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Purpose Parenting Blog

Fear-less Parenting

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

"Fear is the mind-killer. I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass through me. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." Frank Herbert, Dune

I teach parenting skills. Why am I blogging about fear?

When I think back on the thousands of conversations I've had with parents, so many of the struggles and challenges they experience every day come down to fear.

One of the truths I share with parents:

"Once we eliminate fear from our parenting, only unconditional love remains."

What do parents fear? (I mean, all of us parents could make this list):

Bad grades

Feeling unchallenged

No friends

Wrong friends

Too much time with friends

Too much screen time*

Too much time alone in their room

Smoking weed

Eating too much sugar

Not eating enough broccoli

Having sex

Breaking up

Physical safety

Getting kicked off a team

Forgetting backpacks

Not doing homework



Getting bullied

Being a bully

Too lazy

Too hyper...

The list of parents' fears is endless.

Before I go on, I want to say I HAVE FEARS FOR MY KIDS TOO!

I have to fight every day to keep my fears for my kids out of my parenting. It's work. It takes discipline. It can be exhausting. It can feel impossible. I'm not perfect. My fears for my kids creep in.

The point of working on parenting skills is NOT to be perfect (Just like we don't want our kids to feel like they have to be perfect. We model not being perfect every day!)

The point is to understand why parenting from a place of fear is something to TRY to eliminate from our parenting. Then, when it creeps in once in a while, we notice it, we name it, we change it.

So why do we fear for our kids? Simplest answer: We love our kids more than anything else in our lives. Period. Nothing comes close.

We feel this responsibility for how they "turn out." We want them to be happy, to feel purposeful, to be successful, to find love... We have all these expectations, hopes for our kids.

I could go into brain research and the amygdala... That's for other people to write about. Google amygdala if you want to know why we fear for our kids.

I want to write about 2 things:

  1. How does parenting from a place of fear affect our relationship with our kids?

  2. How do we do the work to minimize parenting from a place of fear (because to eliminate it just isn't possible, IMO)?

How does parenting from a place of fear affect our relationship with our kids?

Rather than blah, blah, blah, I'll give two scenarios (fill-in the activity that matches your kid).

Fear-based Parenting Scenario:

Nine year old son. Rides horses. Mom constantly brings up falling off his horse. "I'm terrified every time you ride. What if you fall off?" "Christopher Reeves became paralyzed because of a fall from his horse and eventually died!" "It's just not safe."

As mom drops her son off at the barn, she says, "Be safe! Don't fall off!"

As son is riding his horse, all he hears is "Don't fall off!"

Just as he's hearing that distracting voice in his head, the horse starts cantering unexpectedly, and son falls off the horse and breaks his arm.

Now Mom is even more terrified of her son riding horses!

Consciously Redirect Fear Scenario:

Nine year old son. Rides horses. Mom has periodic internal fear of her son falling off his horse and being injured.

When the fear comes over her, she takes a deep breath. She remembers all the safety measures she knows the instructor has in place. She reminds herself of how his instructor never lets him move onto the next skill/level of difficulty until he has mastered the one before.

She remembers all the times her son has gone riding and never been injured.

She reminds herself that he doesn't want to fall and he is a very strong and skillful rider.

She brings up her worst fear: He falls and becomes very injured. That's terrible!

No! Her worst fear is letting her own fears either keep him from riding or cause him so much fear he actually does fall.

As she's driving her son to the barn - EVEN THOUGH SHE'S AFRAID - she makes the CHOICE to push down the fear and pull up the CONFIDENCE. She keeps her voice light, laughs often, asks questions, tells a good story. When she drops him off at the barn, she casually says, "Have a great time! I hope you learn something new today. Give Holly a special hug from me." And then she drives off and hopes for the best.

ONE of the zillions of times her son rode horses, he sprained his wrist. She took him to Urgent Care. Got it patched up. Reminded her son (and herself) that it's natural to have injuries in life. The worse injury her son could have is being locked away "safe" in his room. Breathe Deep Mama.

(Okay. Did you figure out that's my son? I had to work - HAVE to work every day on keeping my fears for my sons out of my parenting.)

The way we parents talk to our kids, BECOMES the voice in our children's heads.

The TONE and MOOD we set in our homes, becomes their inner tone and mood.

When we lay down fearful, anxious patterns in the ways we relate to our kids, their brains develop in anxious, fearful ways. If they already have anxious brain-wiring of their own, our fears reinforce their fears.

Try noticing FEAR this week and taking a step or two towards a different response. See what happens. Share what happens.

When we fear, it's hard to hear.

~ Elisabeth Harrod, Purpose Parenting

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