It’s been my experience that many parents live in the land of fear when it comes to their children. It can indeed be a treacherous world, online and in real time, and one is naturally fearful for the health and safety of their children. But in reality too much fear is unhealthy and the worst thing we can give do. Here’s why.
There are damaging hidden messages that worry, anxiousness, and fear communicate. When we worry and fret and fuss and step in and do and check and hold and check-in again, all in the name of love and care, the hidden message our child receives is: my parent/s are so worried about me that must mean I am not competent, my parents don’t trust me to figure this out, I am weak, incapable, can’t do it on my own, I’m not good enough, not now, not later, maybe not ever. Add to that ‘I can’t tell them anything, they’ll just freak out and worry.’
The problem with hidden messages is that they are very powerful, and embed themselves deeply within. They become the unspoken truths and because they are hidden in platitudes of ‘I love you and that’s why I’m worried’ they are all the more lethal. The worry and fear we get from our parents, becomes the worry and fear we give to ourselves.
To be a fearless parent means to control our fears and worries, and to put our faith in trust. A child needs to have at least one self-assured and guiding adult in their life that imparts to them, by words and actions, a trust in their competence and ability as a young and growing human being. Good conversations, based on respect and listening, are one way to build and deepen trust.
Other ways include expressing trust in the innate goodness and intelligence of the child, trust that they will figure it out, that mistakes are the best teachers, trust that others (and Krishna) will help them, trust in their life journey and choices which may be very different than our own. Trust means support, it means love, and more than anything else, it inspires. Trust is a big hug and says ‘good luck’ and I’m here if you need me!
Krishna gave Arjuna big time trust on the battlefield. He listened, answered questions, and in the end trusted him with the final decision. What a lesson in how to be a self assured and guiding adult. This world is also a dangerous place and fear is natural as our children face many challenges. With a good foundation of trust, along with information, education, and lots of conversation, we can not only learn about the difficulties they face, but even better, help them learn to solve the problems themselves.
There is magic in trust and fearless parenting, and enormous amounts of love. Let go and let trust. Our children will be all the better for it.