pari I am sure.
    @KalaRavi16 from


    1. I am hoping that writing down all that has been in my mind lately will help me see things in a different perspective. I am using this A to Z challenge as an opportunity to write all I wanted to but kept putting off because of one reason or the other.
      Thank you Kala for taking time to read my lengthy posts and sharing your valuable thoughts 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. You are bang on right in stating about the fine line between respect and fear and unfortunately due to the pressure, I have seen many parents crossing it and in turn they have ended up losing all the respect of their children.
    With this approach of yours, I am sure you and Pari will have a great relationship of friendship and not something bound by fear… 🙂

    The Piscean Me


  13. Well stated i too when in look back see that most of the respect is always due to fear but am happy nowadays parents are understanding the demarcation b/w fear and respect.. It’s just like proper parenting 🙂


    1. What feels right to the parent and also the child,
      What makes them both smile,
      Is ought to be right,
      No-matter what the world may say
      Or dare to call our efforts futile.

      Thank you for stopping by Shalini 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Shilpa Garg

    Parenting styles that we follow are a lot different from the times of our parents. More of our style is based on learning from our own experiences as a child. Glad that you share a lovely relationship with Pari and are giving your best. Kudos to you and well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Learning from our past experiences to improve our present and future is the way of life. Being able to take baby steps in the direction of positive change makes the effort totally worth it.
      Thank you Shilpa 🙂


  15. inquisitivegeet

    This is such a heart warming post. It striked a chord with my childhood days as well. I used to fear my dad, all the time and my mother wasn’t that kind of person who would go against him and because of that I could never share my feelings with them. I think maybe they will understand as well, but I have this barrier in my mind that doesn’t allow me sharing much stuff with them, personal ones to be precise, I inherently feel they won’t get me and so I end up not sharing things with me.

    Good job on your part 🙂



    1. Thank you Geet for sharing your personal experience. It is comforting to realize that we aren’t the only one who have been unable to voice our thoughts in front of our parents. What has been done can’t be undone but we can make the change happen while raising our own children.
      Thank you 🙂


  16. Cassie

    You make a great point! Kids learn how to treat others by how we treat them and instilling fear in them is the exact opposite that you want to do. It is also good that you are going to use your past experiences to be a better parent for your child. This is often not the case because we learn to parent from our parents. Thanks for sharing! Cassie from Mommy, RN


    1. Thank you Cassie 🙂
      We parents learn everyday from our children, our actions and most importantly from our mistakes. We I was a child there were many things I wanted different from what was in my home. Today, as a parent I am trying to bring about those changes, one step at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Loved to note the wonderful relationship you share with your parents. When there is mutual respect and understanding, neither the parents nor the children need to raise their voices.
      Thank you so much Parul 🙂


  17. My dear Era, a child that grows up with fear grows up without respect for the one that instilled fear in them, they become hollow and unable to interact with the world because they build up a wall of self-defense and self-preservation. I know too well about this. it warms my heart that you start a revolution to bring children up without fear only trust.


    1. Too true Singledust. Fear is a negative emotion that does more harm than good in any and every scenario.
      I am guilty of scaring my child at times but over the days gone by, I have realized my mistake and am making conscious efforts to not resort to fear to discipline Pari.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. That’s very relative, like i has mentioned one of your posts before I have been brought up in a joint family. Growing up in a joint family I was answerable to a lot of people and still am, but whenever I had to voice my opinion to anything it was always looked upon as rebellious behavior and luckily i found two elders understanding my way tof doing things and they helped in taking my point forward. It’s extremely important to express no matter in which shoes you are.

    Karan – Fearful


    1. So glad you’d found supportive elders who let you be you and also allowed you opportunity to be heard. I agree, expressing your thoughts, your points of view is crucial for our healthy existence.


  19. Pingback: Obedience – The Era I lived in

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