“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.
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.
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