10 Purpose Parenting Tips for Minimizing Parenting from a Place of Fear:
Talk to someone you trust about your fears. They are real. You have them. If you try to act like they're not inside you, it will come out in your parenting. Validate your fears, then make the CHOICE to let them go.
Take deep breaths when you notice a fearful response about to come out between you and your child. Remember times when things have gone well in the past. Build on all those positive experiences (not the few times things went badly).
Think about the worst that could happen. See that scenario play out in your mind. And KNOW that you are resilient enough to get through it. (I had to do this when my sons were learning to drive. "Even if they get into a terrible accident, I have what it takes to get us through that.") Then when I'm teaching my sons to drive, that fear is "out of the way," and we can just focus on learning to drive safely.
The Harry Potter Trick. Imagine your teen is doing something you fear them doing (Going to a party). Instead of thinking of all the things you fear will go wrong if they do it, imagine they're just reading Harry Potter. And you feel great about them reading Harry Potter. Now, when you go to talk to them about this behavior (going to the party), you're calm. We're just talking. You're listening. The conversation goes so much better. Or... maybe you'll decide you don't even need to bring it up. If they feel they're ready to do whatever this behavior is that you "were" so afraid they would do, maybe just let them do it and see what happens. When the do they thing (go to the party), genuinely ask how it went and be open and receptive to whatever they tell you. Hold back judgment, never say "I told you so," let them come to their own conclusions about how it went and if they want to try it again. It's hard AND it works.
One of the things I remind myself when I feel a fear coming on... This is their life. They are responsible for how their life turns out. When my son decided to stop playing violin, I worried he would regret it. It's his life. (He started playing two years later because he fell in love with it again). When he wanted to go to a big high school party, I didn't want him to go. I was afraid. We talked about some scenarios. He knew I was available to go get him if needed. He went. Some things went down. He learned a lot. He went to a few more parties. He hosted one. Then he was done with partying. He went to ZERO college parties.
We parents are NOT responsible for our kids' outcomes. Our kids are responsible for their outcomes. Once you really believe that and parent from that place, fear is much less present in our parenting.
Remind yourself it is GOOD, in fact it is ESSENTIAL that kids make mistakes. Lots of mistakes! Imagine if every time your child fell when learning to walk, you kept them from falling. They'd still be crawling around. The mistakes our kids make as they get older look different, but they happen for the same reasons. They're learning a new skill. It might not look like a new skill to you, but if they're making mistakes, it's a new skill for them. They're stretching and trying. They are going to fall down (metaphorically). And it's our jobs as parents to LET THEM FALL and be there to support them. Be there to offer guidance if asked. Let them try again and still love themselves.
Have your own interests and passions. Lots of parents I coach think the MORE time they spend with and think about their child, the better. No so! Most parents I work with would benefit from thinking much less about their kids and much more about their own "thing." If your brain is so full of your joy for what you're doing with your life, you won't have as much bandwidth to worry and fear will be a much smaller percentage of your emotional landscape. Try it! See what happens to your relationship with your child when you think about them 10% less. I'd like to hear if anything shifted.
Best lesson I ever learned about being a parent is: GET OUT OF YOUR CHILD'S WAY. Try saying YES to something you had fear about and wanted to say NO. Notice what happens.
BIGGEST THING I CAN SAY ABOUT HOW TO MINIMIZE FEARS FROM YOUR PARENTING: Let go of feeling responsible for their outcomes (I know it was Tip #6, but it's so important, I'm going to say it again and a little differently). Your job is to help your child become the best version of themselves possible. Their job is to be the best version of themselves possible. Let go of your FEARS about what will happen if.... Instead, support them to make choices and live with the results of those choices (Age-appropriate support. Not two year olds running out into traffic.)
Example: Your daughter is going to take the SAT in 4 months. Option 1: You force her to get a tutor. Monitor her results. Require her to study 2 hours/day. Option 2: She asked for help and you tell her it's her own thing to figure out. Option 3: She tells you she's stressed about taking the SAT. You ask her what you can do to support. You do those things. You stay out of it. Once you offer the support she needs, she can take it from there. She'll come back to you if she needs/wants additional support. Never let YOUR stress about her performance on the SAT impact HER outcome.
Here is an exercise to try this week. Every time you feel FEAR entering your heart, soul, mind, relationship with your child, try to replace FEAR with one of these ACTIONS:
Fear = Trust Fear = Sing
Fear = Be generous Fear = Hope
Fear = Ask a question Fear = Admit fear
Fear = Laugh Fear = Create
Fear = Journal Fear = Write
Fear = Dance Fear = Sit in Nature
Fear = Look at their baby pictures Fear = Learn something new
Fear = Swim Fear = Say YES!
Taking FEAR out of our relationship with our children IS our work as parents. And it is WORK.
Being conscious of ways FEAR is infecting our decisions is a great step. Working actively to relate to our children from our calmest, most accepting, more trusting, confident place IS so powerful for our relationships with our kids.